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Sexuality and sexual health issues need to be handled with sensitivity. Sometimes they are such difficult topics for nurses and health care assistants to manage that we forget how much harder it can be for our patients and clients to share their most intimate health needs with us.

Outside of specific sexual health services, it can be daunting to realise that the appointment 'squeezed in' to your busy morning clinic is actually a young girl who's scared she's pregnant; or the man brought into A&E has been raped. But you don't need to be an expert to sensitively manage these initial situations - knowing how to talk to people, and what services are available to meet their immediate and on-going needs are the important things you can offer.

Have you heard the phrase 'knowledge is power'? This learning area will help you to increase your knowledge about sexual health issues, and to develop the skills and attitudes you need to help patients and clients. It's your knowledge that will empower them to access the care they need, or to make the decisions that are right for them. We will examine issues of emergency contraception, unwanted pregnancy, men's health, sexual assault, sexually transmitted infections and the health needs of vulnerable people, together with the communication skills you will need in practice.

The next person who seeks your help could have a sexual health need...read on now!