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Sexual health

Sexual health

This resource has been developed for nurses working in sexual and reproductive health. This encompasses sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, contraception, teenage pregnancy and reproduction. 

There are a number of other RCN resources available to support nurses working in this area. 

The RCN's Public Health Forum and the Women’s Health Forum lead the RCN’s work in these areas. Further information can also be found on the RCN’s Fertility Nursing Forum, Midwifery Forum and Nursing in Justice and Forensic Healthcare pages.

Sexual health is an fundamental public health issue and clearly recognised as such by the WHO (2015). Sexual health provision includes the provision of contraceptive methods such as implants, intrauterine devices and hormonal contraception and the diagnosis, treatment, management of sexually transmitted infection, HIV care and the public health role of partner notification and promotion of safer sex and including support for individuals in relation to sexuality and healthy sexual relationships. The role of nurses, midwives and health practitioners across all areas of this specialty are essential to the delivery of high quality care, to support males, females, trans and intersex people who may be vulnerable through unprotected or condom less sex including: sex workers; homeless people; as well as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and grooming. 

Alongside providing advice and support to members, the RCN works closely with charities and professional organisations such as the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), Terence Higgins Trust, NICE, British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the UK governments to ensure that nurses play a key part in the development of services and standards across the UK.

Nurses, midwives and health practitioners may be employed by the NHS, independent sector, universities or charities in a variety of roles such as sexual health technicians, staff nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, community nurses, lectures and consultant nurses.

Professional Associations

As a nurse or health practitioner working in the specialty of sexual health, HIV, contraception and termination of pregnancy there are a number of professional associations that you can join. Each organisation provides a range of information, produces national standards and guidelines alongside educational opportunities and professional journals. 

Professional Associations


Across the UK there are a number of charities that provide information, advice and support for patients and healthcare professionals:

  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). Information and advice on termination of pregnancy and contraception alongside clinical services
  • Brook. Sexual health information, advice and clinics for young people
  • Fpa. (Formerly Family Planning Association) Information and advice on sexual health and contraception
  • Marie Stopes International. Information and advice on termination of pregnancy and contraception alongside clinical services
  • Terence Higgins Trust. National charity for sexual health and HIV.  Provides advice, information and a number of face to face services
  • Aidsmap. Information and resources on HIV within the UK and across the world.


RCN Publications

Further RCN resources

The RCN has been working with members on a series of case studies which help showcase the variety of ways nurses are currently working to improve public health. See: Improving access to sexual health 

You may also find the following RCN resources useful: