Fact sheets

We offer a wide range of fact sheets on reproductive and sexual health topics. Some fact sheets have been developed in partnership with other organisations and some are also available in different languages.

 

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 A

Abortion

Abortion is the termination (end) of a pregnancy. Most abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks), but some may be performed in the second trimester (12 to 24 weeks) or, in rare circumstances, in the third trimester (24 to 36 weeks).

Abortion - emotional issues and counselling

Most women reach a decision about an abortion without professional support. However, for some women, professional counselling offers a valuable and much needed resource.

Abortion procedures - medication

Medication (non-surgical) abortion offers an alternative to surgery for women in the early weeks of pregnancy. The most well-known method of medication abortion uses mifepristone in combination with another drug, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy up to nine weeks. Mifepristone is also known as RU486 or the ‘abortion pill’.

Amenorrhoea

Amenorrhoea is the absence of menstrual periods. Apart from during childhood, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, the absence of periods may be caused by a problem with the reproductive system. One of the most common causes of amenorrhoea is when the body’s hormones are disrupted.

Athletic amenorrhoea

Amenorrhoea is the absence of menstrual periods. Women who are athletes or who exercise a lot on a regular basis are at risk of developing athletic amenorrhoea.

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 B

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 C

Condoms for women

The female condom is a barrier method of contraception that fits all women and suits all ages. It offers women and men an alternative to the male condom. Studies have shown that, if used the right way, the female condom is effective in preventing an unintended pregnancy and giving protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

Contraception - choices

There are many contraceptive methods available in Australia, including implants and injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs, both copper and hormonal), emergency contraception, pills and vaginal rings, barrier methods (male and female condoms and diaphragms), female and male sterilisation and natural methods (natural family planning).

Contraception - your choices - English

Every month your ovaries produce an egg. The semen that is released when a man ejaculates contains millions of sperm. It takes only one of these sperm to fertilise one of your eggs to begin a pregnancy. Using contraception reduces your risk of getting pregnant when you have sex.

Contraception - your choices - Arabic

Contraception - your choices - Chinese

Contraception - your choices - Hindi

Contraception - your choices - Vietnamese

Contraceptive pill - English

If you’re having sex and you don’t want to get pregnant, you need to use contraception. Contraception is also called birth control or family planning.

Contraceptive pill - Arabic

Contraceptive pill - Chinese

Contraceptive pill - Hindi

Contraceptive pill - Vietnamese

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 D

Diaphragms

A diaphragm acts as a barrier method of contraception. It fits inside a woman’s vagina and covers the cervix (entrance to the womb) to stop sperm from meeting and fertilising an egg. Other barrier methods include male and female condoms.

Dysmenorrhoea

Dysmenorrhoea is the term used to describe painful periods. Normal menstruation that happens to be painful is known as primary dysmenorrhoea. Period pain caused by certain reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis or fibroids, is known as secondary dysmenorrhoea.

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 E

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. In almost all cases, the embryo dies. The developing placenta cannot access a rich blood supply and the fallopian tube is not large enough to support the growing embryo.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception, also known as the ‘morning after pill’, can be used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy after having unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception - English

If you had sex without contraception, or had problems with your regular method (missed pills, broken condom), emergency contraception can help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

Emergency contraception - Arabic

Emergency contraception - Chinese

Emergency contraception - Hindi

Emergency contraception - Vietnamese

Epididymitis

The epididymis is a series of small tubes attached to the back of each testicle that collects and stores sperm. One of the most common causes of pain in the scrotum is epididymitis, which is an infection that causes inflammation of these coiled tubes. Epididymo-orchitis is the spread of the infection to the testicle.

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 F

Female sterilisation

Sterilisation is a permanent method of contraception that a woman can choose if she is sure that she does not want children in the future. The two main sterilisation procedures are tubal ligation, where clips are put on the fallopian tubes, and tubal occlusion, where a tiny, flexible device called a micro-insert (EssureTM) is put into each tube. Tubal occlusion does not involve having surgery.

Fibroids

Fibroids, or myomas, are growths or benign tumours that form inside the uterus (womb). Around four in 10 women over the age of 40 years will have fibroids. It is not known why fibroids develop, but it is thought that the sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, play key roles.

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 I

Implants and injections

Contraceptive implants and injections are very effective if used the right way. When choosing the method of contraception that best suits you, it can help to talk to a doctor or nurse about your options. Other types of hormonal contraception include oral tablets (the combined pill and the mini pill), the hormonal IUD and the vaginal ring.

Injections for men

Contraceptive injections for men are not yet available in Australia, but clinical studies suggest that the combination of the hormones testosterone and progesterone may provide a safe, effective and reversible method of male contraception in the future.

Intellectual disability and sexuality

Sexuality is a key part of human nature. People with intellectual disability experience the same range of sexual thoughts, attitudes, feelings, desires, fantasies and activities as anyone else. To understand and enjoy sexuality, everyone needs adequate information and support from a young age.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small contraceptive device that is put into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy. The two types available in Australia are the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD (MirenaTM). The hormonal IUD contains progestogen, which is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone that women make naturally.

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 L

Libido

Libido, which means sex drive or the desire for sex, varies dramatically from one person to the next. It also varies depending on a person’s preferences and life circumstances. Libido can be affected by medical conditions, hormone levels, medications, lifestyle and relationship problems.

Long acting reversible contraception - English

If you’re having sex and you don’t want to get pregnant, you need to use contraception. Contraception is also called birth control or family planning. LARC will stop you getting pregnant for a number of months or years. There are three types of LARC that you can use.

Long acting reversible contraception - Arabic

Long acting reversible contraception - Chinese

Long acting reversible contraception - Hindi

Long acting reversible contraception - Vietnamese

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 M

Masturbation

Masturbation, or self-pleasuring, is touching and rubbing parts of your body for sexual pleasure, such as the penis, clitoris, vulva and breasts. It is a normal and healthy way for people to explore their own bodies and find out what feels good, where and how they like to be touched and how to achieve an orgasm.

Menstrual cycle

The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, but this can vary between women and from one cycle to the next. The length of the menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of the period to the day before the next period starts.

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 P

Physical disability and sexuality

Sexuality is a key part of human nature. People with physical disability experience the same range of sexual thoughts, attitudes, feelings, desires, fantasies and activities as anyone else. To understand and enjoy sexuality, everyone needs adequate information and support from a young age.

Pill

Oral hormonal contraception is more than 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy, when used the right way. Given mistakes that can happen, such as missing a pill or running out of pills, it is only around 91 per cent effective. More effective contraceptive options are available, including the contraceptive implant and intrauterine devices (copper or hormonal).

Pregnancy - unplanned

Unplanned pregnancy is very common, with an estimated 200,000 pregnancies occurring in Australia every year. Not all, however, are unwanted. In some cases, the woman, though surprised, looks forward to raising the child. In other cases, the news presents a crisis.

Puberty

Puberty is the time when a young person’s sexual and reproductive organs mature. Before any physical changes happen, the body starts to make hormones that trigger sexual development and growth.

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 S

Sex & The Law
Sex & The Law, Easy English Version

This fact sheet is designed for young people and is about Sex & The Law

Sex education - talking to young people

Research shows that young people want to talk with their parents about sexual health. Many parents are unsure of where to start or may feel uncomfortable about having these conversations, but avoiding the subject will not stop their children from having sex or keep them safe.

Sex education for children with intellectual disabilities - tips for parents

All people, including those with intellectual disabilities, have the right to explore and express their sexuality in appropriate ways. Everyone needs ongoing and age - appropriate sexuality education to develop positive attitudes about their sexuality.

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 T

Teenage health

Young people have to work through a broad range of issues as they move from childhood to adulthood. They may have to deal with changes to their bodies and their feelings and they may be thinking about having their first relationship or having sex.

Teenage pregnancy

In Australia, the number of teenage women giving birth has fallen over the last 20 years. In 2013, the birth rate among teenage women was 14.6 births per 1,000 women, compared to 55.5 births per 1,000 women in 1971.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare and potentially life-threatening illness that is thought to be caused by infection with certain types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

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 V

Vaginal ring

The vaginal ring is a type of contraception that works in a similar way to the oral contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy. A soft, flexible ring is worn inside the vagina for three out of every four weeks. It slowly and steadily releases synthetic forms of the natural hormones oestrogen and progestogen.

Vasectomy

Vasectomy is an operation that is done to sterilise a man. It is a permanent method of contraception that involves cutting and blocking the tubes in the groin (the vas deferens) that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis.

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 Z

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