Shifting the conversation on young peoples’ sexual health

Irish teens need inclusive Relationships and Sexuality Education, according to the Sexual Health Centre in Cork city.

Tuesday, March 23 marked the launch of the Centre’s SHIFT (Sexual Health Information For Teens) booklet. The resource has been created to help young people, of all sexualities and genders, navigate areas of sexual health such as puberty, sex, relationships, and everything in between.

The centre’s executive director, Dr Martin Davoren noted the importance of providing people with factual information around their sexual health:

“Every young person should be given the opportunity and encouragement to be fully informed about their own sexual health. This is particularly important when considering the vast amount of misinformation online.

“We are very grateful to Cork City Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) for enabling this important project to come to fruition.”

Tony Power (Social Inclusion Specialist, Cork City Council), launching SHIFT outside Cork City Hall with Olivia Teahan (author of SHIFT and Communications and Engagement Lead, the Sexual Health Centre). (Photo: Ian Gubbins)

The Sexual Health Centre has published a number of booklets for Cork’s young people over the years. SHIFT was developed as a reimagined production of the centre’s ‘Sexual Times’ booklet, ensuring that the resource is inclusive of all, regardless of sexuality and gender.

The SHIFT resource offers factual information and guidance on healthy relationships, consent, sexual activities, contraception, pregnancy, HIV, sexually transmitted infections and more.


Author of SHIFT, and the centre’s communications and engagement lead, Olivia Teahan highlighted the need to prioritise inclusion and diversity: “Inclusive sex education not only contributes to positive sexual health outcomes and healthy decision-making for all – it also encourages understanding among peers of different genders and sexualities.

“At the Sexual Health Centre, we pride ourselves on creating a non-biased and inclusive space for everybody. We want to empower young people in Cork to discuss their most intimate concerns in a safe environment, if and when they need to.

“To date, many Irish people – young and old – have not had that opportunity. We need to shift the conversation away from shame and judgement, and towards openness and acceptance.”

To order a hard copy, or to view the online version of SHIFT, please visit The centre will host a sexual health webinar series specifically for young people in the coming months – further information will be made available at

The Sexual Health Centre’s helpline (021-4276676) is open Monday – Friday. The centre is open on 16 Peters Street from Tuesday – Thursday for pregnancy testing and HIV testing, by appointment only.