The focus of this section is looking at the personal, social, economic and environmental factors that influence how healthy we are. It will hopefully give you some general information and confidence about taking care of yourself, where possible, and where you can access more information and support when needed.

Safer sex practice

Remember it is safest with a condom on for oral, anal and vaginal sex.

Sometimes clients bring their own condoms because of size issues, a latex allergy, a preference for a certain brand but this can also serve as a tactic to damage the condom.

Always carry your own condoms so that you know they are intact and in-date.

Use condoms for vaginal and anal sex. You can use flavoured condoms for oral.

Check the client’s penis and surrounding areas for any noticeable marks, bumps or crabs.

Even with a condom on crabs and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), for example warts and herpes can be caught.

It may help to make this seem naughty and fun to draw attention from the fact that you are checking him.

Using wet wipes to clean yourself or the client’s penis does not prevent the spread of STIs

Hold the condom on while having sex when you can.

Lubricant (Lube) is really important to stop condoms breaking, and can make the job end faster, look at the list below for some pretty convincing reasons to use lube.

Do not use Vaseline, or any oil based product, as a lubricant. This makes the condom more likely to break. Use only water based lubricant such as KY Jelly.

Reasons to use lube

The condom is less likely to break as there is less friction.

It will be more comfortable.

You can use it to make the client think you are turned on. (If female).

Lube can be used for hand jobs.

Lube makes the client harder and job is done quicker.

Unplanned Pregnancy

If you experience an unplanned pregnancy, information and support on your options, including continuing with the pregnancy or abortion services can be found on myoptions.ie. There is a twelve week cut off for abortion services. If you miss the 12-week cut-off, you can link to Abortion Support Network for more information.

Sexual Health Screens

Attend a sexual health clinic regularly for a ‘full screen’ sexual health check-up. It is recommended you attend every three months or if you have any symptoms. Please familiarise yourself with the symptoms of STIs. These can be different for men and women. It is best, if possible to attend a Sexual Health Centre, as these will be the most knowledgeable about symptoms and treatments.

Always ask for a ‘full screen’ to make sure you get the correct tests.

You can also go to sexual health services if you have concerns that you may have been exposed to HIV for access to post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). If you want to reduce your chances of developing HIV from having sex without a condom and from sharing needles or equipment to inject  drugs you can access Pre Exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). To get more information about PEP and PrEP, please go to the resources section.

You can attend a pharmacy if you are concerned that there is a risk of pregnancy and you want to prevent this by taking Emergency Contraception, which is known as “The Morning after Pill”. The cost is between €24 and €35 but is free if you have a medical card. You do not need to attend a GP for a prescription.For more information, about your options please go to sexualwellbeing.ie

For information about sexual health services including screening services in your area visit the HSE’s site. If you prefer to access a specialist sex work service please look at the Directory of Services on this Website.

Self-Care, Wellbeing and Safety

If you are stressed, pre-burn out or at the point of burn out, it can impact on safety. Sometimes this can cloud your judgement and perhaps affect your decisions, such as:

  • Which clients to see

  • What screening processes to use

  • How many clients to see in a day

It can be useful to return to your price list (See Working Safely) at this point.

Food and nutrition, exercise, plenty of sleep, social activities with your support network (friends, family, other sex workers, peer group). Attending classes to support your well-being such as yoga, mindfulness, pilates, gentle movement, dance. Going to the gym or attending an exercise class is also a great way to recharge your batteries.

Did you know

Stress and anxiety can be made worse by a lack of oxygen in our systems. Breathing slowly into your belly (abdominal breathing) is a relaxation technique used by many and is often taught in stress management and relaxation classes.
Gentle exercise increases your endorphins (happy chemicals) and helps to reduce the ‘stress hormone’ called cortisol. Protecting your health in and out of work is an ongoing process and sometimes we need a little extra support.

If your self-care routine isn’t working for you and you are in a state of stress, anxiety or physical burn out, you can seek outside professional support such as:

  • Seeing a therapist, counsellor or attending a support group.

  • Visiting/calling a supportive sex work project.

  • Seeing your GP

  • Accessing a mental health service

  • Online or in person peer support from other sex workers or non-judgmental friends

When you feel you’re in crisis: If you reach a point where you begin to feel ill and you are concerned about your mental or physical well-being, it’s a good idea to see your GP (Doctor) and talk this over with them. If you are in crisis, tell the receptionist and ask for an emergency appointment. You do not need to go into the reasons for your crisis with the receptionist.

If you are worried at all for your immediate safety due to poor mental or physical health go to Accident and Emergency and ask to see the on-call mental health practitioner. If you are unable to do this call 999.

For more information about health and well-being, not specific to sex work please see  https://www.livinginireland.ie/welfare-health/health/

Did you know

Some sex workers tell us that they have found it difficult to find a sex work friendly counsellor, medical professional or GP. Be aware of this – you might not want to disclose your job to begin with. Remember that you have the right to receive the same level of care as anyone else. To protect yourself in the immediacy – you might want to just discuss your symptoms.

Safer Drug and Alcohol Use

Safer Drug Use can be more difficult when there is pressure from a client to participate in ChemSex. Chemsex is a specific form of recreational drug use and involves using one or more of three drugs, in any combination, to facilitate or enhance sex, with or without other drugs. The three common drugs used are: Methamphetamine (Crystal, Crystal Meth, Tina, Meth), Mephedrone (meph, drone, M-Cat, Meow-Meow), GHB/GBL (G, Gina, Liquid E)). This may mean having no control over the type of drugs or strength of drugs being consumed if the client is purchasing and/or preparing the drugs.

Safer Sex can be less important to those under the influence and therefore the chances of transmission of HIV and STIs are greatly enhanced.

Be Aware of your Limits and your right to say no to sex or sexual acts that you don’t feel comfortable with. (Please refer to negotiating section)

Plan in Advance – Carry condoms and lubricant and do not share injecting equipment. Drug interactions can be serious and difficult to predict, for example; between alcohol and G. Side effects from the drugs used for Chemsex can be more severe than other commonly used recreational drugs. For possible short and long term effects and other information about chemsex, please see man2man.ie. Please see Working Safely for more information about safer drug use when working.

Seeking Support – If you are experiencing problems with your drug use (including alcohol) or are affected by someone else’s there are a number of organisations that can offer support. Chrysalis Community Drug Project is the only community drug project, in Ireland (ROI), that has a dedicated Sex Work Project. Please see the services directory for contact details of Chrysalis CDP and other drug services.

Information for Migrants

If you are looking for information relating to your immigration status. Please click go to the immigration section of livinginireland.ie  The topics covered are:

  • What you need to know about applying for immigration permission to live in Ireland.
  • A guide on how to register to get your Irish Residence Permit (IRP card or GNIB card).
  • Essential information to include if you are contacting the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).

If you are looking for information relating to having refugee status, an excellent resource is https://www.livinginireland.ie/refugee/. The topics covered are:

  • Asylum System
  • Moving on from Direct Provision
  • Family Reunification

If you are a migrant worker the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland provides free and confidential information, support and advocacy to migrants and their families. 

Housing and Homeless Support

Ireland is currently experiencing a housing crisis and it can be difficult to access or maintain a tenancy. It is important to know your rights and where you can go if you need advice and support. If you are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness, Crosscare have produced a document called Our guide to homeless and homelessness prevention.  

Your rights and responsibilities

The landlord must give you notice to quit in writing. How much notice will depend on the length of the tenancy.

You are entitled to your deposit back unless there is damage to the property, over and above reasonable wear and tear.

It is your responsibility to pay the rent and any other monies owed, according to your lease or tenancy agreement.

For more detailed information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, please go to https://www.threshold.ie/advice/