Focus: Communications - Three minutes with ... Caroline Elliott, Marie Stopes International

What is the online service you have just launched?

In addition to working for Marie Stopes, I write for a magazine called Flipside, which is aimed at 11 to 16-year-old boys and is published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers. So it seemed natural to try to develop a relationship between the two. After some research, we launched an online problem page on Flipside's website to answer questions that boys and young teenagers have about sexual health. There are lots of features about sexual health in magazines for girls, but boys tend to get neglected.

Who will be answering their queries?

Dr Kate Worsley, who is a family planning specialist, will deal with medical stuff, while Richard Ollier-Howard, who is a qualified counsellor, will reply to emotional questions. Sarah Robotham, another qualified counsellor, will deal with any cross-over stuff. We are still testing the service, but the idea is to put the advice on the website where everyone can read it.

What has the response been like?

Boys tend to be more reluctant to ask for advice, relying more on information they get from their peers. But what struck me is that a lot of the concerns that boys have are very - similar to those of girls.

Why do you think this service is needed?

At present, schools and local education authorities decide what they teach about sexual health and how they do it. There is also the problem that many of those who teach sex education don't feel comfortable doing it. The result is that the boys who are emailing us don't even know what happens with their girlfriends, and have questions about periods and pregnancy.

Dr Worsley finds that even older girls do not know their anatomy.

- The Marie Stopes International problem page is at

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