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Need Help Now? A Guide to Scarleteen's Direct Services

We currently have four different, free direct services where you can get one-on-one help and support if and when you can't find what you need on the website, you need extra information about something the site isn't giving you or don't understand something you've read, or when you want support, help, advice or discussion from our staff, volunteers or peer community members.

  • Our message boards (you will need to register if you are not already registered specifically for the boards, the link to register is here)
  • Our SMS (text) service: text us at #66746, using keyword: ASKST. The SMS service is free, but any texts you send will cost whatever any text costs you on your data plan. Per mobile restrictions, the SMS service is only available for users in the United States.
  • Our live chat service (does not require registration)
  • The advice column queue (you will need to register if you are not already registered specifically for the main site, the link to register is here)

Not sure which is right for you?

The message boards:

The message boards can fit nearly every bill. You can ask simple questions and have them answered quickly, or can have ongoing discussions over time -- be that hours, days, weeks or even months -- either with staff and volunteers, peer users, or both. Longer or more complex topics are best for the message boards rather than for our chat or text services. Message board posts are public, so if you're not comfortable having your questions or conversations be seen and kept public, even when your name and no identifying information is in them, you should not post on the boards.

Our boards are strongly moderated by staff and volunteers, but our community is truly so excellent that more times than not, there's little for us to moderate because our users are so great to one another, all by themselves. The boards are an anonymous service so long as you follow our guidelines about privacy, like picking a username you do not use anywhere else and does not personally identify you in any way, and do not post any personally identifying information.

Best for: Almost anything, be it simple questions or in-depth, involved discussions over time. Also best for when you want both staff and volunteer engagement AND discussion with peers, or primarily peer-to-peer discussion.

How fast will you be answered? Anywhere from a few minutes to within 24 hours.


Please remember or review our user policies and guidelines before using any of our direct services. We cannot serve anyone under the age of 13, advise users about any unlawful activity, nor replace the services of a healthcare provider. Additionally, we ask all users, before using a direct service, to please search the main site or message boards first for answers. Scarleteen provides millions of users every year all of our content and services for free, but has highly limited resources and staff to do that with. We ask you to help us out by at least taking a few minutes, before using a direct service, to find information about your issue, question on concern in our existing content, which usually can answer most questions. Thank you!

The SMS service:

The SMS (text) service is a question and answer service available for those with mobile phones and the capacity to send and receive text messages. You may text a question, and it will be answered, and only seen, by our staff or volunteers.

There is no cost for this beyond what your mobile provider charges you when sending or receiving any text message. Due to mobile provider restrictions, our mobile service can only be used by those within the United States at this time.

Best for: Quick, shorter and simpler questions and answers on the fly, such as when you're away from a computer and need to know where you can get emergency contraception or need to know if a condom was put on correctly, or when you're trying to find something on the site and need help with a link. The SMS service is not intended for longer, ongoing discussions, nor questions where you have to start by inputting several text messages right from the start.

How fast will you be answered? Within a few hours to 24 hours.

The live chat service:

A real-time popup chat window, staffed and seen only by you and our staff and volunteers. It works like an IM conversation or Facebook chat.

Best for: Quick, shorter questions and answers on the fly, help finding or understanding content on the site, help finding in-person care or help, or situations where where you want or need some one-on-one, private support. It does require your immediate and full attention, however, so if you want to be able to come and go throughout a conversation, especially with lapses of several minutes, hours or days, or want to multitask, the boards or SMS service should be used instead.

How fast will you be answered? Our chat hours are currently:
Monday: 11:00 - 1: 00 / 3:00 - 5:00 PST
Tuesday: 11:00 - 1: 00 / 3:00 - 5:00 PST
Thursday: 11:00 - 1: 00 / 3:00 - 5:00 PST
Friday: 11:00 - 1: 00 / 3:00 - 5:00 PST
Sunday: 11:00 - 4:00 PST

During those hours, you will typically be answered within a few minutes. Due to limited staffing, however, chat sometimes may not be available during all of those times.

Chat & Pregnancy Scares: We will no longer discuss some pregnancy risk concerns (especially around things that do not pose any risks) or ongoing pregnancy fears in our chat service, particularly if a person concerned they may be pregnant either has not yet taken a pregnancy test, or has taken some, but refuses to believe them. We are happy to provide links to existing pregnancy risk content in chat, however, and are willing to discuss pregnancy issues like: support when making an actual pregnancy choice, how and when to use emergency contraception or other contraception, or how to figure out, and negotiate with partners, what kinds of sex you want and feel able to handle, as well as the use of contraception and/or safer sex. We also will not engage in arguments about pregnancy risk information with users who find themselves incapable or unwilling to accept the facts about human reproduction, and all that is required for it to occur.

This is because it has become very clear to us chat -- specifically -- is a nonproductive tool for these kinds of discussions, both for us as a staff and for our users. Our aim and intent is to serve you as best we can, as well as to run our services in a way that's manageable for our staff, so we hope you can get on board in accepting this limit.

The advice columns:

The index of the advice columns is here, to give you a sense of the kind of engaged, professional and in-depth answers it provides.

Best for: More involved, complex situations where you want a longer, in-depth answer, but can wait days, weeks or even months for your answer.  Questions and situations which are NOT time-sensitive (like pregnancy risks or scares, current health problems, or help you need to find as soon as possible). Questions and answers you are comfortable having published widely for all to see (even though they should not ever contain any identifying information where anyone reading could know it was you asking).

How fast will you be answered? As noted on the input form, many advice questions will never be answered, particularly if we've already written a column that has already answered your question. Otherwise, the wait can be anywhere from a day or two to several months.The advice column is intended for longer, in-depth answers to issues that are not particularly time sensitive or immediate. It is acceptable to leave your question in the queue, but then also bring to another of our direct services for a more immediate and guaranteed answer.

All of Scarleteen and its services are intended to expressly provide information, education and support within the scope of sex and sexuality, sexual health and relationships. That means things like:

  • sexual anatomy, body changes and body image
  • partnered sex and masturbation
  • sexual response and pleasure (or lack thereof)
  • sexual health issues such as STIs/STDs, contraception (birth control), abortion, finding sexual healthcare, and sex safety
  • sexual and gender orientation or identity, including LGBTQA information and support
  • relationships: dating, relationship models, casual sex, negotiation, communication and agreements; managing conflict, breakups, choices; managing sexuality where it intersects with non-sexual friendships or family
  • consent and sexual communication
  • preventing, identifying and surviving sexual abuse, assault or harassment
  • sexual ethics, activism and politics

What CAN'T Scarleteen's direct services help you with? (And where can you get help?)

  • Medical emergencies or a medical evaluation, treatment or advice, such as a suspected or ongoing infection, chronic pain condition or a sexuality issue, concern or problem that has come up related to or deeply impacted by a health condition where only someone very educated in your condition can consult. For help with those, see: An in-person healthcare provider via a clinic, hospital, or private practice. If you need help finding or accessing one, you can check our find-a-doc database, call your insurance provider if you are insured, or contact your state, country, provincial or city public health or social services office. Scarleteen can often provide support and additional information once you get a diagnosis and treatment, but we cannot diagnose any user nor provide or advise about treatment for any medical conditions. For online information about overall health or specific conditions, we suggest the Mayo Clinic, the NHS, or the World Health Organization.
  • Ongoing mental health issues or conditions like anxiety disorders, clinical depression, bipolar disorder or persistent phobias. For help with those, see: A mental or general healthcare provider. For extra online support or information, you can check out the National Institute of Health, Mental Health, here, or Mental Health @ NHS Choices here.
  • Those trying to conceive (trying to intentionally become pregnant). For help with that, see: An obstetrician/gynecologist, midwife, doula, other fertility/pregnancy educator, or a general healthcare provider. For online help and information, you can check out: Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
  • Ongoing, persistent relationship conflicts which have not been resolved over time and/or with help and coaching already provided by us via our direct services. For help with those, see: Your partner. And yourself. Then your partner again. Then yourself. (AKA: communicate with each other and then make some decisions, y'all.) Or, you and your partner may need to consult with an in-person counselor, mediator or therapist.
  • Abusive or dysfunctional family or partner situations where you are in immediate danger and need help. For help with those, see or contact: A domestic or interpersonal violence shelter, and/or your local social services department or agency. You may also call the police, or go to any hospital emergency room and ask for help. You can use our find-a-doc database to look for local shelters and abuse/assault services. We can help with support around these issues once you are out of immediate danger, however, or help you find the appropriate help to get safe if you cannot find those shelters or services on your own.
  • Help or counseling for those who are currently perpetrating or have perpetrated emotional, physical or sexual abuse or assault. For help with that, see: A mental healthcare provider, such as a therapist or counselor. You can call local community centers or hospitals and ask about any available violence intervention programs which may be local to you. If you self-report any abuse or assault you have perpetrated to the police, you may also ask for counseling resources when you do. In the UK, this hotline is available for help for abusers. A similar service is available in the United States via the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Uterine scrying or other psychic services (in other words, "When will my period come?" "Am I pregnant?" "What is my boyfriend/girlfriend thinking?" For help with those, see: Waiting, in the case of waiting for a period. Or a home or clinical pregnancy test, to find out if you are pregnant. Or, your boyfriend or girlfriend, to find out what they are thinking, feeling or wanting, by asking them those things.
  • Issues exclusive to, or those which predominantly impact, those over 30, such sex in long-term marriages, sex and aging, or post-menopausal issues. For help with those, see: Your general or sexual healthcare provider, your local library or bookstore, or a sex-positive sex toy store. For extra online support, you can check out sex-positive stores which include educational content or assistance, like Good Vibrations, Babeland or Early 2 Bed; or adult sexuality education; or research centers like the CSPH or the Kinsey Institute. For those seeking help with sex and sexuality issues over 50, see the AARP's excellent sexuality section.
  • Any issues you may have at other websites, such as bullying or harassment, issues of differing information, lack of service, etc. For help with those, see: Those other websites. Look for a contact from at the website to contact an administrator, owner or moderator.

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.