You can text us your questions at (206) 866-2279.
The service is free, but message and data rates may apply, just like with with any texts you send or receive to or from anyone. If you don't need us right now, you can save our number to your phone so that you can reach us easily when you do have a need.
The SMS (text) service is a free question and answer service available for those with mobile phones and the capacity to send and receive text messages. Your question, and it will be answered, and only seen, by our staff or volunteers. We'll pick up the line as quickly as possible like we do at the message boards to help you out fast. We do not see or record your phone number or your name: the text service assigns you a random number, and that's all we see.
Use for: Very short, simple questions. For help finding content on the site to answer your questions -- it's kind of like calling the librarians for our site -- referrals for in-person local services like sexual or mental healthcare, or a referral to our message boards or live chat when you can't figure out which service is best for you. The SMS service is not intended for answers that can be found in our site content, or can be answered or discussed on the boards or via the live chat service. It is also not intended for in-depth, ongoing discussions, or questions that don't fit in a text or two.
How fast will you be answered? Within a few hours to 24 hours. Response times may vary, but just like with the message boards many of our users will get answers within less than an hour of asking. We know sometimes your questions are time-sensitive, so we'll do our best to answer them as fast as we can. Response time is often faster between the hours of 6AM and 11PM PST.
Hablamos español: Tenemos voluntarios disponibles para los usuarios de habla hispana.
Text users are expected to follow our general guidelines for the website when using the text service.
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
- abuse, assault, harassment or other kinds of trauma
What CAN'T Scarleteen's direct services help you with? (And where can you get help?)
- Scarleteen staff will not answer or engage with ANY questions or discussions stemming from or about pregnancy fear or anxiety with people who are not pregnant or who are not or have not been otherwise directly involved with an actual pregnancy. For more on this recent policy change, what we CAN help with, and links to help with issues usually at the root of these fears, including anxiety and other mental health issues, click here.
- 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, 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, or users stating they are at risk of harming themselves in any way. 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. If you feel at risk of self-harm or suicide, calling 911 or a suicide hotline is the right next step.
- 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. 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.
- Legal advice. For legal help, see: A lawyer or contact your local legal aid service. Looking for age of consent laws and policies? Check out: Worldwide Ages of Consent @ Avert.
- 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 as 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.
Why did we add the ability to text us in 2009?
Because it's always been our aim to make sex education and information as accessible as possible.
Teens and young adults have enough on their plates already: we want to make getting the important sexuality, sexual health and relationship info and support you (or they, depending on who is reading this) need easy. Like other services on Scarleteen, we also like that this is something that (save any usual texting charges) is free for our users and which protects and respects your privacy. According to a 2008 Nielsen study, teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 “text more than any other demographic group” clocking up an average of 1,742 texts a month. Approximately 79% of all teens have a mobile device – a 36% increase since 2005. CTIA-The Wireless Association® released research in 2008 on cell phone use by teens aged 13-19 in the United States. From 100 questions about cell phones, perceptions, and attitudes, some of the results included that: 57% agree or somewhat agree that the cell phone has improved their quality of life and 18% agree or somewhat agree that the cell phone has positively influenced their education. 35% have used their cell phone to reach out to someone in need. The younger the teen, the more likely they are to choose text messaging over talking on the phone. 28% of teens are browsing the web on their cell phones. 66% want cell phones to provide the freedom to get an education from any location on earth.