Sex is great, but all the stuff that goes with it can be confusing. Whether or not you were having sex before you came to University, it is relatively new for many students. The message is simple: if you are having sex, make sure you’re having safe sex!
Contraception is essential to prevent unwanted pregnancy and also to protect you against sexually transmitted infections (“STIs”).
There is a wide range of contraceptive options out there, but condoms are the only method of contraception which offers protection from STIs (including HIV). You can get free condoms from the Students' Union or the doctors surgey.
Many people use alternative methods of contraception as well as, or instead of, condoms. These include the combined pill, coil/IUD, mini pill, contraceptive injection or implant. Which is the best method for you will depend on a number of personal factors, we recommend speaking your GP to discuss this.
No method of contraception is 100% effective, and accidents (split condoms, missed pills...) do happen. Emergency contraception can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy. You can get emergency contraception (sometimes called the “morning after pill”) from the doctor or over the counter from most pharmacies (though you may have to pay for it if you are over 25). If you need emergency contraception, you should act quickly: it is most effective in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex.
Please see Hope House Sexual Health Services for up to date info, local clinics and to request a self-test kit.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (“STIs”)
STI'S can be passed on through a variety of sexual activities. Symptoms vary from person to person, and some may have no noticeable symptoms at all.
Condoms are the only method of contraception capable of preventing STIs, provided they’re used properly. If you’re not sure how to put a condom on properly, you can remind yourself - http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/how-do-i-use-condom.aspx
Some tips to stay healthy:
- Use a condom!
- If you do have unprotected sex, get yourself tested for STIs at a sexual health clinic
- If you’re thinking about not using condoms with your partner, make sure you both get tested for STIs beforehand. Trust us, this could save a lot of arguments in the long-run.
If you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV, there is treatment available to stop you becoming infected. Either visit your Doctors or Sexual Health Clinic.