Everything you need to know about sexual health before going to Uni
Many of us have had basic sex education by the time we leave for Uni, but Uni is probably the first time we are truly living “on our own” and with this often comes the beginning of an active sex life. If you’re someone starting Uni, these are everything you need to know about sexual health at Uni…
Yes, I’m sure you have had it drummed into you to “use a condom”. But that isn’t all there is to protecting your sexual health – and it isn’t the best option for everyone! Make sure you have a careful think about what protection suits you best. If you’re female, you might decide to go on a contraceptive pill, have a coil or, or get hormonal injections.
However, as these are medications that will be in your system every day, you need to make sure they are right for you and bear in mind that there are often side effects. Remember though, that these options don’t protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, the most common STIs among young people.
Have a plan of action for when things go wrong
Sometimes, things don’t go to plan, or something might occur that means you have had unprotected sex. If this happens, remember that panicking will not help the situation. Take a deep breath, and think of your plan of action to maintaining your sexual health at uni. If you are the female in the situation and are comfortable in doing this, you can drop by a chemist for plan B (the morning after pill). Don’t worry, they won’t judge you, and it isn’t embarrassing. But if you’re not comfortable with taking the pill don’t let your partner or anyone else influence you into doing so.
It’s also important to get yourself checked for STIs following unprotected sex, but the following day is too early to do this as if you had caught something it would not show up on a test yet. Wait 3-4 weeks and then go to your local clinic and ask to get tested – it’s simple, free, and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you are being responsible and safe, and that is admirable.
If you are sexually active, contracting STIs is always something you may be at risk of. Try not to feel terrified about this and just learn to practice safe sex. It’s a good idea to go for routine STI check-ups to be mindful of your sexual health at uni and to put your mind at ease too. Male and female condoms and dental dams protect against STIs, and we know we should all use them. It’s also key to remember that unprotected oral sex also puts you at risk of contracting STIs, something that many students forget.
But in the event that a condom or dental dam hasn’t been used, make sure you look out for symptoms and get yourself checked a couple of weeks later. It’s also important to remember that STIs, especially the most common ones like chlamydia, are easily treatable. If you leave chlamydia untreated for too long, it can cause complications with fertility and women can contract Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can result in a trip to the hospital. So, if you’re worried, don’t be hesitant or too ashamed to see a doctor – the sooner it’s treated, the better.
Keeping yourself safe
Uni is likely the first time you’ll have the freedom to do things like go back to someone’s house after a night out, or even use Tinder for ‘hook-ups’ (a pretty common and increasing practice for some students). Although it might not be sexual health as such, it’s important to remember basic safety rules here.
It’s a good idea to meet up with someone you’ve met online in a public place, and if you are meeting someone or going to their house, make sure a friend knows where you are going. As a female, especially, it’s also safer to bring someone back to your house rather than go to theirs if possible, unless you know the person and know where you are going.