University is the place to go if you want to broaden your knowledge, acquire new skills and get the qualifications you need to secure your dream job. Starting university heralds a new phase in your life – a phase of independence, with ample new experiences on tap.
There’s lots of serious learning to be done but there are plenty of other student related pursuits you might want to indulge in too. These often involve meeting new people, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and staying up late. There will be ample opportunities to have fun and you might get to know one or two of your fellow students on a much more personal level. This may involve forming sexual relationships, there’s nothing wrong with this, but if sex is going to be on your curriculum be sure to make it safe. Universities take pastoral care seriously and want to make sure student health is a priority, support and advice is available on campus. It’s nice to know there are people around to look after you, but you need to take responsibility for yourself too.
Preventing Pregnancy and STI’s
If you are practicing unsafe sex you may well end up leaving university with more than just a degree. A baby or sexually transmitted disease is not something you necessarily want to end up with after your years at university!
Contraception is a must if you don’t fancy becoming a parent as you embark on your new career and there are many types to choose from. The contraceptive pill is an oral pill taken daily that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. It is very effective – as long as you always remember to take it! To remove that problem, you could consider using LARC (long acting reversible contraception). This includes the contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection, intrauterine device (IUD) and intrauterine system (IUS), these methods do not rely on the user remembering to take them each day, they remain effective until they are removed. Other options include the diaphragm and cap (domes that are placed inside the vagina to stop sperm from entering the cervix).
These methods are great for protecting against an unwanted pregnancy, but they will not stop you from catching a sexually transmitted disease. The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to use a barrier method during intercourse – make sure you use a condom. Easily available, you can buy them from pharmacies on any high street, from an online pharmacy, supermarkets, and from vending machines in the toilets at your local pub! You can also get them for free at sexual health clinics, from your GP, and often also onsite from your university campus.
In the heat of the moment contraceptive might be forgotten, it’s important not to make a habit of this. Unprotected sex is a bad idea and really not worth the possible consequences. If you do partake in sex without protection, or if for some unfortunate reason the condom splits, you will need to resort to emergency contraception, or the morning after pill. It can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse and provides the user with a high level of hormones to prevent pregnancy.
Advice and Support
Student health is a serious issue and practising safe sex is essential. You can talk to your GP or health practitioner or visit a sexual health clinic for advice on contraception and your university will be able to offer guidance via their own health service.
Amongst all the fun and excitement of being at university, it can be easy to forget the importance of fundamental matters, such as your health and wellbeing. But failing to take care your most basic needs can, and often does, lead to real issues, such as illness and depression. If you don’t respect the gravity of paying proper attention to your sexual health, university can soon change from being the fun experience you had anticipated. So make sensible choices; don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into over doing it or doing anything you’re not comfortable with; when necessary utilise the various health and advice services on offer; and stay in touch with friends and family throughout. That said, going to university remains a fantastic, often life-changing experience, so also don’t forget to enjoy and make the most of it!