Everything you need to know about sex

Sex and university are intrinsically linked, find out how to get the best and avoid the pests.

Having sex is serious business, but lots of people don't think clearly about it in the heat of the moment. It can affect your health - sometimes permanently - and even land you with a child you're not prepared for, so it's important to consider how to approach it during your time at university.

So, what’s different about sex at university/college?

Potentially, a lot. For starters, you might have not had sex yet – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Plenty of people haven’t when they get to university. Or you might not want to have sex yet – nothing wrong with wanting to wait, either.

However, at university you’re likely to meet lots of people you fancy and might want to date or have sex with. Most students tend to live away from their parents, so they won’t know if you bring someone home. University is usually the first chance people get to live independently, so it’s natural to want to do things you might not have been able to before. And drinking alcohol - which tends to be a popular past-time at university! – might also affect how you make your decisions about what you do and with whom.

Is it safe to sleep around?

Whether you are with a long-term partner or you’re with someone different every night, it’s important to remain safe by using some form of contraception. Sleeping with multiple partners can carry other risks, too – the risk that you’ll end up feeling emotionally confused or do things you’ll later regret. No one is judging you on your sexual choices, but ensure you’re fully informed of the risks and how to keep healthy.

What are the risks?

There is the risk that you or your partner could get pregnant – in this case, you’d need to decide whether you want to parent a child together or not. For most people, the risk of becoming a parent is a no-brainer, but sexually transmitted infections are a big concern too.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise among sexually active young people. HIV/AIDS is the most well-known and scariest STI, but there are also lots of other nasty things you could get.

Chlamydia will often cause no symptoms in both men and women, but left untreated for a long period of time, it can cause infertility. It can be easily treated once diagnosed, though.

Gonorrhoea (also known as ‘the clap’) can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and/or arthritis. Symptoms in men are more apparent, and it is estimated that nearly half of women who have the disease do not experience symptoms.

Syphilis is an STI that starts as an infected sore, and can be treated easily with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can lead to a stroke, paralysis, blindness or even death.

Pubic lice (or crabs) is probably one of the least harmful, but definitely unpleasant – these tiny (2mm long) insects can be spread through close body contact and even using a condom will not prevent them spreading. It is, however, treatable.

You could also contract herpes, which is a viral disease that will stay with you and break out recurrently for the rest of your life – it causes painful blisters on your genitals and can be spread to your sexual partners. No pressure, then!

That’s not even all - there are more STIs you can contract. All in all, no one would really want to expose themselves to the risk of contracting any STI – which is why you need to be informed about how to protect yourself.

How do I keep safe?

Predominantly, the only way you’re going to really ensure that you are protected from most of the risks of having sex is to use a condom. This will prevent the sperm from meeting the egg to cause pregnancy, but it will also stop any exchange of bodily fluid at all, which will lower the risk of contracting an STI.

You can get condoms for free from family planning centres, student unions, student-friendly bars and events, or Brook Advisory Centres. Or you can buy them from chemists, supermarkets, or from vending machines in pub, bar and nightclub toilets.

Make sure the box of condoms has the CE mark - this means that they've been tested to European safety standards. Condoms that don't have the CE mark won't meet these standards, so don't put yourself at risk by using them.

We don’t want to use a condom

If your partner is pressuring you into not using a condom, perhaps you should consider finding a new partner – as this one is putting both your health and theirs at risk. However, if you’re in a long-term relationship, then perhaps other methods of contraception will be preferable. There are a variety of different forms of contraception available: The combined pill; the injection; the implant; the patch, and more. It might be worth seeing a sexual health advisor or your doctor for advice on what contraceptive method is right for you – if you’re forgetful, you don’t want the extra burden of having to remember to take tablets, for instance.

If you’re looking at alternatives to condoms, then bear in mind that other forms of contraception will not protect you from STIs as effectively - and some STIs can be spread even if you do use a condom.

What happens if we have an accident or I think I may have an STI?

It’s important to act quickly if a condom splits or if you’ve had unprotected sex. Emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex and should prevent a pregnancy. It is not to be considered as contraception for regular use, and if you are taking it for unprotected sex, you should still get tested for STIs as the pill cannot help prevent the spread of infection.

You can get tested for STIs at a GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic, a family planning clinic, or a Brook Advisory Centre.

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Recruitment Consultant (Trainee / Experienced)

£18000 - £27000 per annum + doe OTE £45K: SThree: SThree are always looking fo...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are a recent psychology graduate ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Graphic Designer

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Largest Independent Motor D...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own