If you’re starting as a fresher this autumn, your university has probably sent out a checklist of what to pack. While this will prepare you for all the culinary delights you’ll be whipping up over the next year, we reckon that there are a few items missing.
University checklists tend not to mention that there will be people having sex during Fresher’s Week (though sexual health initiatives in student unions are a great resource for when you’re there), a lot of which will be drunken. Regardless of this, it’s important that new students enter university with the means and the knowledge to stay safe.
Here are a few sexual health tips for Freshers Week and beyond:
Locate the Nearest Sexual Health Clinic
If you think you may have contracted an STI, the last thing you want is to have to ask a bus driver where the closest sexual health clinic is. Locate the closest sexual health clinic to your halls before moving to university, so any concerns you have can be dealt with quickly.
The FPA Find a Clinic service is a quick and simple way to locate the closest sexual health clinic to your new home. If you are embarrassed this may appear in your browsing history, use Incognito Mode in Google Chrome to cover your steps.
Even if you do not detect any symptoms, you should visit a sexual health clinic if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner.
This one is just as important for girls as it is for guys. Never be fooled by excuses such as “I don’t carry condoms with me” or “it’s more intimate without condoms”. Just keeping a few spare condoms in your bag and bedside drawer gives them no excuse to go bareback.
The NHS-run Freedoms shop stocks them as cheaply as 9p per condom, so there’s no excuse not to stay safe.
Ladies, life during the first year of university can be a little less structured than normal. Playing Mario Kart all night and then getting up at 1.40pm just in time to watch Neighbours on Channel 5 whilst eating 8p noodles can soon become the norm, but this isn’t ideal if you’re taking the Pill.
Make a monthly chart on a whiteboard in your room, so you can keep up-to-date with when to take your contraceptive. If you are in a flat with other girls also taking the pill, set out to remind one another not to forget.
You can discreetly get the pill for free from the NHS (as well as other options, such as the coil and implant – make an appointment to discuss your choices with your local sexual health clinic).
If you have contracted an STI, it is important you are responsible and don’t have sex until you are given the green light from your doctor. Jumping back in the sack will put others at risk. Freshers Week is a great time to meet new people and your best friends for the next 3 or so years. Don’t ruin it by infecting your new mates.
Only Have Sex If You Want To
This one is pretty self-explanatory but seriously: don’t feel pressured to have sex just because everybody else seems to be. For many new students Freshers Week is going to be booze-fuelled, but keep in mind that you’re much more likely to make a silly decision with six Jagerbombs in your system.