(see also: STIs, Pregnancy)
Many people may avoid seeking advice relating to safe sex because they feel embarrassed or put off by guides which stress pre-meditative health and safety issues surrounding sexual behaviour. However, STIs are on the rise in England and it cannot be overstated just how important it is to educate yourself about the health risks associated with various sexual activities.
Once you have made the decision to have a sexual relationship (and remember STIs can often be passed on during intimate physical contact as well as full sexual intercourse) it is then time to talk about ‘playing it safe’.
By considering a few simple alternatives it means that you can relax instead of worrying about unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you use a reliable method of contraception the risk of unintended pregnancy is low, however, some methods are unable to protect you from STIs. Whilst each of the methods on the list below are very effective when it comes to avoiding unwanted pregnancy, no single method offers 100% protection and they do not protect against STIs:
- Contraceptive pill (combined or progesterone only)
- Contraceptive patch
- Diaphragm/cap with spermicide
- Contraceptive injection/implants
- Emergency contraceptive (morning after pill)
- Intrauterine device (IUD) or coil
- Intrauterine system (IUS)
In order to try and prevent STIs as well as pregnancy you will need to opt for a barrier method of contraception, such as the male or female condom.
Used properly condoms are a reliable barrier against STIs (including HIV). Some general advice:
- Always read the instructions on the pack
- Always choose condoms which carry the British Standards Institute (BSI) kitemark or the European CE mark
- Some sexual practices require stronger types of condoms (see links below)
- It is a good idea to carry your own condoms
- Do not be afraid or embarrassed at the way this looks
- Being prepared does not mean you are planning to sleep around, it means that you take the sexual health of yourself and your partner seriously
- Going abroad can make it difficult trying to obtain condoms so remember to buy them before you go
The range of contraceptives now available means that it is worth taking time to research your options to find the most suitable method to match your circumstances.
Where to get help and information
Your GP will be able to provide advice on what type of contraception would best suit you and your circumstances. To find your nearest local GP follow the Find Your Local Doctor link at the bottom of this page.
Visit your nearest Family Planning Clinic/Sexual Health Clinic/Gum Clinic (See links).
Leaflets listing local clinics can be obtained from Student Services Reception. Alternatively, you can find this list on the Sexual Health page in the Keeping Healthy, Keeping Safe section of the Welfare & International Support web pages.
The Family Planning Association provide an excellent source of confidential information on sexual health, contraception and pregnancy. This information can be found on their website or by calling their helpline on: 0845 310 1334 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am - 6.00 pm).
Information leaflets are available in Student Services main receptions, and other relevant advice is also available in the Keeping Healthy, Keeping Safe section of the Welfare & International Support web pages.
Welfare & International Support
Tel: 0191 227 4127
Student Support and Wellbeing
Ask4 Help Desk
Coach Lane Library
Coach Lane Campus
Tel: 0191 215 6590