Sexual health is an important aspect of students’ welfare. We therefore want you to know how to take care of your sexual health, just as you would with your physical health.
Whether this is your first time or your 100th time, we want all students that engage in sexual activity to feel safe, comfortable and confident in the fact they are consenting to sex and feel protected doing so.
Royal South Hants Hospital - Sexual Health Clinic Support
Introduction to sexual activity
University may be the first time you or others become sexually active, or regularly engage in sexual activity. So, it’s important that you’re fully informed about sexual health.
Definitions of sex vary, and so do if and when people want to engage in it.
Sex can be very fun and great for mental and physical health, for those who choose to engage in it.
Sex must be consensual, meaning that all those participating are doing so actively and willingly. Importantly, consent to one activity does not mean consent to all activities, nor several times meaning all the time.
See the NHS Sexual Health Hub for detailed information about contraceptives, FAQs, penis and vagina health, STIs, good sex, LGBT+ sexual health, fertility and menopause.
Using protection (Condoms)
While sex can be fun, it should also be safe. Protection should be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being spread.
The NHS Contraception Guide provides information on types of protection and how to use them. This simple diagram of how to put on a condom correctly is also useful.
The SU Exchange has free condoms for Solent students. Pop in and help yourself.
Lube is used to decrease friction and reduce the risk of supplies tearing. Only use water-based lubricants (e.g. saliva, branded lube) as oil-based lubricants, like lip balm or butter, disintegrate latex, i.e. condoms, making them ineffective.
Once you’ve collected supplies, make sure you store them correctly (out of direct sunlight), and check they have a kitemark and are in-date before using them. Supplies are only to be used once, and then disposed. Breakage during usage greatly reduces protection; lube, and correct storage, reduces the risk of this.
Other contraceptives may be used prevent pregnancy, though these do not prevent STI transmission. See guides provided by the NHS and FPA (Family Planning Association).
These other contraceptives include:
- Caps or diaphragms
- Combined pill
- Contraceptive implant
- Contraceptive injection
- Contraceptive patch
- IUD (intrauterine device or coil)
- IUS (intrauterine system or hormonal coil)
- Natural family planning (fertility awareness)
- Progestogen-only pill
- Vaginal ring
There are 2 permanent methods of contraception:
- Female sterilisation
- Male sterilisation (vasectomy)
Sexual Transmitted Infections are infections that may be passed on during sexual activity, including close sexual contact and oral sex. While they are nothing to be embarrassed about (they happen), steps should be taken to avoid catching and spreading STIs, and to treat them.
STIs do not always have obvious symptoms (chlamydia often doesn’t). So, it’s useful to get regular STI tests if sexually active with new partners, and to encourage partners to do the same.
While not all curable, all STIs are treatable and can be managed. The earlier they are treated, the better.
NHS information about STI symptoms and tests.
Visiting a sexual health clinic is free, confidential and non-judgmental. Remember, they’ve seen everything before! NHS information about clinics.
Your nearest sexual health clinic is the Let's Talk About It clinic at Royal South Hants Hospital (Royal South Hants Hospital, Brintons Terrace, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 0YG).
You can order some STI tests online for free if you’re under 25, e.g. Chlamydia tests from don’t pass it on.
Emergency contraception – the ‘morning-after’ pill or a coil – exists. ‘Morning-after’ pills and can be obtained free from a pharmacy (e.g. Boots) following a consultation, or purchased for around £25; for more information about where to obtain one, see here.
- Solent SU is working with our Head of Student Wellbeing to supply students with free pregnancy tests. Watch this space for updates.
Among other places, medical advice, including about abortions, is available from your GP, and non-medical advice from the Student Hub.
Support if you experience non-consensual ‘sex’
If you've been sexually assaulted it's important to remember that it was not your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don't be afraid to get help.
Consider getting medical help as soon as possible for any injuries and because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better.
Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped sexually assaulted or abused. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you. Help is available 24 hours a day. Find your nearest sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
Other places you can get help include:
Call NHS 111 or get help from 111 online
The police, or dial 101
In an emergency, dial 999
A doctor or practice nurse at your GP surgery
A voluntary organisation, such as Rape Crisis, Women's Aid, Victim Support, The Survivors Trust or Male Survivors Partnership
The 24-hour freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
The Rape Crisis have launched a 24/7 Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Line – a free phone and online chat service for anyone aged 16+ in England & Wales who has experienced any form of sexual violence, abuse or harassment at any time in their lives. More information, including the phone number and web chat, here.
A hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department
Sexual health clinic
A contraceptive clinic
A young people's service