By Gabriella Mansell
A common perception regarding university students is that we’re a promiscuous bunch that enjoy ‘getting it on’ with our fellow peers. In fact, a study by ‘student beans’ revealed that whilst at Uni 51 percent of students admitted to having a one-night stand. As well as this, a Gair Rhydd Cardiff student sex survey revealed that 59 percent of respondents admitted to having had a sexual encounter whilst drunk that they may not have had if they were sober.
Arguably these figures are cause for slight concern as having sex whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs decreases the likelihood that you’ll take the extra precautions you usually would. Despite this, there is nothing wrong with having regular sex just as long as it is practiced safely. When spontaneous nights happen, there is no need to feel guilty or embarrassed as long as you remember to be responsible engaging in the protected sex you want to have. There are several precautions you can take to ensure that you are having safe sex; avoiding contracting STIs and additionally for women, unwanted pregnancy.
The three main safeguards to implement are contraception, protection and getting checked regularly. The fourth alternative option is abstinence, although this is not necessarily a viable option or favourable for everyone. There are a variety of contraceptives on offer, from the pill to the implant. It is worth visiting the NHS website or your GP to decide which method of contraception is most suitable for you. Contraception is important, as it’s one of the primary methods of preventing unwanted pregnancy. However, it is imperative not to rely on contraceptives alone, as they do not protect you from contracting STIs. Using condoms as well as other contraceptives hugely prevents your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection as well as avoiding unwanted pregnancy. Another factor, which is commonly overlooked, is that STIs can be caught from oral sex, therefore if you are with an unfamiliar partner it is important to use a dental dam to fully avoid this. In addition to these useful methods of prevention, regular check ups are advisable to guarantee you’re in good health and not carrying an STI you are unaware of.
In the unfortunate event that you suspect you may have contracted a STI then you should stay calm. Although this can initially be embarrassing, it’s important to see a doctor to get tested as soon as possible. This is because STIs such as Chlamydia (which is the most common STI) don’t necessarily have any symptoms, but can cause long term health problems such as infertility, therefore it is of the upmost importance that you get checked right away so you can be treated and to also prevent you from passing the infection on to someone else.
So what services are on offer in Cardiff?
Contraception: If you require emergency contraception such as the morning after pill, the nearest clinics to the SU are The Roath Clinic on Albany Road, The Cardiff Royal Infirmary on Newport Road and Boots Pharmacy on Queen Street. All of the aforementioned clinics offer a walk in service in which you can ask for the morning after pill for free.
Free condoms are available in The SU reception, which you can pick up from SHAG’s condom bucket.
Testing: Park Place Surgery next to the Students’ Union offers a walk-in Contraception and Sexual Screening Clinic (for Chlamydia). As long as you’re a registered patient at Park Place or Roath House Surgery you can drop in every Wednesday from 1pm – 3pm.
Full STI testing is available (which includes blood tests) is available at The Royal Infirmary on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. To book an appointment text the word ‘SLOT’ to 07786202254 at 6pm the evening before you want to attend.