The truth about Sexual Health

Updated timings of sexual health clinics around Cardiff. Source : Cardiff and Vale UHB - Sexual Health Department

By Ashavari Baral

The conversation of sex education and sexual health is way more open than it was a couple of years ago. Earlier this year Netflix came out with a show called ”Sex Education” that basically addressed the communication barriers young adults face when talking about sex. The show focuses on a variety of topics such as the common misconceptions we have of sex, consent, abortion and the insecurities people feel about their body image. Renewed for a second season, the show also highlights that young adults feel they know a lot about sex, but in reality they are riddled with delusion.

A common sexual misconception is that ”You cannot get an STI from oral sex”. While the risk is less than when you have vaginal/anal sex, many STIs, including syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes and chlamydia, can be spread through oral sex. STI tests are not only for those who have an active sex life, Anyone who has unprotected Oral, vaginal and anal Sex can become infected with an STI, so it is always best to practice safe sex and get yourself and your partner tested.

Another myth especially amongst us ladies is that ”Woman on their period can’t get pregnant”. Chances of pregnancy are highest during ovulation. ”The egg can live for several days in your body, and additionally, not all women ovulate two weeks before their period; some ovulate closer to the time of their actual period”. ( Sperm also lives in your body for up to a week, the combination of the two can often lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

A common misconception is also around ”the morning after pill”, this pill need not be taken only the morning after, Emergency contraception pill can be given up to 3-5 days after unprotected sex but the sooner they’re taken the better. A realisation that most young adults feel during their first time is that sex feels and looks like it does in the movies, this is never (or most of the times) not the case – It will possibly hurt the first time and may not be what you pictured it to be.

A lot of people also believe ”pulling out” is a safe substitution for birth control. It only takes one sperm to get a woman pregnant. So, it’s better to be safe and use a condom. Lastly, contrary to what the students on the show believe, not everyone is having sex. Sex is a choice that every individual should be making in their own time, without feeling pressured. Don’t listen to the banter about being a ’40 year old virgin’ and push yourself to do something that you are not comfortable with. Navigating these pre-requisites can boost your self confidence and when you finally do have intercourse, you will be happy that you took your time with it. Also remember there is way more to sex than just the physical aspect,in a world that emphasises looks so much, it is honestly okay to be conscious about your body and are not alone. But just a reminder, your fantastic personality always comes first.

SHAG (Sexual Health Awareness Group) is a student-led service within Cardiff University Student’s Union, SHAG is based on helping Cardiff’s students deal with sexual problems and give them the knowledge to be aware of sexual health issues that are commonly faced. You can always message them for help on Facebook and use their services (they have a condom dispenser at the SU!). If you notice anything abnormal such as genital problems, abdominal discharge visit Cardiff Royal Infirmary. Other clinics around the city by the Sexual Heath Department are always at your disposal.

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