Keep Fresh: Sexual Health

Freshers’ week is a new and exciting time for first time students. You’ll meet a lot of new people, and might even end up going home with one or two of them – which is great! Here are a few points to keep in mind before, during, and after sex to ensure that both you and your partner are as safe and comfortable as possible.

Before we get down and dirty with the details, it’s important when talking about sex to begin the conversation with consent. Make sure both you and your partner have the capacity and freedom to enthusiastically consent to any sexual activity. Verbal consent is essential, but remember to pay attention to other indicators such as body language, to ensure that your partner is comfortable with how things are progressing.
Protection and Contraception
Now that we’ve covered the basics of consent, it’s time to talk about how to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
Let’s start with pregnancy: If you are someone who menstruates, you should take some time to think about the best pregnancy prevention options for you, if pregnancy is a risk with your current partner. There are numerous types of contraception available. Which method works best for you depends on a number of factors, including your age; whether you smoke; your medical and family history; and the types of medications you may take. Information on contraception is available on the NHS website, or you can make an appointment with your GP, who will be able to discuss your needs and offer the best option for you.
While many methods of contraception prevent pregnancy, not all simultaneously protect from sexually transmitted infections and diseases – this is where condoms and dental dams come in. Both the QMU and GUU provide a comprehensive free condom service. Pick up a pack from the QMU cloakroom between 12pm-4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; or from the GUU porters box on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If necessary, you can make a dental dam from a condom by cutting off the top and then along the condom.

There are three different types of lube: water-based, silicon-based and oil-based. Each type has pros and cons, so consider these when deciding which type of lube best suits your needs. Water- based won’t stain your sheets, and washes off easily in water but it dries out faster and isn’t always great for those with sensitive skin. Silicon is hypoallergenic, so silicon-based lubes are better for you if this is the case. They are also thicker, so will last longer. The downside with silicon-based lube is that it can deteriorate the surface of silicone sex toys. When this happens, your toys become less sanitary because it creates abrasions in the silicone where bacteria can grow, so make sure to keep away from this type of lube if you plan on using sex toys with your partner. Oil-based lube is less popular than water and silicon-based as although it is the type that requires the least amount of reapplication, it has a major flaw: it increases the chances of a ripped or torn condom, defeating the condom’s purpose and your good time in the process. So if a condom is required with your partner, stick to water or silicone-based.

Testing and Abortion Access
Sandyford Central clinic is the main service located near Glasgow’s Charing Cross, which you can visit for testing or abortion access. It provides a wide range of sexual, reproductive and emotional health services and is open each weekday, with early evening appointments available Mondays to Thursdays. Alternatively you can visit Terrence Higgins on Sauchiehall Street, which holds drop in testing clinics, details of which can be found on their website. Other options for STI testing or advice about pregnancy or abortion can be accessed through your GP.

[Megan Willis – she/her]


[Image: robertelyov]



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