- New relationships and experiences are part of university life. Here are a few important points to bear in mind:
- Sex is an emotional as well as physical experience. Don’t feel pressurised into having sex unless you feel ready to do so.
- Having fewer partners and knowing something of their sexual history can make sex safer.
- Raising the subject of safer sex with someone can be difficult.
- If you really can’t discuss it, or the opportunity doesn’t arise, make sure a condom is used anyway.
Condoms reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, and also reduce the risk of pregnancy, although not as reliably as other methods of contraception. They can be obtained free from the nurse or doctor at the Surgery.
More information on sexual health, provided by NHS Choices, is available here .
We also have our own handy sexual health booklet available to read here: Sexual Health Information
There is more information on sexual health services in York available here .
Sexually transmitted diseases
STDs are usually passed on by sexual intercourse but some types can be transmitted by oral sex or close genital contact. If you develop any symptoms in the genital area such as soreness, discharge, blistering, spots or warts you should arrange to see a doctor as soon as possible so we can diagnose and treat the problem promptly, and of course with complete confidentiality.
The HIV virus that causes AIDS is passed on through exchange of bodily fluids. This is most commonly by penetrative sexual intercourse or sharing needles. Normal touching or kissing cannot pass it on. The HIV virus is present in the heterosexual community, but the risk is very low for heterosexual students. For some students the risk might be higher if they have had sexual contact within the higher risk groups in society. These include intravenous drug abusers, the homosexual community, bisexuals and prostitutes. Students who have been sexually active in a country with a high prevalence of HIV infection may also be at greater risk.
Oral sex is less risky, but still not completely safe.
If you are worried about AIDS and feel that you may have been at risk, you are always welcome to discuss your concerns with the doctor or nurse.
If you need contraception, the following information may be of help, but it is important that you seek professional advice. We provide a full contraceptive and family planning service at the Surgery.
Condoms: Very important as a protection against sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS. Useful as a contraceptive for occasional or unplanned intercourse, but not reliable as a regular means of contraception. Can be obtained free from the nurse or doctor at the Surgery.
Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill: The most commonly prescribed contraceptive pill contains two hormones - oestrogen and progesterone. Very effective and simple to take. Also reduces bleeding, period pain and PMT, and protects against cancer of the ovary and womb. May not be suitable for some women - full medical assessment needed before prescribing. Pill users should try not to smoke.
Progesterone Only Pill (Minipill): Effective pill suitable for women unable to take combined pill. Contains one hormone only. May cause irregular periods. Not reliable if taken over three hours late, so you need to be a reliable pill taker.
Contraceptive Injection (Depo-Provera): Very effective, contains progesterone hormone which is given as an injection every 12 weeks. Periods may become irregular or stop, and some women gain weight. May take up to a year or more for regular periods and fertility to return after stopping injections. A good method for unreliable pill takers.
Intrauterine Device (IUD, Coil): Small plastic device containing either copper or progesterone hormone, which is put into the womb. Can provide contraception for up to five years. Copper coils can cause heavier and more painful periods, whereas progesterone coils tend to cause lighter shorter periods. Not suitable for a woman who has more than one partner or her regular partner has other Partners, but can be fitted in women who have or have not had children.
Diaphragm with Spermicide : Less effective than other methods above. Flexible rubber disc fitted into vagina to cover the cervix. Useful for women who do not wish to use a hormonal method. Needs to be fitted by doctor or practice nurse.
Morning After or Post-Coital Contraception: Post-coital contraceptive pill is effective if taken up to 72 hours after the episode of unprotected sex. It does not always prevent a pregnancy occurring, with the greatest risk being if the episode occurs right in the middle of the cycle (between two periods) when ovulation occurs. If in doubt it is wise to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Note – the sooner the pills are taken, the more effective they are likely to be.
The alternative method of post-coital contraception is having a coil (IUD) fitted. This is an extremely effective method of post-coital contraception and can be used up to five days after the episode occurred. Once fitted, the coil can then be left in for future contraception if required.
YorSexual Health (Sexual health services & drop-in)
YorSexual Health is situated at Monkgate Health Centre (close to the university campus) is a combined STI and contraceptive service. You can make an appointment over the phone or drop in and wait to be seen. All services are free and completely confidential.
The staff are specialists in all aspects of sexual health. They provide family planning (contraception services) including prescription for some contraceptive pills and free condoms, emergency contraception (morning after pill), longer lasting contraception (such as the implant and the coil), confidential advice on pregnancy and your options, STI testing and Chlamydia testing without an appointment. Their opening times are:
Monday to Wednesday:
8:30 – 19:00 Drop in & appointments
12:30-19:00 Drop in & appointments
8:30-15:00 Drop in & appointments
9:00 – 12:00 Appointments only
Details of YorSexual Health are available on our Contact Details page. Or you can go to the YorSexual Health website.
Sex & Young People
A comprehensive guide to the questions you may have about sex from the NHS
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Issues, symptoms and treatments
Sexual Health FAQs
Expert answers from a qualified doctor