This week marks Sexual Health Week and, while your sexual health should always be a number one priority, this might be the time to check in with yourself, make sure your contraception is right for you, and book in an STI or smear test. Conveniently Sept. 16 also marked the start of freshers week for so many students. Moving away from home is and meeting lots of new people can be really exciting, and sometimes working out ‘adult’ things like where your new doctors slip down the priority list. So here’s what you need to know about sexual health at university.
Getting an STI test after sleeping with someone new can be a pretty good habit to get into to give yourself peace of mind. However, a new survey by the online doctor service Zava found that over 250,000 students in the UK aren’t sure where to go if they think they have an STI. With the average student in the UK having unprotected sex 12 times during their time at university knowing where to go is pretty key. Forty-seven percent of the students that Zava surveyed said they had put off going to get tested because they were embarrassed in front of a doctor or nurse, 32 percent said they were scared they’d be seen by someone they know, and 25 percent said fear of the results was enough to put them off going.
Dr Kathryn Basford, who is a GP at Zava said in a statement, “while universities should look to educate and provide access to sexual health services for their students, students also need to take some precautions of their own.” She continued:
“As our data shows, the average university student will have unprotected sex 12 times during their studies. This puts them at risk of catching an STI as well as spreading an STI they’ve already got.”
Taking control of your own sexual health can feel super liberating. Knowing that you’re doing the most to protect yourself, making sure you’re healthy, and in tune with your sexual wellness is amazing. However, knowing where you can go for more information or to be tested is pretty fundamental to that. Of the 1001 students that Zava surveyed 87 percent said they felt their university could do more to promote good sexual health and when Zava followed up this statistic and looked into the help provided by universities 42 percent didn’t have a webpage to help students learn more about STIs.
Public Health England published a report in June 2019 that revealed that 1.3 million chlamydia tests were taken by 15-24 year olds in the UK in 2018 and 131,000 came back positive which equates to 359 diagnoses a day. Dr Sarah Welsh, co-founder of HANX condoms said in a statement “condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against STIs, which is why it was crucial to create a condom that is enjoyable to use. Our condoms are ultra thin, silky smooth and clean scented, making for a more pleasurable experience.”
When it comes to keeping your sexual health in check you shouldn’t feel any shame about getting tested and staying protected. Sexual Health Week is a great time to get clued up on where your nearest clinic is, what an STI test involves, and where you can buy different brands of condoms that suit you.