Sexual Health and Relationships

University is widely recognised as an opportunity to meet new people, socialise, and enjoy new experiences. A key part of this means learning to enjoy different kinds of relationships and respecting and supporting each other.

We are all different. We all need to feel comfortable with our bodies and who we are, no matter who we are attracted to or whether we are single or in a relationship.

We recommend when you first arrive in Aberystwyth that you should register yourself with local health services. You should not wait until you need medical treatment. You can find more information on how to access local health services in our General Health guide.


Relationships

It’s important to remember that we all have several different relationships in our lives. These can include: family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, colleagues, pets and partners. In this guide we are going to be focusing on romantic and sexual relationships and some of the important factors you should be considering for yourself and talking about with your partner/s.

Respect yourself and respect your partner/s. It is so important that you constantly check in and have the conversations which matter. What people chose to do in their personal lives is their business, and it is not OK to judge anyone else and their choices.

We live in such a varied society and it is so important that we include everyone in open honest conversations about consent, sexual health, contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and sexual violence and abuse.


Consent

When people talk about consent it’s important that these conversations include enthusiastic active consent. Ensuring that you have talked about what consent means to you, that you have an understanding of the legalities of consent, and that communicating consent is vital before engaging in any sexual activity to ensure that you have the best possible experience.

Consent can be withdrawn at any time; this means that you need to be constantly checking in with each other and paying attention to their body language. Ensuring that you are both/all into what you are doing and making sure that everyone enjoys the experience is key.

Remember these conversations are an opportunity for you to communicate what sex means to you, what you like, what you’re interested in and which things feel good to you. Always keep it consensual; ask permission before initiating any sexual touch and continue checking in throughout the encounter.

Don’t forget that talking about how it went afterwards allows you to exchange feedback, enabling you to build upon the experience and enables you to feel safe and able to share your preferences.


Consent Training

Teaching people about consent equips them to have more safe, ethical and enjoyable sexual experiences.

Brook provide free and confidential sexual health and wellbeing information and advice from a team of experts. They also offer several free short educational courses through their sister website Brook Learn. One of the modules they offer is on the topic of Consent.

Brook’s four-part course helps you to understand the law, the gender norms, stereotypes and cultural factors which may affect someone’s ability to consent and supports people to communicate about consent with their partners.

Brook’s consent module was developed as part of a joint project with the University of Sussex and is based on original doctoral research by Elsie Whittington. Elsie worked extensively with young people to research what they understood about consent and to understand the reality of their own sexual experiences. The result includes the ground-breaking Consent Continuum and a series of tried-and-tested activities that Elsie developed as part of her work.

This course is divided into four modules:

  1. The meaning of consent
  2. Myths and the law
  3. The Consent Continuum
  4. Communicating consent

Each module provides a range of high-quality downloadable resources that you can use to understand various aspects of consent.

Each module is divided into:

  • Learn it: Exploring and understanding particular aspects of consent for yourself.
  • Teach it: Equipping you with all you need to explore consent with other people.

All you need to do is create an account on Brook Learn and away you go. To access the module visit Brook Learn Consent.


Accessing Sexual Health Services

In Aberystwyth you can access a range of Sexual Health Services at the local Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Clinic, based a short walk from the campus.

The clinic itself can be found next to the Lloyds Pharmacy and Padarn Surgery GP practice. It has disabled access but the service is currently by appointment only for the foreseeable future, by contacting the number provided below:

 

Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Clinic, Penglais Road, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DU

Telephone: 01267 248674 (Monday to Friday 9:15am – 4:30pm)

Website: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/sexual-health/sexual-health-clinics-in-ceredigion/

PrEP HIV Prevention is available across Hywel Dda Health Board.

You can also access home testing on the Frisky Wales website.


Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if the contraception has failed. There are two types of emergency contraception:

 

The Emergency Pill (sometimes known as the morning after pill)

The emergency pill must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken the more effective it is.

You can access the emergency pill free from a variety of services including:

  • Community Contraception and Sexual Health Clinic during clinic times.
  • GP Surgery (including those you are not registered with).
  • Accident and Emergency Departments.
  • Selected Pharmacies when an accredited pharmacist is on duty.

Alternatively, if you are 16 or over, you can buy the emergency pill from most pharmacies or chemist for around £25.

 

The Emergency Coil

The emergency coil can be fitted up to 5 days, or sometimes more, after unprotected sexual intercourse.

You can access the emergency coil free from a variety of services including:

  • (Selected) Contraception & Sexual Health Clinics - please telephone for details and an appointment beforehand.
  • (Selected) GP Practices - phone practice for details and an appointment beforehand.

 

Contraception

Contraception aims to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy occurs if a sperm meets an egg (ova).

Contraception tries to stop this from happening in a variety of ways:

  • keeping the egg and sperm apart.
  • stopping egg production.
  • stopping the combined sperm and egg (fertilised egg) attaching to the lining of the womb.

Contraception is free for most people in the UK through the NHS. Some contraceptives can also be purchased in shops, like condoms which are widely available.

There are several options available for people who have vaginas; however for people who have penises, there is only one, and that is condoms. You should use condoms to protect both your sexual health and that of your partner, no matter what other contraception you may be using to prevent pregnancy.

It may be worth doing some research before deciding which method you’d like to try, and it is always worth having a conversation with your GP or health practitioner to ensure that you are able to make a fully informed choice.

There are 15 types of contraception available, which means you should be able to find one that suits you and your needs best. Deciding which contraceptive works best for you can be a process where you try more than one. If you’re interested, you can see all of the different methods on the NHS website.

 

Barrier Methods

These are the only forms of contraception which protect the users from unwanted pregnancy as well as providing protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The reason these methods are referred to as barrier methods is because they provide a barrier to prevent sexual fluids being transferred between partners. Barrier methods are one use only and then need to be disposed of. Most barrier methods are made out of latex, however there are other options for people who have latex allergies.

 

External Condoms

An external condom covers the penis and acts as a barrier between it and the mouth, vagina, penis or anus. This prevents sexual fluids being transferred between partners, which provides protection against STIs as well as pregnancy.

There are 3 things you should always check before using a condom:

  1. That it’s in date – there should be a ‘use by’ date printed on the outer packaging
  2. That it has the CE mark or a kitemark on the packaging.

            CE marking indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for                                     products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA).

                A "kitemark" is a mark of safety and quality in the UK.

  1. Check that the packet isn’t damaged; before opening, feel for the rib of the condom inside the packaging and push it to the side so that when you tear it open you don’t tear the condom as well. Do not use your teeth to open a condom packet. Also, be careful if you have long or false nails not to tear the condom.

The Students’ Union Advice Service provides access to free condoms.

 

Internal Condoms

Internal condoms line the vagina or anus and act as a barrier between the orifice and a penis. They can protect against pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with a vagina (which could lead to an egg being fertilised).

Internal condoms also prevent sexual fluids being transferred between partners, which provides protection against STIs.

 

Dental Dams

A dental dam is a soft plastic latex or polyurethane square which could be used to cover the female genital area or anus during oral sex.

Dams are used to help act as a barrier during oral sex involving contact between the mouth and the vulva, or mouth and the anus. The dam might be useful in preventing STIs but there is currently no research to verify this.

You can make your own dam as they are not as widely available as condoms, by cutting the tip and the ring off of a condom and then cutting along its length to create a rectangle.

 

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is basically any kind of bacterial or viral infection which can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact. Anyone can get an STI. Some STIs are easily curable with medication; others may be permanent but can be managed.

It is important to seek treatment, as if left untreated then there can be long term affects. It’s easy to get tested; you can order home testing kits, which mean you can get a testing kit posted to your home - you complete the tests and then post them back. You’ll then receive your results within 2 weeks via text message.

More information about the various types of STIs and how to access a home testing kit can be found on the Frisky Wales website.


Sexual Violence and Abuse

Sexual violence is the general term used to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and many others.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence or abuse, it’s important you are aware of the Support Services which are available to you; these include:

  • Live Fear Free Helpline – a national helpline supporting those who affected by domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or violence against women. It’s free and operates 24/7 on 0808 80 10 800.
  • Mid Wales Rape Support Centre (RSC) – a free and confidential service providing those affected by rape or sexual abuse with specialist counselling and advocacy support.
  • Bawso – a voluntary organisation providing specialist services in Wales to black and minority ethnic women and children made homeless through domestic abuse, including topics such as forced marriage, FGM and ‘honour-based’ abuse.
  • West Wales Domestic Abuse Service – a free and confidential support service for anybody suffering or experiencing domestic abuse.
  • Dyn Wales – a free and confidential helpline which support men who experience domestic abuse in Wales.

What can the AberSU Advice Service do to help?

The AberSU Advice Service is independent from the University and provides a free, confidential, and impartial service to all Aberystwyth University students. 

The Advice Service can assist you in a range of ways, including:

  • Providing impartial advice for your circumstances.
  • Signposting on how to access local sexual health services.
  • Accompany you where appropriate to any meetings to provide support and representation.
  • Review any draft statements that you prepare and offer suggestions.
  • Help you to collate appropriate evidence to support your case.

To make an appointment to discuss all your options, including what support is available to you, please contact us below:


Useful links

Hywel Dda University Health Board

Brook

NHS - Your Contraception Guide

Frisky Wales (Home Testing)

Live Fear Free

New Pathways

West Wales Domestic Abuse Service

Fumble


First Produced: March 2021

Reviewed: May 2021

Useful Links

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