Definitions of sex vary, and so do if and when people want to engage in it.
Sex can be very fun and great for mental and physical health, for those who choose to engage in it.
Sex must be consensual, meaning that all those participating are doing so actively and willingly. Importantly, consent to one activity does not mean consent to all activities, nor several times meaning all the time. For more information, see this simple cup-of-tea explanation and WomCam's Sexual Consent Campaign.
For more a detailed explanation of terms, including types of sex, applicable to all genders and sexualities, see the CUSU LGBT+ Sexual Health Guide.
See the NHS Sexual Health Hub for detailed information about contraceptives, FAQs, penis and vagina health, STIs, good sex, LGBT+ sexual health, fertility and menopause.
While sex can be fun, it should also be safe. Protection should be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being spread.
CUSU provides a wide range of sexual health supplies to students for free, including:
EXS Elite (regular) condoms
EXS Trim (small) condoms
EXS Magnum (large) condoms
EXS Ribbed, Dotted and Flared ‘3-in-1’ condoms (increases sensation)
Skyn Latex-free condoms (for students with latex allergies)
Dental dams (flavoured; may be used during oral sex or fingering)
Femidoms (worn inside the vagina; can be inserted up to 8 hours prior to activity)
Durex Play lubricant sachets (see below)
Lube is used to decrease friction and reduce the risk of supplies tearing. Only use water-based lubricants (e.g. saliva, branded lube) as oil-based lubricants, like lip balm or butter, disintegrate latex, i.e. condoms.
Supplies can all be collected from the CUSU Reception at 17 Mill Lane, 9am - 6.30pm on weekdays, in or out of term-time. (Note reduced opening hours out-of-term). Alternatively, you can access supplies in your College. Check with your College Welfare Officer how supplies are distributed in your college if you’re uncertain.
Once you’ve collected supplies, make sure you store them correcting (out of direct sunlight), and check they have a kitemark and are in-date before using them. Supplies are only to be used once, and then disposed. Breakage during usage greatly reduces protection; lube, and correct storage, reduces the risk of this.
Sexual Transmitted Infections are infections that may be passed on during sexual activity, including close sexual contact and oral sex. While they are nothing to be embarrassed about (they happen), steps should be taken to avoid catching and spreading STIs, and to treat them.
STIs do not always have obvious symptoms (chlamydia often doesn’t). So, it’s useful to get regular STI tests if sexually active with new partners, and to encourage partners to do the same.
While not all curable, all STIs are treatable and can be managed. The earlier they are treated, the better.
Visiting a sexual health clinic is free, confidential and non-judgmental. Remember, they’ve seen everything before! NHS information about clinics.
You can order some STI tests online for free if you’re under 25, e.g. Chlamydia tests from don’t pass it on.
This Students' Unions Advice Service page on STIs adds further reassurance about accessing support and medical help. You can also visit SUAS or your College Nurse, if you would like to talk things through.
Emergency contraception - the 'morning-after' pill or a coil - exists. 'Morning-after' pills and can be obtained free from a pharmacy (e.g. Boots) following a consultation, or purchased for around £25; for more information about where to obtain one, see here.
Like other supplies, pregnancy tests can be collected directly from CUSU or from your Welfare Officer. They can also be requested via the Students' Unions' Advice Service website. For each request, two pregnancy tests will be discreetly sent in an envelope to you at your college address, via the CUSU Mail Service. If the test is positive, it is advisable to do a further test to confirm, as false positives do occur.
See this Students' Unions' Advice Service page on pregnancy for information, and exploring the options available to you if you are pregnant. Among other places, medical advice, including about abortions, is available from your College Nurse and GP, and non-medical advice from the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service and your tutor.
Hopefully this will never happen, but if you do experience sexual harassment, assault or rape, know that you are not alone and it was not your fault. In addition to the options of reporting the incident(s) to your College, the University or the Police, the University Counselling Service has compiled a self-help list of the support services available to you. You could also seek support in College, from your common room officer, nurse, counsellor and/or tutor, from your GP (e.g. for medication), and the Students' Unions' Advice Service (e.g. if you want support reporting it).
Overall, wishing you safe and enjoyable sexual activity (if you choose to engage in it)! Remember, you can access free sexual health supplies from the CUSU Reception or via your College Welfare Officer. If you have further questions about sexual health or need support, speak to your College Welfare Officer, GP, College Nurse or the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service. Please note that, after providing initial support or information, Welfare Officers are likely to signpost you to other services. Any ideas for ammendments for this website page should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.