It’s that time of the year again: Fresher’s Week. Tens of thousands of new students are starting their first year at uni, not only in the UK, but across Europe. While Fresher’s Week is known as a ridiculously fun way to make friends and blow off steam after high school exams, an increasing number of worrying statistics indicates that it also has a less pleasant side to it. An (admittedly unscientific!) survey conducted by the student hook-up website Shag at Uni revealed that 23% of students in the UK had caught an STI from a sexual partner during their first year at university – that is nearly one in every four students! Of course, this was a poll conducted only on users of the website itself, so take those results with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, they do suggest that at least a subsection of students is behaving irresponsibly when it comes to sex.
Although it is a national requirement in the UK for schools to have some sort of sex education, often this information is inconsistent and purely focuses on the biological aspect of sex. Moreover, when alcohol is involved, many students seem to forget anything and everything they learned about safe sex. Research carried out by the Family Planning Association (FPA) shows that people are more likely to lose their inhibitions and less likely to worry about using contraception or about getting an STI when they’ve been drinking alcohol, and this can have far-reaching consequences…
It’s not uncommon that after a night out with friends at university, you find yourself at a random university hall at 2am with a marginally good-looking person to shack up with, but without a condom. You’ll be tempted, he or she has promised they’re clean and a girl can always take the morning after pill, right? No.
If neither of you can be bothered to knock on a flat mate’s door and ask for a condom then neither of you deserve to have a good time! Odds are he or she has never been checked and you’re about let yourself in for a whirlwind of STIs. Most of all, no one really wants to start their year with a chlamydia infection.
While sex can be really fun and enjoyable, STIs aren’t. Although some can be treated fairly easily, others can have lasting consequences. HIV requires lifelong treatment and, if left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility in women. So, it really isn’t just a matter of worst-case-scenario-take-the-morning-after-pill.
If you’re at university and looking for protection: many student unions sell condoms and (flavoured) lube. Make sure you take advantage because although they might be relatively pricey it’s rather unlikely your student loan stretches to childcare support.