With students all over the country starting university, and many enjoying their new-found freedom during Freshers’ Week, local doctors are urging students to practise safe sex by taking care to use a condom or a dental dam.
Doctors at Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula CCG and Stafford and Surrounds CCG are advising students to be aware of the risks associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and how to avoid them. In 2015, there were more than 435,000 STI diagnoses in England and there is still a great deal of confusion about how people can catch STIs.
STIs can be transferred from person to person during all types of sex – vaginal, anal and oral. As such, it is incredibly important that anyone who is sexually active has access to the appropriate type of protection.
Condoms are the only form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy and also prevent the transfer of STIs. There are many different types of condom to make sure that everyone who uses them can enjoy safe sex, with different sizes, tastes and materials available. Both male and female condoms are available and they are an effective method of protection for all sex involving a penis.
The risk of catching an STI from oral sex is often overlooked but can be reduced by using a condom or a dental dam. A dental dam is a small square of plastic that acts as a physical barrier between a mouth and vagina or anus. They can either be bought premade or can be made at home by carefully cutting a condom into a flat sheet.
You can get condoms and dental dams from a variety of sources: online, in shops, pharmacies and student unions and c-card schemes are available in some places. You can also get free condoms from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries.
Accidents do happen and if you think that you might be at risk of having contracted an STI, it is important to get tested to avoid transferring it anyone else. Tests are available at your local sexual health clinic and some GP surgeries.
Stafford’s new dedicated Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) service recently moved to a new central location at the Civic Centre. Delivered by South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the county council, the service provides access to emergency contraception, screening, treatment and advice and referrals from an on-site health specialist. Contact the GUM Department directly on freephone 0300 1245022.
You can get advice and information on sexual health, protection and STIs from the following places:
- your GP
- the national sexual health line (0300 123 7123)
- a community contraception clinic
- a pharmacy
- a sexual health clinic
- via NHS Choices