Are you wrapping up for Christmas?

Courtesy of Durex

‘Tis the season to be jolly but those students who aren’t staying sexually protected this Christmas may find themselves with some unwanted presents, writes Samantha Booth.

Courtesy of Durex CHRISTMAS List 2012: Dear Santa, I would like a new phone, a camera, a new pair of shoes, the new Mumford and Sons album and an STI. Wait.
Spot the odd one out.
Without knowing it, every year students are contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and research has found over half of students have had drunken sexual encounters since starting university, making Christmas a prime time to catch an STI with the rise in seasonal socials.
In the recent National Sex Survey 2012, Swansea University students were found to be some of the most promiscuous, being ranked 12th in the country for the average number of sexual partners since starting university.
That was estimated at around 4.5 partners per student. Economics and related students are the most sexually active and around 6% of all UK students are having sex every day.
With sexual activity can come nasty surprises when suitable precautions, such as condoms or femidoms aren’t used.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are diseases passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex or sometimes through genital contact.
These range from the efficiently treatable pubic lice to the incurable virus, HIV.
The survey found that 66% of students have had unprotected sex at some point during their life and only 27% of students use a condom when having sex.
Most students have probably had sex education mechanically drilled in to them since high school and this shows as 92% of students in the survey have never had an STI.
This leaves 8% of students who have had sex, contracting an STI. The majority of them caught chlamydia, which can easily go undetected and which, if untreated, can cause infertility in women.
One student caught chlamydia in his second year from having unprotected sex with a woman he had been seeing.Courtesy of Brook.org.uk
After they broke up, he thought he should have a routine check up at the local doctors.
“I just went to the surgery for a random check up because I felt like I needed one and then it showed up.
“We didn’t use a condom and I had chlamydia for about two weeks.
“I went on antibiotics and it soon cleared. I learnt my lesson and I have since used protection with my next sexual partners.
“I don’t think I passed it on to anyone but I called up my last four sexual partners just to inform them of the situation. Nearly all of them took it quite well.”
Alcohol and sex are two activities that go hand in hand for some students. The National Sexual Health survey found that 59% of students sometimes mix the two, and 5% of students are intoxicated for every sexual encounter.
One second year student found out that she had chlamydia after having drunken sex and being contacted by one of her sexual partners.
“I was drunk when I slept with this person and we didn’t use a condom because I was on the pill and didn’t think there would be any problem.
“My symptoms were discharge and a general change in that area and thrush like symptoms.
“One of my sexual partners contacted me to say he had chlamydia and when I went to get tested I found out I had the infection too.
“They gave me antibiotics and it took a few weeks for it to clear up. They did tell me to tell my other sexual partners, because I was embarrassed and it would have caused embarrassment in my friendship group.
“I have definitely learnt that I need to be more careful in future and use protection. I would definitely let other sexual partners know in the future if I was to catch anything again.”
Swansea University Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Charlotte Britton, says how tests for STIs should be a regular habit:
“You can find everything you need for a healthy sex life in the SU (other person not provided). We’ve got condoms – including latex free for you sensitive types of lube, femidoms, dental dams and pregnancy tests too.
“There’s no shame in getting tested – it should be something that every sexually active person should be doing. Think of it as an MOT, necessary and pretty regular! If you’re not registered with a doctor, there’s one on campus, or there are lots dotted around Uplands and Brynmill.”
So, to avoid any nasty Christmas presents this festive season, be careful, wrap up and stay protected!

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