University life is a time of learning and experimentation. Sex is just one part of that, but what does a healthy sex life look like and how do you maintain your sexual health while still having fun?
Whether you are sexually active or not, it's always best to be prepared and have all of the information. Whether you're talking to your partner/s, doctor or you're just keen to learn more, this a good place to start.
Consent Matters The most important thing is that sex is consensual, it’s something you both want to do – every time. And if you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to.
Even if you said you wanted to and then it doesn’t feel right. You can stop being sexually intimate at any point and that’s okay. You can also say yes to some things and not others and that’s okay too.
If you feel pressured, forced or coerced into having sex of any kind or you are substantially influenced by drugs or alcohol and cannot give consent, this type of sex is not okay and can be considered sexual assault.
Sex is not the same for everyone Our gender and sexual preferences differ, and so the way we have sex, who we have it with and how many partners we have are all different. This means our sexual health needs differ.
For more information on sexual diversity and sexual health services for the LGBTQIA+ community check out ACON.
How to have safe sex - a guide to contraception The two most important factors in safe sex are;
You use contraception (birth control) if you don't want to be pregnant/be a parent and to prevent against STI's.
- It’s consensual
- You use contraception (birth control) if you don't want to be pregnant/be a parent and to prevent against STI's.
Condoms (both male and female) are the only contraception that prevent both STI’s and pregnancy. When always used according to the instructions they are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Other contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy and the health service has female doctors who can support you in your decision.
Family planning has some useful fact sheets about the different types of contraception’s available. It's useful to have some idea about the different options before you discuss these with you doctor.
What to do if you've had unsafe sex Your first instinct might be to panic. Try not to.
- Consider seeing a doctor to get PEP if you think you might have been exposed to HIV (this needs to be done within 72 hours).
- If you’re female, head to the closest pharmacy and ask for emergency contraception (the morning after pill), to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
- Get an STI check as soon as possible - learn more about STI checks here.
There are two types of emergency contraception available in Australia. One can be used within 72 hours of sex (up to three days afterwards) and the other is a new type that can be used up to 120 hours after sex (five days afterwards). Emergency contraception is most effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as soon as possible after unsafe sex. So while you may be tempted to put it off, it's a good idea to take the morning after pill as soon as possible.
For more information about emergency contraception, please refer to Family Planning NSW – Emergency Contraception Fact Sheet.
STI Testing Did you know sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are really common in young people?
Most STIs don’t have symptoms, but they can have long term health consequences, including infertility. That’s why we recommend you get an STI check once a year if you’re sexually active, when you change sexual partners, or if you have unprotected sex or your condom breaks. STI testing is confidential, often quick and easy, and usually involves a simple urine test. Most STIs are easy to treat if they are diagnosed early.
Are you vaccinated against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Find out more about how vaccinations can protect you from STI's.
Vaccinations prevent some STI’s such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and Hepatitis B, which is passed through infected bodily fluids. It’s better to be vaccinated before you start having sex, but it’s better late than never.
Vaccinations are available at UNSW Health service, for more information click here.
HIV, PrEP and PEP Are you PrEP’ared?
PrEP, (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that prevents the transmission of HIV from a person who is HIV positive to a person who is HIV negative. It is often used in relationships where one partner is HIV positive and the other is not. PrEP is also used by people who have regular unprotected sex and want to avoid HIV.
Got a Medicare card?
If you are an Australian resident with a current Medicare card, you can access PrEP through the PBS at a discounted cost. This means any doctor can write a script for PrEP so you can get it at your pharmacy. Keep in mind you may have to pay for your doctor’s visit if it’s not a bulk billing service.
Don't have a Medicare card?
If you are an international student, there are still ways that you can access PrEP.
For more information about accessing PrEP online visit PAN.
You can also call ACON on (02) 9206 2000 or the NSW PrEP Infoline on 1800 451 624 or go to here for information on other options for accessing PrEP.
Worried you have been exposed to HIV?
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication you can take within 72 hours after having unprotected sex if you think you have been exposed to HIV. It is effective at preventing the transmission of HIV. Find out more about PEP.