Understanding your sexual and reproductive health is key: from consent to contraceptives, education and awareness are important.
From the 14th to the 22nd September, it was Sexual Health Awareness week. The month also saw the release of Sex Education’s highly anticipated third season; you can find out more about the show here.
In light of these events, we asked you, via our Student Pulse opinion panel, how aware you are of the support out there when it comes to your sexual health.
Here’s what you told us:
Do you think your sex life has a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing?
Of those who are sexually active, over half of the students told us their sex life positively impacts on their mental health and wellbeing.
SCHOOL & COLLEGE
Which of the following services did your school or college provide?
The most common types of sexual health support that students at school or college are aware of are advice and education regarding sexual health and barrier contraceptives. Shockingly, 30% of school and college students don’t know what support their institution offers, with 27% saying they don’t offer any.
Which of the following did you get taught about at school?
A comprehensive sexual education programme at school is crucial to learning about your sexual and reproductive health. According to our panel, contraception, STIs, and pregnancy are topics most likely to be taught at school. Still, sex education is less likely to cover topics like healthy relationships, pornography and same-sex relationships.
How are schools preparing you for relationships?
Only two in ten students think their school’s sex education prepared them for healthy relationships.
Which of the following services does your university provide?
University students said the most common types of support they were aware of were barrier contraceptives, support for sexual misconduct, access to sexual health testing, and advice regarding sexual health. However, six in ten university students said they don’t know what sexual health and wellbeing support their institution offers.
How clued up do you feel about consent?
Almost 8 in 10 students told us they had a comprehensive understanding of consent before attending university. However, this still leaves 2 in 10 who either say they are unsure or do not have a comprehensive understanding. Universities should ensure that consent information and workshops are readily available and signposted for students. If your university does not offer this service, and you don’t feel clued up about consent, head here to learn more.
In regards to your sexual health and wellbeing, how supported do you feel by your university?
Positively, most (76%) say they feel at least somewhat supported by their university when it comes to their sexual health and wellbeing.
Would you know where to go to access sexual health and wellbeing support from your university?
Despite the majority of students feeling supported, a third of university students say they wouldn’t actually know where to go to get help from their university with issues regarding sexual health.
If you are struggling, or you want some advice about your sexual health and wellbeing, reach out to your university, as they will have a dedicated team.
In short, understanding your sexual and reproductive health is essential, and it’s just as important to reach out to others for support if you need it - whether that is friends, parents or your university. And remember to always contact your GP if you have any symptoms you are worried about.
You can find out more using the following links:
- NHS Live Well Sexual Health Resource
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service provides advice and support about contraception, abortion and sexual health.
- Brook – the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s provides advice, support and information about your nearest sexual health clinic
- FPA – provides information about individual methods of contraception, STIs, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy
- Switchboard: the LGBT+ helpline – provides an information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people.
- Terrence Higgins Trust – provides information, support and advice about HIV and sexual health
If you liked this article, we think you'll love:
- 7 Sexual Health Essentials Every Female Student Needs
- How to stay safe at university: the sexual health edition