University is the time to go through the agonising emotional hurricane of untempered sex, situationships and maybe if you have the guts, a full-blown relationship. Of course, I’m not saying all of this has to be psychological torture- especially if you maintain healthy expectations and lay down the appropriate boundaries. These expectations can be as such; I’m gonna have sex with this person, it’s probably gonna be mediocre, and I’m probably gonna wanna never see them again; understanding and accepting this reality can be surprisingly liberating. However, this isn’t to say these expectations won’t be exceeded: in fact, the ease in which they are is what makes them so effective. Ultimately, just relax and take everything for what it is.
Safety rules: contraception does actually kinda matter
On a less sexy note, the downside to university being an uninhibited sexfest is that STIs are also always on the rampage. It’s unfortunate but true. The biggest offender, Chlamydia, can happen anywhere and everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and accounts for up to 46% of all STIs diagnosed in the UK. So, in an attempt to avoid this, it’s best to have some kind of game plan in force; the said game plan being condoms. And not just any condoms, make sure you treat yourself to the nice, vaginally safe ones. Not everybody considers the extremely annoying aftermath of using condoms (the scented ones are especially deadly), and even worse, ‘fun’ lubes. The use of glycerine in fun fruity lubes will almost always leave you with some nasty yeast infections, so make sure you yourself invest in a nice, natural (preferably water-based) lube. Sliquid Organics is a useful example of this, and also won’t totally bankrupt you; on the same note, Skyn condoms are also pretty harmless and lie at a similar price point to their more popular rivals (basically Durex).
Dealing with unwanted outcomes
Putting aside the potentially complicated emotional impacts sex can cause, the physical ones (primarily being contracting an STI, or dealing with an unwanted pregnancy) are something you can be more sufficiently prepared for. In both cases, there are lots of free resources out there for us to take advantage of; ordering STI kits through the university (which uses a sexual health organisation called Unity) is a must. However, bear in mind these usually take at least a couple of weeks to come (a small price to pay compared to the actual amount private providers charge). Student Health Services will then provide advice and support on how to best treat the STI. It does still feel somewhat premature to claim STIs have become totally de-stigmatised in the progressive world of 2022, however, it’s important to remind yourself that it is completely normal, and even a rite of passage. At the very least these experiences can lend themselves to expanding your empathetic abilities. In terms of pregnancy, this can be a lot more emotionally complex, especially under the current political climate; apparently, abortions have become a stark area of controversy again, as opposed to a much-needed human right. Regardless, they still remain legal in the UK, with at-home medical abortions being made permanent in August. If you find yourself in this situation, Student Health Services are there to provide you with a clear and cogent plan of action.
Overall, the hook-up culture at university is unrivalled; now is the time to make mistakes, experiment, and let loose without the constraints and consequences of actual adulthood.