As students, it is not totally unimaginable that you might find yourself making that stride of pride in the daylight hours of Exeter, still drunk from the night before, wearing last night’s makeup, and grasping your glitter clutch bag under your arm. Or if that’s not your style, you may have found your perfect match in the form of another student at Exeter, and are longing for the days when you get that (suspiciously) free wedding ceremony at Reed Hall. Either way, you’re probably having sex. So, just in time for the Christmas ball shenanigans and end of term blow outs, here is a bit of information on how to keep your sexual health in fighting shape ready for the Christmas holidays and the New Year.
Sidwell Walk-In Health Centre aka The Holy Grail
Sidwell Walk-In health centre is a widely unacknowledged haven of sexual health in Exeter, and even as a third year, there are many people who have never used its services. It’s pretty self-explanatory, you can walk in at any point during their open times and get most services for sexual health including STI testing, blood tests, pregnancy tests and contraception. The only time you won’t be able to get tested for STIs Saturday mornings. Naturally, depending on the time you go determines how long you’ll have to wait to be called in. Sometimes, if it’s really busy, you can call up to book an appointment and they’ll fit you in within the next 24 hours.
Here is a list of all the services they can provide.
- Information and advice on contraception and sexual health related problems.
- Emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected sex (and sometimes beyond).
- All methods of contraception including: Pills Patches Injections Implants Coils – IUDs/IUS.
- Free Condoms.
- Unplanned Pregnancy testing.
- Unplanned pregnancy advice and onwards referral.
- Advice and Information about fertility and sterilisation.
- Testing for all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Diagnosis and treatment of all STIs including warts, herpes, male urethritis, Chlamydia and Gonorrohoea.
- Diagnosis of non-STI genital conditions including bacterial vaginosis, ‘thrush’ (candida), male balanitis.
- Hepatitis vaccination where appropriate.
- Care for people living with HIV.
- Management of genital skin problems.
- Care for patients who have been sexually assaulted / raped.
- Help with sexual problems.
Not only do they provide all of these services, but the nurses are amazing too. Confronting issues surrounding your sexual health can be a really intimidating experience, especially if it’s your first time and (shocker) you weren’t educated about it in school. However, all the nurses are so encouraging and proud of the fact that you’re being responsible and looking after your body. There’s always an expectation that you’ll be shamed into abstinence or they’re going to announce to the whole staff/everyone you’ve ever met what you’re telling them in the office, but that’s simply not the case. They’re just pleased that you’re safe or are at least taking the actions to be safe in the future. If anything, they’ve almost always heard worse stories than what you’re about to tell them and you most definitely are not the only one who didn’t use a condom/had a one night stand/slept with someone and never spoke to them again. Honestly, it’s all good, we’ve all been there.
Rating: 10/10 would recommend.
Here is a link to any more information you might need regarding services, or contacting the team at the clinic.
Student Health Centre (on campus)
The fear of running into someone you know when you’re about to get an STI/pregnancy test or pick up your fresh pack of contraception is enough to put anyone off a visit, however, the student health centre is a really convenient way to keep in touch with your sexual health.
- Chlamydia testing
- Pregnancy testing
- Cervical smears
- Emergency contraception
- Contraception such as the pill and condoms.
Whilst their range of services is significantly smaller than the health clinic on Sidwell, the convenience and relaxation of being able to pop in at any time after your lectures is priceless. Similarly to the walk-in clinic, the nurses and the GPs are all very welcoming and helpful, they’re also probably just relieved you’re making use of the services provided by the uni to keep you safe during your time here.
Here is a link to their website providing more information and contact details
Boots is really only useful for the emergency contraception pill and buying condoms. Both of the boots in Exeter (High street and Mount Pleasant) offer the pill and sell condoms, however it’s quite random as to whether you’ll have to pay for it or not. If you can’t be seen by a pharmacist, you’ll usually have to pay around £28 (that’s the equivalent of 14 VKs at Fever, use a contraception next time). Accidents happen, but the emergency contraceptive pill doesn’t stop STI’s and isn’t 100% effective so your best bet is to use contraception like the pill or coil and a condom!
All in all, it’s a big step to be taking control of your sexual health and helping to prevent the spread of STI’s in the UK and educating yourself and others in this massively tabooed topic, so you should be proud of yourself. It’s never too late to start, and you’ll always feel better after you’ve been and regained some of the power over how you look after yourself and the people you’re sleeping with. No judgement, no hassle; sexual health has never been better in the UK and we’re incredibly lucky to have the services we do, GO WILD.