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National Contraception Week

How Sweet

St. Valentine’s Day is long gone and this may prompt the idea that we can once again become lazy about contraception and safer sex, however safer sex should never be forgotten and there’s no excuse it should be when National Condom Week (14th Feb) and National Contraception Week (8th March) begin!

These are both national campaigns introduced in 1997 to make young people in particular aware of the contraception and safer sex choices that are available to them.

According to the FPA (Family Planning Association) choosing contraception, and the right kind for that matter not only increases the possibility of you or your partner not getting pregnant but increases the general pleasure of sex; this can and hopefully will increase general sexual confidence. However, on a serious note 1/3 of women spend on average only 5 minutes choosing a form of contraception yet almost half (47%) of these women have had a pregnancy scare.

For women there is usually at least 9 forms of contraception on offer at your local FPA ranging from The Patch and most common with women The Pill, pretty straight forward; daily forms of contraception and they release the hormones into the blood stream which prevents you getting pregnant, to the injection; lasting up to three months, the implant lasting up to three years, to the coil or IUD lasting 5 to 10 years.

Boys, don’t be fooled contraception is not only the woman’s choice, if you are with a partner your choice of contraception should be chosen together and a form that suits you both. Condoms in particular are something that should be mutually discussed and regularly used; there are so many choices out there ranging in colour, texture, size, material (latex or polyurethane), brand, flavour and believe it or not ‘strength’. Some of these have spermicide applied to the condom already for increased protection against pregnancy and lubrication, however there are many forms of lubrication can be used if the condom doesn’t have this already applied, also ranging in flavour and sensitivity. Condoms and lubrication can be picked up free of charge at Genito-Urinary Clinics (GUs), FPAs, C-card vendors and Terrence Higgins Trust free of charge.

We all know students have sex, some more than others may I add, most of the time we can’t (or would rather not) remember it, most of the time we’re drunk and you couldn’t possibly pass the chance by, but either way safer sex, condoms and hopefully contraception need to be thought about, and we all know it can be more difficult and unsexy than we want it to be, especially when you haven’t thought about it in advance so I’m offering easier, quicker and (most importantly for students) free options to access condoms and contraception.

Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis are all words that make even the bravest people want to bury their head in the sand and attract the oddest, most disgusted reactions (and I know, I’ve witnessed it firsthand!) but they are all STIs that are on the increase among young people (16-24). When a recent screening session took place across Nottingham in February it revealed that one in eight young people had Chlamydia, this is higher than the national average of about one in nine. A handful of these young people unfortunately also had Gonorrhea and with all those not so memorable nights and lack of safer sex who knows who what you’re picking up. Pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies at that have recently started to fall by about 4% however this is nowhere near the target the U.K Government wanted. £20 million was put into the teenage pregnancy strategy and in Oldham, Manchester where more emphasis was put on contraception choices unplanned pregnancy rates fell by 29%. However, 50% of unplanned pregnancies still end in abortion. This highlights the need for better contraception choices, if however you are not in a position to want to make a commitment to a form of contraception at least use a condom, and use them effectively!

Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and local NHS organisations are visiting many places across Nottingham including Trent Uni, Walkabout and Liquid to try and get students to take up the opportunity to have a free, quick and simple Chlamydia test. THT will be visiting Sandby Halls 18th and Peverell Halls 19th March.

For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Sexualhealthtopics/Pages/Sexual-health-hub.aspx.

Alternatively there is the clinic at Glasshouse Street, a drop-in clinic Wednesday night’s 4-7pm at the THT Offices, 23 Barker Gate which offers STIs screening. Visit www.tht.org.uk for more information. The local student’s clinic and Boots now also offer STI testing.

Gemma Robertson

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