Henn Warwick - Vice President Wellbeing & Diversity
Let's Talk About Sex is focused on promoting safe sex and sexual health awareness. The aim of this campaign is to break down barriers to sexual health such as the social stigma that flows from it, highlight the sexual health services available to students, and to challenge the heteronormative notion of sex education. Sex is a natural part of life, it should be fun, safe and pleasurable. Whether you have had sex before, or you aren't ready yet, the Let's Talk About Sex campaign will have something for you. We're going back to basics, and you may be surprised at what you don't know! This week is jam-packed full of crucial information, including a consent workshop run by Sexpression: Imperial. Check out the week-long blog series for information on protecting your sexual health, as well as the fun Instagram campaign (@RHSUWellbeing) where you can enter the competition to be in with a chance of winning a £40 Ann Summers / Lovehoney voucher.
An STI is an infection that can be passed from one person to another, usually through sexual contact such as unprotected vaginal, anal, oral sex, or even by sharing sex toys. Sometimes STIs can be transmitted in other ways too such as blood transfusion, during pregnancy or childbirth, and by sharing needles. Some STIs are completely curable usually with antibiotics or insecticide cream, whereas others such as genital herpes and HIV are manageable and treatable but will remain in your body.
It is entirely possible to contract an STI and be completely unaware as STIs don't always cause symptoms.
For this reason, it is super important to get tested regularly to protect your sexual health, and others. Regular tests will ensure you are able to have an open, honest and accurate conversation with your sexual partner about the risk of STIs.
For the best protection against STIs use a latex or polyurethane (internal & external) condoms and dental dams every time you engage in sexual activities.
Find out more here about symptoms, treatment and how to protect yourself.
Read here about what to expect when you visit a sexual health Clinic.
Can I test myself at home?
Absolutely! Click here for a step-by-step guide.
Order a home STI kit
Contraception helps to protect against pregnancy. In the UK there are 15 methods of contraception available, which are all free to access on the NHS. You can access contraception from your GP or sexual health clinic.
Which method of contraception you choose is entirely personal, it’s worth taking time to find out more about each method to decide which suits you best.
Some contraceptives are long-term methods meaning you don’t need to remember to take or use them, these are called Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), others are short-term meaning you must remember to take them daily or use them every time you have sex, these are called Short-acting Contraception (SAC).
Barrier contraceptives are the only way to helps protect you from STIs are latex or polyurethane internal/external condoms and dental dams.
Read here for more information on methods of emergency contraception.
Want a quick overview of contraceptive methods? Download the Contraceptive Choices at a Glance Chart by FPA and Sexwise.
Download the chart
An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy so that it doesn't result in the birth of a child. Sometimes, it is also known as a termination of pregnancy.
A pregnancy is ended by either taking medicines or having a surgical procedure. Contrary to common understanding - abortion is still technically, a criminal offence in the UK under the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861. However, The Abortion Act 1967, provides a defence to a criminal charge so long as it meets one of the specified grounds.
Abortions can only be carried out under the care of an NHS hospital or a licensed clinic, and are usually available free of charge on the NHS.
The final decision to terminate or continue with a pregnancy lies only with the pregnant person and no one else.
Read more about abortion here.
Finding out that you are pregnant whilst studying at university can be a daunting prospect and even feel impossible, but being pregnant should not be a barrier for succeeding in or completing your degree at RHUL.
The University has support services in place to ensure pregnant students are supported and know all of their options for deferring their studies or making special arrangements in relation to deadlines and examinations.
A pregnant student will not be treated unfavourably, the University will seek to make sure arrangements are in place so that pregnant students are not disadvantaged in any way.
Consent is an agreement between people to engage in sexual activity. It should be clearly and freely communicated from someone who has capacity - meaning they must be aware of their actions.
Consent isn’t solely verbal. Someone may tell you they do or don’t consent through their body language. If they pull away, seem tense, nervous or frightened, stop kissing you, or anything else that signals they are uncomfortable, these could be signs of non-consent.
Consent is required for every time and every type of activity. If you have had sex with someone before, that does not mean consent is implied for sex again. Understanding consent is crucial to engaging in happy and safe sexual relationships. It’s really important to discuss boundaries and expectations with a sexual partner prior to engaging in any sexual behaviour.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time, whether you have started undressing or are fully engaged in sexual activity you have the right to say no and stop.
Find out more at the Sexpression: Imperial Consent Workshop and watch the video from Thames Valley Police for a different take on how to understand consent.
Join the event
Watch the video
Inclusive sex means a change both in thinking and in language to ensure everyone’s sexual health is protected and everyone feels comfortable.
Sex education content is commonly dominated by straight, able, cisgender people, and this ignores a massive portion of the student population.
Sex education should be inclusive and comprehensive, providing everyone with an equal opportunity of creating and navigating safe sex and pleasurable experiences.
Let’s Talk About Sex challenges the heteronormative, cis-normative, and able-normative assumptions and celebrates inclusive sex.
Read about disability and sex here.
Read about being transgender and sex here.
Let’s face it, sex can be many things – passionate, intimate, fun, pleasurable, good exercise. It can also be boring, painful, awkward, or leave you wondering why you even bothered shaving or getting that wax!
Finding out what you like can take time, but the best place to start is with yourself. Exploring sexual pleasure and finding out what gets you off is nothing to be ashamed of and actually has a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
But sometimes things don’t always go exactly to plan, and you may find yourself worrying about finishing too quick or not finishing at all, not being in the mood or not self-lubricating - these sexual problems may not be the easiest to talk about, but these issues are common and are nothing to be ashamed of.
Check out this blog on female masturbation.
Everyone, regardless of ability, gender or sexuality should be able to enjoy sex whether that’s flying solo, with a partner or with multiple partners. This week, one lucky RHUL student will win a £40 voucher of their choice for Ann Summers or Lovehoney.
Let’s face it, lockdown has been rather…frustrating... if you catch my drift. Why not explore some fun and exciting self-pleasure through the use of sex toys?
Sex toys not really your thing? That’s completely fine too and doesn’t mean you should miss the chance to enter! There are so many other sexy and exciting products to choose from including lingerie, bath bombs, candles, body sprays etc. Also, don’t forget as students you get a further 15% and 20% off at the selected retailers.
How to enter
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX