15 - 21 February 2021

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.

Henn Warwick | VP Wellbeing & Diversity


Sexually Transmitted Infections

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

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

Abortion

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.

Pregnancy

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

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.

Inclusivity

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.

Sexual Wellbeing

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.

It's competition time!

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

  1. Make sure you’re following @RHSUWellbeing on Instagram.
  2. Like and share the Let’s Talk About Sex competition post on your story.
  3. Tag three RHUL friends.
  4. BONUS ENTRY - attend the free Sexpression: Imperial Consent Workshop on Thursday 18 February (18:30-19:30).

Good luck!


Events

GP Surgery Patient Participation Group
18th February 11am - noon
Online
The Patient Participation Group is an opportunity for all students registered with the GP Surgery on campus to ask questions and discuss ideas and comments with the GPs directly. This week's focus is on sexual health support.
Sexpression: Imperial Consent Workshop
18th February 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Online
As part of VP Wellbeing & Diversity Henn Warwick's Let's Talk About Sex campaign, join Sexpression: Imperial Chair, Christine Pettitt, to gain a practical understanding of consent and communication with sexual partners.


Latest news

Let's Talk About Female Masturbation

Fri 19 Feb 2021

2nd Year Law student Rachel Harvey opens the door for open and honest discussion, exploring why women masturbate, types of orgasm, how to masturbate, and some great advice on getting started.

 
Being Transgender in Sex

Thu 18 Feb 2021

In a special guest blog for Let's Talk About Sex, Disabled Collective Chair, Nathaniel McShane, discusses his experiences of sex as a transgender person.

 
Sex and Disability: Why the Taboo?

Thu 18 Feb 2021

Disabled Collective member, Alice, talks about her sexual experiences since being diagnosed with a chronic illness and entering into the world of disability.

 
Let's Talk About Emergency Contraception

Wed 17 Feb 2021

Using emergency contraception is nothing to be ashamed of, so why is it so stigmatised? VP Wellbeing & Diversity Henn Warwick goes through the different types of emergency contraception, and how to use them.

 
Let's Talk About Abortion

Tue 16 Feb 2021

As part of her Let's Talk About Sex campaign, VP Wellbeing & Diversity Henn Warwick looks to open up dialogue on abortion, including information on accessing an abortion, methods of abortion, aftercare, and important changes as a result of Covid-19. The article also highlights the danger and illegality of self-induced abortion - reader discretion is advised.

 
Let's Talk About STI Clinics

Mon 15 Feb 2021

Going to a sexual health clinic can sometimes be daunting and you may feel embarrassed, but there is no need. Sexual health services are confidential and non-judgemental, all staff will do their best to make you feel comfortable. Find out all you need to know about STI clinics.

 
Let's Talk About STIs

Mon 15 Feb 2021

With any type of sexual activity, unless flying solo, it's important to know the risks to your sexual health. As part of her Let's Talk About Sex campaign, VP Wellbeing & Diversity Henn Warwick takes it back to basics with STIs, going through the different symptoms, and how they're spread and treated.