Exploring your sexuality is all part and parcel of student life. If you’re doing it sensibly though, you’re better equipped to avoid any hazards. As you get to know more about this important aspect of your life, bear these things in mind:
The choice is yours
This is the most important thing to remember. Don’t allow anyone to pressurise you into having sex before you’re ready, and don’t put yourself in situations where you might not be able to exercise that choice. Without consent from both parties, it’s rape, which is a crime (see here for how to deal with this).
Remember that you have as much say in how it goes down as your sexual partner. If you’re not completely happy, rather say no.
If you’re not planning for a pregnancy, use contraception. There are many types available, ranging from the pill, a diaphragm or injections for women to condoms for men.
They’re all useless though if you don’t use them correctly. Decide what kind of contraception works for you, and then get informed about how to use it.
Some STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are merely uncomfortable, while others like chlamydia, which often doesn’t even show symptoms, can have more serious consequences like infertility if left untreated. Add the high risk (especially in South Africa) of contracting HIV and it’s a no-brainer to use a condom, even if the woman is using some other form of contraception too.
Get a buddy
Bear in mind that if you’ve been drinking or using any kind of drugs, you may not be in a state to make good choices for yourself. Set up a buddy system with some friends, where you look after each other in those situations.
What to do if you’ve had unprotected sex
If you’re a woman, it’s best to visit your local clinic immediately to get the morning-after pill. Both partners should also get tested for STDs, a couple of weeks later; and HIV, a few months later.
As sexually transmitted diseases don’t show up immediately you need to remember to go back to your clinic for testing at a later stage – it’s better to know than suffer silently.
You can get a wealth of information and counselling, should you need it, from clinic staff members who deal with this subject every day. Whether you’re planning to be sexually active or not, it’s well worth paying them a visit.