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Student life isn’t always as exciting as it’s made out to be: the endless essays, assignments, early mornings and financial worries. However, for most students their time at university will one of the best time of their lives: more freedoms, more free time, new friends, more parties and more sex!


Student sexual health has always been high on the agenda for health professionals and student services across the country. University aged people have more sex and are more likely than any other age group to contract an STI.

The healthy campus team are not here to judge or tell students how to live their lives, but according to a survey around a half of all university students wished they’d had better sex education and three quarters of you look online to find the answers.

Well here it is: the sex education topics you want to know about and you need – online.


Are students all really rampant rabbits?


The Student Beans Sex Survey has been running annually in the UK since 2011 and has produced some interesting statistics over the years.

The 2015 survey suggests 95% of all students have had at least one sexual partner since starting university and that 60% of all students had a one night stand.

23% of students said they were having sex at least 3 times per week.

The average number of sexual partners varies between universities and courses. If you’re interested in finding out more please visit the survey website.

48% of sexually active students report being in relationships. The stereotype of rampant singletons is not quite true!


Outdoor pursuits and sexting shenanigans


The traditional place to have sex is in bed. However the survey suggests that up to a third of students have admitted to having sex in a public place.

Just over a quarter of students surveyed had filmed sexual acts with their partners and 78% of male students had received pictures from their sexual partners.

This all sound rather racy but there are a few things you may wish to think about where the law is concerned: Read this Guide to Safer Sexting.



OUTDOOR SEX: In England and Wales it is not explicitly illegal to have sex in a public place. However, there are several pieces of law which can be breached by having sex in public, notably the Sexual Offences Act and Public Order Act. It can be illegal to show male and female genitals in public. People having sex outside can be found guilty of ‘outraging public decency’, unless they could have expected a reasonable degree or privacy and did everything they could to prevent being seen by others. Bottom line: if you are going to do it, don’t get caught. The penalties can be quite serious!

PHOTOS: The exchange of explicit photos between consenting adults is not a crime in the UK. However sending unsolicited photos or forwarding them on could breach criminal and civil laws. Exchanging any such image with somebody under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.

Remember these laws apply to you in this country only. Laws in other countries may be much stricter with harsher punishments. Careful with those holiday selfies, sex on the beach and ‘nutscaping’…

What students really worry about when they have sex


The most common sexual worry among students about sex is personal performance and body image. The 2015 survey suggests that this is a bigger worry than contracting an STI or getting pregnant.

Feeling comfortable about your body during sex is an important component of enjoying the experience.

Knowing your averages is an important factor helping you to relax and know what’s usual about sex. Both penises and vaginas come in different shapes and sizes: it’s easy to become anxious your own body when it’s not what you’ve seen in pornography. 61% of students report they watch porn and a quarter feel it influences their own sex lives.

GIRLS: Pornography and myths also suggest women always orgasm during intercourse. In many cases women need different types of stimulation. Here is a useful guide from BISH to the female body.

GUYS: The average penis is approximate 5 inches long (12.5cm) when erect. The outer labia is often more visible than in pornographic images. Many guys worry about premature ejaculation. Pornography and urban legend suggest that good sex lasts hours and hours. Not true. Whilst the length of time to orgasm in men varies greatly, the average is somewhere between 2-7 minutes!

Dr Petra Boyton, a sex and relationships expert, discusses the question “How do I know if I’m good in bed?” – a must read for anyone with insecurities or worries about sex.


Condoms are not always on the agenda



Female students are generally more concerned about pregnancy than male students. Despite this worryingly few students are using condoms.

1 in 5 students report that they NEVER use a condom, with 51% of females and 61% of males reporting they have had sex without a condom. Only 1 in 5 students used a condom every time they had sex.

Condoms should always be in the agenda.

If you don’t know how to put one on then there is no time like the present to learn! 

Condoms are your best protection against sexually transmitted infections.
You can get FREE condoms from the Student Union, Sexual Health Sheffield Clinics and University Health Service. Be prepared and always carry condoms in your purse or wallet. If you’ve forgotten to get free condoms, you can always buy them in supermarkets, petrol garages, 24 hour convenience stores, pub toilets, pharmacies etc… There is no excuse not to have some.


So you forgot the condom or it split

If you have had sex without a condom then its time to consider getting an STI check. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV then consider getting anti-HIV prevention medication (PEP). If you’re female, not on regular contraception and have had condomless sex with a man, you might need emergency contraception.

You should try to get PEP and emergency contraception as soon as possible. The sooner you take them the more effective they are.

PEP is available from Sexual Health Sheffield (weekdays) or A&E (weekends only).

Emergency contraception is available free from Sexual Health Sheffield, University Health Service and the NHS Walk-in-Centre. You can also buy it from most pharmacies.

If you want to know more about PEP or emergency contraception, then take a look at the blog we wrote last week “One Night Stand Survival Tips”.


When one partner is not enough…


15% of students reported having had a threesome or group sex. 27% reported that they had cheated on a partner.

Threesomes/Groups: If threesomes or group sex are your thing then there are a few golden rules to keeping it safe and happy:
1 – Everyone should use a barrier (condoms/dams/gloves) – even if you don’t usually with your regular partner.
2 – New act: new barrier – if you’re changing between partners or where you’re having sex (oral/vaginal/anal) then you must use a new condom or dental dam. Try using different colour condoms/dams/gloves for each partner.
3 – If you’ve been stimulating your partners anus or vagina, then clean your hands before touching the next partner.
4 – If you’re using sex toys then only use them on one person. Clean them with hot water and soap afterwards.

5 – Be sure it’s what everybody involved wants. Don’t pressure a partner into group sex and don’t feel pressured by a partner to get involved.


Anal sex is more common than you might think


Anal sex is surprisingly common with almost half of students reporting having tried anal sex.

If you are having or thinking about having anal sex then it is important that you understand what you are doing and make this as safe and comfortable as possible. Get to know your anatomy, take your time and use plenty of lube. Don’t feel pressured into having anal sex. If it’s uncomfortable then stop – you might be causing yourself some damage. NHS Lanarkshire have produced a guide to safer anal sex.

GMFA, the gay mens health charity, also have some excellent resources on anal sex.


Swipe left, swipe right: Meeting partners online


25% of students report they have had sex with somebody they met online. There is a plethora of websites and new smartphone apps which make hooking up with a potential sex partner easier than ever before.

Apps such as Tindr and Grindr have been associated with an epidemic of STI’s. The reasons why aren’t clear. According to a BBC article HIV/AIDS is the second biggest killer worldwide in adolescents after accidents. The report cites online dating and sex app being a contributing factor.

The advice is the same: be safe and use a condom!


The Fifty Shades of Grey effect


The book Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be inspiring increasing numbers of students to try BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism) – 17% in 2014, increasing 26% in 2015. Kinky!

This is all ok, provided it is consensual. The University of Sheffield Students Union runs sexual consent workshops.

If you’re using sex toys remember to clean then with warm water and soap afterwards.

Sense about Sex has an interesting article about the kinkier side of sex and how to keep this safe and enjoyable.


Getting a sexual health check up


Only 1 in 5 students says they are getting an annual sex health check up. 35% of sexually active students say they have never been tested for STI’s. The student age group is at the highest risk of catching an STI.

Most people who have an STI do not get symptoms.

Many students cited in the survey that they were too embarrassed (54%) or didn’t know where to go (53%) for a sexual health check up.

Uni health service and Sexual Health Sheffield can provide FREE and CONFIDENTIAL testing for STI’s.

There are lots of myths about sexual health clinics. The staff are not there to judge you or to embarrass you. Remember they spend their entire professional lives dealing with the most sensitive and bizarre of issues. In most cases your STI check up will involve an examination, a urine sample and a blood test. Guys: there are no cocktail umbrellas! If you have an STI your treatment will be free and the clinic can contact your past partners for you to protect your anonymity. 

To find out more about sexual health services in Sheffield visit the University Health Service smartphone app or Sexual Health Services Sheffield website.

If you really don’t want to go to a clinic then you can get free chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening kits online.


So you got an STI – you’re not alone

In 2015 11% of students reported that they had been diagnosed with an STI. There has been an increase in the rates of students in Sheffield being diagnosed with syphilis and gonorrhoea in 2015. 

Figures from the Department of Health suggest that there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of many sexually transmitted illnesses in young adults. The impact of STI’s remains greatest in young heterosexuals under the age of 25, and in men who have sex with men of all ages.

The most commonly diagnosed STI is chlamydia with almost half a million cases in 2014 in England. Around 1 in 10 people aged 16-25 have chlamydia. That’s as common as a cold!

Syhphilis has shown the highest increase in the rate of diagnosis – an increase of 33% on the previous year. Gonorrhoea cases are also increased by 15%.

Remember these STI’s can affect the penis, vagina, anus and throat!

If you want to know more about STI’s you can find out more from the FPA Website.


And finally…

Sex should be always be consensual and enjoyable: 62% of students report being satisfied with their sex lives.

For some 30% of students it was so enjoyable they’ve missed at least one lecture because they were having sex…

Be safe and enjoy.


Twitter Chat

Join us on Tuesday 15th December 2015 at 12:30pm
for our next Twitter Chat on sexual health and alcohol.

This is your chance to ask the questions you want answers to!




Data Sources:

The Guardian 19/6/2015, 20/5/2014

Hexjam 2015 Student Sex Survey

Department of Health Infection Report Volume 9, No 22 – 23/6/2015

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