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Sexual Health

Coming to university is an exciting new experience and is a time to embrace new opportunities and enjoy new relationships.

Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to your sexuality and relationships. Often it's something that people feel they shouldn't talk about, but this can lead to sexual health being avoided or neglected.  

Whilst you are at university it is important to take control of your own sexual health and you can do this by being aware of the facts on sexual health and knowing where you can go for resources and support.

Contraception allows you to choose when and if you would like a baby. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protects you against catching or passing on an STI. There are many different types of contraception and the most important thing is to make sure it suits you and your lifestyle.

Where can I get contraception?

All services which provide advice and information around contraception are confidential. You can get free contraception at any of the places listed below.

  • Most GP surgeries (sometimes only limited types of contraceptive available)
  • Contraception Clinics in the community
  • Sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services)
  • Health Hub (Condom distribution only)
  • Please click here to find your nearest service.

How much does it cost?

All contraceptive services in the UK are free if accessed at one of the places listed above.

What type of contraception is best for me?

It is important when considering new contraceptive methods that you take into account your lifestyle and what you think will suit you best rather than what others have suggested or recommended.

Check out the Brook “My Contraception tool” to see what’s best for you.

What are the different types of contraception?

There are many types of contraception which will suit different people for different reasons. Please use the links below for full guides to types of contraception. 

Brook – Types of Contraception

FPA – Guides

How do I get emergency contraception?

Emergency Contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy up to five days after sex. It can be used if your usual contraceptive method fails. The most common form of emergency contraception is the emergency contraceptive pill.

To find out more about emergency contraception, please click here.  

You can get the emergency contraceptive pill, for free, at the places listed below:

An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) is a bacterial or viral infection which can be spread through sexual contact (not just unprotected sex). STIs can affect anyone and many of them are on the increase.

How will I know if I have an STI?

The best way to know if you have an infection is to get screened. Whilst some STIs have symptoms that you may notice, others have no symptoms at all or symptoms that show up months or years after unprotected sex with an infected partner. If you are sexually active it is recommended that you get tested  once  a  year. If you have had or expecting to have unprotected sex with a new partner it is best to get tested as soon as possible.

Where can I get screened?

The best place to get tested is at a Sexual Health Clinic. Most clinics run drop-in sessions but if you call ahead you may also be able to book an appointment at a time which suits you. Click here to find your nearest sexual health clinic.

Getting screened is quick and easy.  View the video below to see what happens when you visit a sexual health clinic.

Alternatively, if you live in Greater Manchester you can request a testing kit for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV to be posted to your home by following this link:

How do I avoid getting an STI?

The best way to avoid STIs is to use a condom every time you have sex. If you are using other contraception to avoid pregnancy it is still a good idea to use a condom as this is the most effective way to avoid STIs.

What are the types of STIs?

Click on the links to find out more about the different STIs, including symptoms and treatments.

Brook – Types of STIs

NHS – Live Well – STIs

I think I have an STI - what do I do?

The best thing to do if you think you may have an STI is to get tested. This will put your mind at rest, allow you to get treated should you have an STI and allow you to get advice on how to avoid the situation again. 

Click here to find your nearest sexual health clinic.

If left untreated, STIs can cause health problems later in life so it is best to find out that you have an STI as soon as possible and get treated.

What should I do if I think I am pregnant?

If you think you may be pregnant, the best thing to do is get a test as soon as you can. You can free tests at local family planning/sexual health clinics or you can buy them from supermarkets and pharmacies. If you feel anxious and like you will want to talk this through with someone then you could do this at a clinic. Click here to find your nearest clinic

I’m pregnant and unsure what to do

Exploring your options once you have found out that you are pregnant can be daunting. You can talk to someone at Ask Brook on 0808 802 1234 for free and confidential information. 

Brook also have a wealth of information on their own site.

How do I look after my health during my pregnancy?

“A healthy diet is very important if you're pregnant or are planning to have a baby. The best diet is one with a variety of different foods, but take care with certain foods because they can be harmful (see the link below). You also need to be careful with alcohol, medicines and drugs, so check with your doctor before taking any of these. If you smoke, it’s important to stop as soon as possible.

Keeping active during pregnancy is also a good idea, as it will help you to adapt to your changing shape by strengthening muscles so that you can carry the extra weight of pregnancy. Keeping active will also help to prepare you for the birth by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain during pregnancy and childbirth.” NHS LiveWell 2011

It is important to consult your GP or midwife before undertaking an exercise which is out of the ordinary for you.

Below are links to more information about your health during pregnancy:

Harmful Foods during pregnancy
Exercise in Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Work

What about my studies while I am pregnant?

If you find out you are pregnant whilst studying and have any concerns, the best place to start is to talk to your personal tutor. They will be able to advise you about how it may affect your course.

You can also speak to someone in Student Experience & Support on 0161 295 0023 regarding any queries you have with funding, benefits or general concerns.