Being away from home, at university and in a new country means a lot of new people, and a lot of new situations. It’s an important time to think about whether you’re going to have sex, what kind of sex you’d like to have, and how you’re going to look after your sexual and emotional health.
Starting the conversation
Whether it’s with a partner, your parents, your friends or even a doctor, talking about sex isn’t always easy. But feeling confident in how you communicate is a really important part of having a healthy sex life.
Before you can talk about sex, it’s important to know what you want for yourself. There are lots of places in Australia that you can go to for advice, contraceptives and counselling. A good place to start is seeing a GP, or general practitioner. This is a doctor who works in a local medical practice, and there will probably be a GP working at your campus.
Talking to your doctor
During your appointment with your GP, you can raise any issues that you want to talk about, including how you’re feeling about sex, any physical or emotional worries that you may have, information that you need to make healthy decisions around sex, and other things that may be on your mind, like fertility or your sexual orientation. You will probably have the option to see a male or female GP, and if you’re more comfortable talking to one over the other, it’s fine to let the clinic know when you make an appointment.
Talking to your partner
Once you’ve spoken with your doctor, it’s important to speak with your partner, and it’s a good idea to do this well before you’re thinking about having sex. When you talk to your partner, it’s important to make sure you talk about what you want, what you like, any STIs that either of you might be carrying, and the forms of contraception you want to use.
All about STIs
It doesn’t matter whether you’re having oral, anal or vaginal sex, you’re still at risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This name refers to a large range of common infections, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites . STIs are sneaky and they don’t always have symptoms. When you want to have sex with a new partner, it’s important to have an STI check first . And it’s totally fine to ask them to have an STI check too.
If you find that you have an STI, it’s important that you let your previous partners know so that they can be tested. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially if you had a bad break up, but it’s really important to let them know so that you can prevent an STI spreading further. Most STIs can be treated by your doctor, but some like genital herpes or warts, will require lifelong management.
If getting pregnant is a risk for you and your partner, this is a conversation you need to have. There are a range of options that you and your partner can use to prevent pregnancy. Not all of these methods will give you protection from STIs, which is something you should talk through with your GP.
Some, like condoms, you will be able to buy over the counter from a pharmacy, for others you will need to get a prescription from your doctor . Methods like the contraceptive pill won’t be immediately effective so you’ll need to plan around this.