It’s time to talk about the birds and the bees... Well, not quite but we are going to talk about a whole host of great organisations where you can get free contraception, STI tests, support, and family planning.
Good sexual health is important for everyone and it’s important to remember that contraception focuses on your anatomy, not your gender identity. When it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), the only contraception to help protect against them is a condom.
We’re all familiar with an external condom. Lubed up piece of rubber, worn on a penis, that can protect you against pregnancy and STI’s. You can buy them at the supermarket or pick some up for free from your local sexual health clinic or your friendly Students’ Union (you bet we have free condoms for you!)
But there’s more than one way to get down and dirty.
There are alternatives to condoms which include:
- The combined pill
- The mini pill
Whereas a condom needs no preparation, is easy to carry around, and helps protect against STI’s, these alternatives are either long-lasting forms of contraception or need a little time to kick in a be fully effective and only help protect against pregnancy– bonus though, they’re all free on the NHS.
If you are taking testosterone, your pregnancy risk is reduced but not gone, so it still important to use a method of contraception.
You can find out more about contraceptives on the SH24 website, here. If you’re looking for an alternative to condoms, we recommend you talk to your GP or visit your local sexual health clinic.
Sometimes we get a little caught up in the heat of the moment and forget to put the condom on properly, you can access emergency contraception for free from your GP or local sexual health clinic and even some pharmacies. You can also buy emergency contraception from most pharmacies if you can’t get to a GP or sexual health clinic in time.
See what the NHS website says about emergency contraception, here.
Whilst most contraception is framed around not getting pregnant, it’s a common misconception that gay, lesbian and bisexual partners don’t need them. Well, that’s not true. If you or your partner don’t have a uterus, you’re not likely to get pregnant but there is still a risk of STI’s and these can be transmitted no matter what your sexual orientation or gender identity.
We want everyone to have a safe time between the sheets so it’s important to know what contraception is best for your individual circumstances. Whether you’re a woman having sex with other women or a man having sex with other men, you gotta stay protected. The NHS cover some important tips for both lesbian and gay sex.
Terrence Higgins have a great resource of sexual health for Trans and non-binary people which covers safe and healthy sex for everyone involved.
The LGBT Foundation have created guides for anal, oral, and vaginal sex which have something for everyone whether you’re gay, lesbian, cis, or trans. You can read them here.
It stings when I pee
So fun fact, not all STI’s show symptoms which is why it’s so important for you to get tested regularly. When we say regularly, we mean before and after each new sexual partner and even if you are in a long-term monogamous relationship you should still get tested every now and then.
There are some common STI symptoms though such as itching, soreness, redness, a burn when you pee and even lumps and bumps. But the only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested!
Use the NHS postcode checker to find a sexual health service near you that offers STI testing. Use the poscode checker here.
If you live in High Wycombe you can get a home test kit from Terrence Higgins or visit their outreach centre for a full STI screening. Find out more about the outreach service on their website.
Terrence Higgins also offers home test kits for those in Aylesbury.
If you are an Uxbridge local, you can order a home testing kit from SH:24. Order a kit from SH:24 here.
Whether you’re after more information or need somewhere to go for contraception, unplanned pregnancy, or STI testing, visit this NHS page which will help you find the closest clinic to you for support - https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/sexual-health
KISS in Uxbridge for young people between 13-19 - https://www.nhs.uk/services/service-directory/kiss-keep-it-safe-n-sorted/N10506666