Sexual Health

Sex is a completely natural practice and is something that can form a healthy lifestyle. Be vigilant when having sex and always use contraception. Familiarise yourself with this content as it is very important to know.

Keep a look out for various safe sex campaigns run by the students union including the World Contraception Day and SHAG Week and get FREE condoms at the Student Union office on campus, anytime of the year.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Safer sex is not just about preventing pregnancy. STIs are on the increase in Ireland – the number has doubled in the last five years. Lots of people don’t know much about STIs, or think that they happen to ‘other’ people’. Below contains a list of the STI’s and their symptoms and treatments.

STIs are common and anyone, male or female, can get an STI – including HIV. Lots of STIs have no symptoms so you can’t tell by looking at someone if they have one. The majority of STIs are treatable if identified early but some can seriously affect your health and others, like HIV, have no cure.

Contraception protects against pregnancy, but only two methods can help protect against STIs and HIV as well. These are:

  • The male condom
  • The female condom

To be safer use double protection: your normal contraceptive method plus a male or a female condom. Always choose a quality condom with a Kite or CE mark. Get FREE condoms at the Student Union office on campus. Remember sex with a condom is not absolutely safe it is only safer.

If you are worried about a sexually transmitted infection get it checked out as soon as possible. (An unusual discharge, sore, rash or bump are some symptoms, but remember – some infections have no symptoms.) You can get advice from your GP, the college nurse, a family planning clinic or a genitourinary medicine clinic. You can also call the confidential Drugs/HIV helpline at 1800 459 459.

Most STI treatments are simple and painless and you do not have to be admitted to hospital. Treatment in a sexually transmitted infection clinic is confidential, non-judgmental and free.

STIs Dos and Don’ts

Dos

  • Do carry a condom and always use it properly
  • Do follow the instructions on the condom and practice putting them on
  • Do think twice about having sex when drunk or taking drugs
  • Do look out for any unusual discharge, sores, rash or bump and go to a doctor or STI clinic if you are worried

Don’ts

  • Don’t have unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex
  • Don’t be embarrassed to talk about safer sex
  • Don’t rely on your partner to carry condoms
  • Don’t be embarrassed to get tested for STIs

Contraception

If you are sexually active then it is essential that you are aware of the responsibilities and the dangers that come with it. Sex should be taken very seriously and should not be entered into without proper protection or forethought.

There are more dangers to having sex than just un-wanted pregnancy – there are a host of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) and side effects that often arise after promiscuous or spontaneous sexual activity.

If you are engaging in sexual activity you must be aware of the contraception methods available to you and learn what is best or best suits you!

80 – 90% of women that engage in unprotected sex get pregnant!

A woman can still get pregnant even if:

  • If a man pulls out of her vagina before he ‘comes’
  • If she has sex when she has a period
  • If she is breastfeeding
  • If it is the first time someone has sex
  • If she does not have an orgasm
  • If she douches (squirts water or other liquid into her vagina) or washes after sex
  • In whatever position the couple has sex

The simple fact is that if you do not wish to get pregnant then you must you some form of contraception. A list of contraception methods is available below detailing how it works and its effectiveness, as students of Dundalk IT we urge you to familiarise yourself with this table select a contraceptive method that best suits you and use this method if you are to be sexually active.

Emergency Contraception

Fact: In a recent CPA survey only a third of respondents knew the correct time limit for using emergency contraception. Almost half of those surveyed underestimated the time limit.

What to do if your contraception fails

If you have had sex without using contraception or if you think your method might have failed (e.g. burst condom or forgotten pill) you can use emergency contraception. This will usually stop you becoming pregnant. A tablet containing a progestogen hormone (levonorgestrel -Levonelle®) is most commonly used. The second option is to have a copper coil (IUCD) fitted. Emergency contraception can be obtained through your GP, local doctor or a sexual health (family-planning) clinic.

When can you use it?

It can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but it’s best to take it as soon as possible after having ‘risky’ or unprotected sex. The coil can be fitted up to five days after unprotected sex and it must be fitted by a trained doctor.

How effective is this method?

The emergency contraceptive tablet is very effective. The failure rate is between 1 and 3%. It is more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex. The failure rate for the coil insertion is lower (less than 1%).

How does it work?

The tablet may stop or delay an egg being released (ovulation). Or it may stop a fertilised egg settling in your womb (implantation). Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion. Abortion can only take place after a fertilised egg has implanted in the womb. People who believe that life begins when the egg is fertilised may not wish to use this method.

Are there side effects?

  1. Some women may feel sick after taking emergency contraception but vomiting is extremely rare. If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the tablet you should consult your doctor, as the dose may need to be repeated.
  2. The tablet can also alter your menstrual cycle. You may have some irregular bleeding after taking emergency contraception. This is not harmful.
  3. Your next period may arrive a little early or a little late. If your period is more than 10 days late, you should consult your doctor because of the risk that you might be pregnant. If emergency contraception fails and you find yourself pregnant, there is no proof that it causes any harm to the developing baby.
  4. There are other potential complications in having a coil (IUCD) inserted and your doctor will discuss them with you.

Who is suitable?

Emergency contraception is suitable for most women. If you have any medical condition or are on medications your doctor will be able to advise you.

How often can it be taken?

Emergency contraception should only be used in an emergency. It is not suitable for regular use as other methods are more reliable over time. There are many forms of contraception you can use regularly and you should seek advice from your doctor on a method that would be suitable for you.

What do you do next?

If you were already taking the contraceptive pill you can restart taking it the day after taking emergency contraception. You should also do a pregnancy test at the end of your packet. You can still get pregnant after using emergency contraception if you have further episodes of unprotected sex before your next period.

What other issues should you consider?

Remember that having unprotected sex puts you at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. You can discuss the risks of infection and the need for tests with your doctor. This is also a good time to discuss your future contraception. There are many different options and your doctor can help you choose a method to suit you and your partner.