What if you were reading this article… in an email? Sign up to the VICE Australia newsletter Depending on which university you're at, you've either just finished O Week or are still very much knees deep in nightly Ring of Fire throw-ups and having the exact same conversations about your A-Levels with everyone you meet. You also may have had sex, as that tends to happen to some people when 10,000 18-year-olds get drunk constantly together for two weeks.
Being 18, a lot of people still have a lot to learn about how to do that sex. They have questions about it. Questions that we asked them for and then had answered by a sex education expert, Esther Hardy.
1) Am I protected on the seven-day break between taking my pill?
Esther Hardy: That would depend on which pill you are on and how you are taking it, and it will be quite individual to each person. If you are taking your pill correctly with no unusual side effects and have a seven-day break as part of your pill, then you would be protected in that break. It's not quite as simple as a yes/no, so do your research, as it depends on each person.
2) How frequently should I get an STI check up?
Any new partner! But if you're really going for it every night of O Week, you can't go every day, because sometimes it takes a while for infections to show up. Normally it would be with every new partner, but certainly if you consider yourself at risk, either through symptoms or rumours about your previous sexual partner, get yourself tested! The current recommendations are that every young person should be tested at least once a year… but then again I know people that go every six to eight weeks, or more frequently. Even if you're with the same partner, you should still get checked once a year… a little date night for you and your partner!
3) Can I still get an STI with a condom?
Yes. It depends what STI you are thinking of. So, it will really reduce your chances of catching things like chlamydia, syphilis or gonorrhoea, but anything where there is skin-on-skin contact, stuff like genital warts, genital herpes and pubic lice can still occur. Even if you're using the condom to stop fluids from transferring from one person to another, you still have that close contact around that area. So yeah, it reduces the risk, but can't completely protect you. Still, it is definitely, definitely worth it to always use a condom.
4) What do you actually do with lube? I know it's "vital", but I don't understand what to do with it.
Read the instructions! Different lubes, depending what they are made of – whether its silicon-based, oil-based or water-based – changes what you can use them with, whether that be latex condoms or polyurethane condoms. Quite often people like to put a little drop just into the condom to make that feel more pleasurable for the person wearing the condom, or just around the vulva area or near the entrance to the vagina. Again, check the instructions on the box.
5) How can you last longer, as a boy?
The average time for a man to ejaculate once sex has started is three to five minutes, and that's based on really good research. So the fact that boys think they should be lasting for 40 minutes is absolutely ludicrous, and – no surprise – this expectation comes from porn. What porn doesn't show is that they stop and edit the film, and the poor guy has to go and neck some viagra to keep it up… and probably drinking less alcohol also helps.
6) Is a condom all you need for protection?
Having condoms in your bag is always essential, because you are reducing – not taking away completely, but reducing – the risk of any unwanted disease or outcome.
7) Is HIV transmitted through saliva?
No. You would need about a bucket load. But if a penis is going into a male or female's mouth without a condom, and that penis has HIV, there is a chance of it being passed on that way. If there is an open wound in the mouth or anything like that, the HIV can be transmitted. So it's not saliva, but can be passed orally, as HIV is usually passed through the bloodstream.
8) What do you do if you wake up after a one-night stand and you can't remember if you used a condom or not?
If a friend came to me with that dilemma I would immediately turn to the internet. Look up your nearest sexual health or GUM clinics, or go onto the Brook, FPA or BASHH website. Find out where your nearest clinic is and contact them, tell them what's happened and ask what to do immediately. It's important to get checked and get help reasonably swiftly.
9) I had drunken sex during O Week and couldn't get it up. Are there any ways to improve my performance next time I pull on a night out?
Avoid alcohol! It's called "Brewer's Droop" and is known to stop the blood flow to the penis so that the erection doesn't occur, and deadens the senses in the brain to create the reaction. So yeah, alcohol has a massive effect on how easy it is for a guy to have and sustain an erection. Stay away from Viagra.
10) How much is the pill?
The pill usually costs between $10 and $50 depending on which you get. Uni students should be getting information about their nearest sexual health clinics and, if not, you should pressure your uni into being more vocal about it. Get affiliated with your nearest clinic!
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