For many, sex can be a very enjoyable experience. For others, it can be unfamiliar and anxious. However, the most important thing is to not to be afraid to be informed. So here are things you should know, starting with some myths.
Myth: You can't get pregnant if a man withdraws before he comes.
This is false: This is absolutely not true. Before a man ejaculates, he releases fluid from his penis. This fluid contains sperm and can very easily result in pregnancy. About 1 in 5 people who use the pull out method get pregnant. Men are also VERY unreliable when it comes to pulling out in time!
Myth: You can get pregnant by having oral sex.
This is false: Even if you swallow semen (sperm), you still cannot get pregnant from oral sex.
Myth: You can't get pregnant during your period.
This is false: No matter what your cycle length, you can get pregnant during your period. Sperm can live for up to seven days, so if you ovulate (release an egg) the week after your period, you can get pregnant. It is not safe to have sex during your period unless you are using some form of contraception.
Myth: There are certain sexual positions that will protect you from pregnancy.
This is false: Again, all it takes is one egg and one sperm to make you pregnant. It doesn't matter whether you have sex standing up, sitting down or lying down. It also doesn't matter if you have sex in the shower or wash straight afterwards. The reality is that you can pregnant anywhere, any time and in any position.
Myth: A man's testicles will be damaged if he doesn't have sex when he is turned on or if he hasn't had sex in a long time.
This is false: A man will not be harmed in any physical way if he doesn't have sex.
Myth: Condoms can be washed out and re-used.
This is false: Condoms are only effective if they are used once. The friction (movement) of sex weakens the condom and so it will break if you re-use it. If you are strapped for cash and are over the age of consent, you may be able to get cheap or free condoms at places like the Red Ribbon Project, Dublin Aids Alliance, a STI clinic, or your Student's Union.
Myth: You will always have symptoms if you have an STI.
This is false: Not all STIs present with symptoms. Many STIs have no symptoms or are symptom free until the STI has caused significant health issues. Therefore, it is vital that you always practice safe sex and that you get regular check-ups. Check out our guide to getting tested here.
Myth: You can use plastic bags or cling film instead of condoms.
This is false: Never ever, use something like a plastic bag or cling film instead of a condom. Only condoms protect you from STIs and pregnancy. They are specially designed to catch the sperm and keep you safe from infection.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.
Let's talk about Consent:
When you come to University you will hear an awful lot about sex! Probably more than you have ever heard before. You might feel like you are expected to be having sex left, right and centre. Let me be absolutely clear: you are not! If you want to have sex that is totally fine. Just be safe. Use contraception! The SU makes free condoms available to students. Get regular STI checks- the University Health Centre provides them. It’s not embarrassing or scary, it’s simply responsible.
If you don’t want to have sex, that is also totally cool! It can be scary, confusing and daunting. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are not the only person not having sex! Sex is a big step and you should be sure that you are ready and that it’s with the right person. Don’t rush or feel pressured into anything, please. This is vitally important to remember.
Regardless of who you are or your attitude towards sex, I cannot emphasise how important and mandatory consent is!
Being in a relationship is not consent. “We’ve had sex before” is not consent. Consent to one act is not consent to all acts. If they aren’t sober, they cannot consent. The absence of “no” is not consent. Flirting is not consent. Silence is not consent. If you have to convince them, it’s not consent. If they don’t feel free to say “no”, it’s not consent.
Only an enthusiastic, informed, sober, freely-given, ongoing “Yes!” is consent! It might seem daunting, but if you are a person willing to have sex it is absolutely your responsibility to ask. It doesn’t matter who you are. ASK FOR CONSENT!