So it’s Fresher’s Week, you’re possibly living out of home for the first time and meeting tonnes of new people. There’s no parents around so it’s natural that sparks will fly, with that in mind here’s a handy guide to make sure those sparks don’t turn into an uncontrollable forest fire.
So you’ve managed to talk someone into coming home with you. The next step is to make sure that all parties have a good time regardless of whether you kiss, cuddle or sleep together. Consent is one of the most important topics when it comes to sexual encounters, particularly where alcohol is involved. Consent is defined as the permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. It’s as simple as asking your partner or partners “are you ok with this?” before you do anything. It does not ruin the mood and it will ensure that both parties involved have a good time while also being safe.
Consent can be taken away at any time if one party is uncomfortable in the situation. Everyone has the right to say “no” or “stop” or anything along those lines. If this happens you must stop what you’re doing at once as consent is no longer being given; no means no, and stop means stop. Constant communication with your partner or partners is incredibly important and will ensure that everyone has the best possible time.
“Everyone has the right to say no or stop”
It’s important to remember that if one party is inebriated be it from drugs or alcohol, then they legally cannot give consent. If someone cannot consent then having any kind of sexual encounter with them is be deemed as sexual assault or rape. If someone is stumbling around or passed out, look for their friends or try to help them in any way you can. Do not feed them more alcohol or attempt any sort of sexual act on them. Use your common sense and make sure consent is established before anything happens. Do not guilt anyone into having sex by saying things like “well you promised” or “but you came home with me”. Nobody has the right to expect sex from anyone else if consent has not been given, it’s as simple as that.
STI’s & UTI’s
With both STI’s and urinary tract infections on the rise, it is important to know what to look out for and what to do should you contract one. STI’s are on the up in Ireland with the most common being genital warts, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, with that in mind protection has never been more important. No contraceptive is 100% effective so to avoid the risk of STI’s or pregnancy, use more than one. Condoms and the contraceptive pill are two of the most common forms and will generally offer you good protection. Other contraceptives for women include the coil, the patch or the bar. Talk to your doctor about what method of protection would be best for you. If you do have unprotected sex and you need to take an emergency contraceptive, the sooner you take it the better as it’s more effective the morning after then say two days later. It can come in the form of a 3 day or 5 day pill and is available from pharmacists, prices do vary but it should cost around €18.
Chlamydia is currently the most common STI in Ireland and is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It can present without symptoms, but important signs to look out for in women include unusual discharge from the vagina, bleeding between periods and pain while peeing, itching or burning around the vagina is also a common symptom. For men symptoms include unusual discharge from the penis, pain while peeing, pain and swelling of the testes and burning or itching near the opening of the penis. Should you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor and a course of antibiotics should be prescribed.
Another common STI in the 15-24 age bracket, gonorrhoea can be spread via anal, vaginal or oral sex or through bodily fluids. Again it’s caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae which loves to grow in warm and moist conditions such as in the reproductive tract. Symptoms for women include a greenish-yellow or whitish discharge from the vagina, swelling of the vulva, burning while peeing or in the throat from oral sex, spotting (light bleeding) after sex or bleeding between periods. For men, symptoms include greenish-yellow or whitish discharge from the penis, painful or swollen testes, burning while peeing or burning in the throat (from oral sex). Should you have any of these symptoms, don’t panic (you’re not dying) see your doctor and a course of antibiotics should be prescribed. Anyone you have previously had sex with should also be informed so they can get themselves tested as well.
The rate of infection of HIV is growing again in Ireland, so it’s important to be informed about it. HIV is spread by unprotected sex. Symptoms can vary as some people can experience flu like symptoms 2-4 weeks after sex or some can experience no symptoms in the early years of infection. HIV will develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) whereby the virus has destroyed your immune system meaning that it cannot fight off basic infections. Treatment will be prescribed HIV medication such as retrovirals. It’s important to use protection and get yourself regularly tested. Places like HIV Ireland offer a free walk-in clinic every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 1-3:30pm. St James’ Hospital GUIDE clinic also offers a free walk-in clinic on a Monday from 9am or Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30pm.
A urinary tract infection is caused by a form of E.coli which can attach to the urethra and multiply. The chance of develop a UTI is much higher in women as the urethra is closer to the anus meaning that the bacterium is more easily spread. Common symptoms include burning while peeing, a constant pressure on the bladder, abdominal pain, peeing more or feeling the urge to pee more frequently, a brown, cola-coloured discharge from the vagina and blood in the urine. Should you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor and a course of antibiotics should be prescribed. Preventing UTI’s can be simple. Always, always, pee after sex and wipe front to back. Peeing after sex can help remove bacteria in your urethra and prevent bladder infections too.
One of my many beliefs is that life is too short for bad sex. In my book bad sex is defined as when one party doesn’t enjoy the encounter as much as they should. Nobody is perfect when it comes to sex but here’s some tips to make your encounter as enjoyable as possible.
Feel around down there
If you don’t know about your own anatomy, how on earth do you expect a partner to know what to do to satisfy you? Get to know your own body and your own likes and dislikes. Masturbate and try stuff out within your own limits so that you know what you like. Some people like oral sex while others prefer pure penetrative sex, knowing what you prefer will make for more enjoyable sex for all parties involved.
Communicate with your partner
This is a simple rule yet always seems to go missing in the heat of the moment. Communication is key to any good relationship, even your one night stand from Coppers. Use foreplay to get to know what they like and if it’s in tandem with what you like then it’ll be better for all involved. Simple questions like “do you like that?” or “is that ok?” help massively and make the encounter better for everyone. If you don’t like something, say “stop” immediately. You should always feel comfortable enough to say no to your partner if you feel uncomfortable.
Lubricant makes everything flow better. It can be a very sensual tool especially in foreplay. It also stops friction during vaginal or anal sex, remember that if you’re experiencing pain, that’s not normal and you should stop.
Try different positions
Missionary for 10 minutes is fine but it’s not exactly the most illuminating of experiences for anyone. Try new straightforward positions out such as reverse cowgirl or doggy style. Mix it up and make it interesting for all involved, as they say, variety is the spice of life.
Nudes & Revenge Porn
With Snapchat and WhatsApp more popular than ever, it’s important to protect yourself online when it comes to sending intimate photos. Don’t send intimate pictures to someone who you don’t trust fully. If you do send one to someone and they share it, they are violating your trust and you should not feel guilty about it. Unfortunately, revenge porn is not yet illegal in Ireland. We should live in a world where we’re able to do what we want with our bodies but unfortunately we do not.
The rules for nudes are simple:
- Only send them to people you trust.
- Don’t share anyone else’s nudes.
- Don’t send unsolicited nudes.
- Don’t pressure anyone into sending nudes.
Use your common sense, use protection, don’t be a dick and overall just enjoy yourself. It’s rare that we get so much time to explore our likes and dislikes like this so be smart and use it well.
Rachel O’Neill | Features Editor