Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy are the real risks when having sex. More and more young people are becoming pregnant and catching STIs simply because they don’t prepare for sex, or think contraception isn’t necessary. WELL IT IS!! Using contraception should become second nature and a responsibility of both partners.
It can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and awkward to deal with but well worth it! Contraception such as condoms is widely available so you shouldn’t have any massive problems. They are available in most supermarkets, chemists and you can also collect one from your Welfare Officer, Pat Doocey. Keep an eye out for SHAG Week too, a large number of free condoms are handed out then.
- It’s best to consult your doctor regarding the best contraception options.
- If you are going to have sex you should know the risks first!
- Without taking precautions, sex can lead to pregnancy or disease.
- Unintended pregnancies and sexual infections are on the increase.
- Taking the time to learn about, talk about, and use contraception can save you lots of time, worry, money, and give you peace of mind.
- Getting and using contraception shouldn’t be embarrassing, its embarrassing for those who don’t use it.
- Contraception is the responsibility of both partners!
- If you think you might have sex, always carry a condom.
- The pill can guard against pregnancy but not STIs, HIV, or AIDS.
- The best contraception is using the pill and a condom together. DON’T BE SILLY, WRAP YOUR WILLY
For more information on contraception and safe sex, visit www.spunout.ie, GMIT Student Health Service, or drop into the Students’ Union.
Emergency contraception is a secondary method of contraception. It can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. It is more effective if it is taken after sex or as soon as possible. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections!
Unprotected sex?? Contraception failed??
What to do if your contraception fails
Emergency contraception is also known as post coital contraception and can prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or if your method of contraception failed (e.g. burst condom, forgotten pill). It is not quite true to say ‘the morning after the night before’ as it can actually work up to 72 hours of unprotected sex. 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.
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. The ‘morning after pill’ is also now available in pharmacies.
See www.icgp.ie/go/find_a_gp for your local GP.
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 the 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.
Are there side effects?
- 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.
- The tablet can also alter your menstrual cycle. You may have some irregular bleeding after taking emergency contraception. This is not harmful.
- 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.
- 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.
With thanks to www.thinkcontraception.ie
If you believe you are pregnant you need to get this confirmed. You can get a pregnancy testing kit from any pharmacy or from a GP. If a test does come back positive don’t panic. You are not alone. Your head will start running through all sorts of scenarios.
Stop & Think
There are many individuals and organisations that can help you such as:
- Your GP
- The Student Health Service
- Student Counsellor
- Family Planning Agencies
All of the above will can organise help and support for you. It is important to note that some Family Planning Agencies may have an agenda. These agencies may bombard you with messages that may confuse or force you into a choice you may not have made if you were given time to think. It is always best to contact one of the publicly funded organisations. It is also possible that some GPs will not be comfortable giving you information about all of your options, for example abortion; and they are not required too.
A positive option is the option you choose to be the best one for your set of circumstances. It does not imply that the decision you make was an easy one. It meant that after you weighed up all your options, took into consideration your current life situation, you made a choice that was the best for YOU. Nobody has the right to tell you otherwise. If they do, they may be engaged in harassment or bullying.
For more information visit www.positiveoptions.ie
Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)
Sexual Health is not just about preventing pregnancy. STI’s are on the increase in Ireland – the number has doubled in the last five years. Lots of people don’t know much about them, or think that they happen to ‘other’ people’. 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
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, student health service, a family planning clinic or a genitourinary medicine clinic.
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, nonjudgmental and free.
STI’s Dos & Don’ts
- 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’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
For more information visit www.thinkcontraception.ie or contact the Student Health Service