Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby! Top tips for a comfortable uni experience

For many, this article might seem like a toe-curling embarrassment to read. The title alone might have been enough to bring a flush to your cheeks or you might feel the need to slam this page closed to protect yourself from the prudish judgement of nosey passers-by. Whatever it got you thinking is absolutely fine, but sex is everywhere, whether you choose to partake or not. At uni, sex is such a hot topic, to the point where it may feel as though ‘everyone and their nan’ is ‘doing it’, but don’t forget that not everybody has sex, not everybody wants sex, and not everyone is ready for sex at the exact same time. We’re all humans, figuring it out as we go along. Virgin or sex-veteran, it doesn’t matter; what matters is how comfortable you feel in yourself and around other people.

If you are sexually active, open to the idea in the future, completely averse to sex in general, or anything in between, these tips might help you navigate the hormonal battlefield that is university. 

Never Have I Ever

A game designed to expose, intimidate, and intoxicate… and at uni it’s mostly about sex. Though it can be great fun to hear about Marjorie’s wild trip to Magaluf, it’s always worth considering those who haven’t had sex or are struggling with the topic or idea of it. “Never Have I Ever” can be quite alienating or embarrassing, especially during first year when the statements never veer far from “Never Have I Ever: had sex in public”, or “used a sex toy”. If someone hasn’t experienced these things, they’re often too embarrassed to say so and end up feeling uncomfortable, and maybe even dipping out early. It’s worth mentioning that we can’t all have the same sexual prowess as Finneas from Flat 3, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s much less boring! If we were all at the same stage, life would be incredibly dull. If you notice your game is becoming a sex-contest, why not change the subject to keep entertainment levels up and conversation flowing, while steering away from the intimately personal?

Wrap it up

With Christmas just passed, we’re all tired of endless wrapping, however, you don’t need a ribbon or gift tag for this one… It is essential that you’re aware of your preferred methods of contraception, not just to prevent pregnancy, but also to stop STIs in their tracks. Even if you or your sexual partner use oral or hormonal contraception, extra precaution must be taken to prevent STIs, especially if your sexual partners often change. In 2018, a quarter of first year students contracted an STI, with 16-24-year-olds making up for a whopping 63% of reported chlamydia cases in the UK. There are free condoms available at the SU and Health Centre, and everyone is responsible for making sure everyone involved is safe and protected.

It goes both ways

Many people are still giving and not getting too much of the time. If your sexual partner or partners do not give you the same level of attention once they are satisfied, let them know you’re not there yet. This doesn’t have to result in an insult-slinging argument, but mentioning that you might quite like to finish too is completely acceptable. And if they get upset about it? The vibrator in your bedside table would probably give you a better time anyway…

Communication and Consent

It should go without saying that consent is always necessary, in all aspects of our lives. With sex being so intimate and private it is even more crucial that we ascertain exactly how each person in a relationship or sexual encounter feels. Before moving on from ‘talking’, it’s vital to communicate thoughts, feelings, and desires, whilst also listening to, and minding, anyone else’s. The key to healthy relationships – whether they last a night or a lifetime – is communication. Talking to one another provides a solid ground of trust on which you can build your interactions. It should also be noted that asking for consent/communicating is not only healthy, but also can be (speaking from just one woman’s point of view) very, very sexy.

Ask for Angela

Contrary to what you may assume, “Angela” is not the name of one of the girls behind the bar but is in fact a code which can be used in many clubs and bars (including the SU) to alert people that you are feeling unsafe in your situation. Whether it be an individual or a group making you feel uncomfortable, you can ask the bar staff for “Angela” and most places will understand and help you leave the situation discreetly and safely. 

Your uni experience might be a wild ride, a slow trudge, or somewhere in the middle. You may dye your hair orange over a breakup; you might learn the hard way not to sleep with your roommate; you may start an amazing long-term relationship; you may forever die a little inside at the rugby boy you fell head-over-heels for in week three; or you may not end up having sex at all. Whatever your uni experience, let’s make it a safe one.