Sexual health

Going to university is an exciting time where you are likely to experience new friendships and relationships. Whilst you are studying it is important that you take a positive and respectful approach your sexual health. You can do this by being aware of the facts and knowing about local services and where to go for advice and support.

Contraception and pregnancy

Contraception or birth control is used to prevent women from getting pregnant. If you want to have a sexual relationship and avoid getting pregnant you need to use a reliable form of contraception. If you choose one that fits with your lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to use it properly and it will be more effective. Contraception and contraceptive advice is free for students in the UK. With 15 methods of contraception to choose from, there should be one that’s right for you. 

NHS Choices provides loads of information about the different types of contraception

This useful contraception tool can help you make the right decision about what contraception would suit you best.

For information about local sexual health services across England, the NHS website offers a ‘find services near you’ search. 

Your GP can provide most forms of contraception. If you don’t want to go to your GP for any reason you can go to Sexual Health in Plymouth (SHiP) – a local specialist service that holds clinics and walk in and wait sessions in various locations across the city.



As well as being an effective method of avoiding unwanted pregnancy condoms are the most effective protection against all sexually transmitted infections. You can buy condoms from local pharmacies and supermarkets. The C-Card Scheme provides free condoms for people under 25 years from a number of sites across Plymouth.


Emergency contraception

If you’ve had sex without using contraception or think that your contraception might have failed you can take the emergency contraception pill or morning after pill for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. This is available from GPs and can be purchased from high street pharmacies. 

The emergency contraception pill is also available free to women aged 13-25 years from various community pharmacies across Plymouth.

Unplanned pregnancy

If you think you are pregnant it can be a difficult and worrying time. There is lots of support available.  

Information about local abortion services can be found:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

It's important to know that all STIs are treatable. Getting tested can seem daunting but it is straightforward. Some STIs might not have any symptoms but can cause serious damage to your body, such as infertility. Getting tested for STIs is free, easy and confidential.

You can find information about STIs at NHS Choices.

Watch this video to hear real life accounts of what it is like to have a sexually transmitted infection. 

Sexual Health in Plymouth (SHiP) is the local specialist sexual health service and provides STI testing and treatment at various locations in the city.

If you are worried about having an STI but don’t have any symptoms SHiP also provides a free online STI testing service where you can order a kit to be sent to your home, take your own samples and post them back to the service.


Other resources

Sex Worth Talking About is an NHS website giving lots of information and advice about all aspects of sexual and reproductive health. 

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation has a vision of a world where no young person contracts HIV or dies from AIDS. 

The Student Room is an online resource for students – it includes sexual health advice.

<p>Student Wellbeing Services team 2021<br></p>

Student Wellbeing Services – Plymouth campus

Student Hub, Charles Seale-Hayne Library, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA

Opening times: Monday–Friday, 8:30–17:00 (Wednesday open 10:00, Friday close 16:30)