Free contraception, including condoms, pills, the patch, IUDs, IUSs, injections, and implants, is available at the NHS Sexual Health Clinic at the Community Hospital.
Contraception is not one-size-fits-all; it’s important to find out which method will work best for your body and lifestyle. The NHS, Brook, and Planned Parenthood have useful contraception guides.
Although many forms of birth control are effective for preventing pregnancy, condoms are the only way to protect yourself from STIs. It is important to use condoms, either internal or external, when engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Dams can also be used as a barrier during contact between mouth and vagina, or the mouth and anus.
Condoms are extremely effective if used properly. See Planned Parenthood for step-by-step instructions.
Free condoms are available from:
- Union reception, night-time
- Our Director of Wellbeing, Union sabb office, daytime
- Iain Cupples, our Student Advocate, Union middle floor, daytime
- Condom Reps, in every hall
- GUM, sexual health, and contraceptive clinics
- Some GPs
- If you're a man who has sex with other men, you can get free condoms by post from the Terrence Higgins Trust
The Director of Wellbeing and Iain Cupples also stock pregnancy tests, if needed.
Condoms should be stored in a cool dry place, where they're not likely to be punctured or mangled. They should not be stored in wallets, as a combination of body heat and friction can damage the condom.
More information about contraception:
There are two forms of emergency contraception. They are available at the Sexual Health Clinic, your GP practice, or pharmacies such as Boots.
- The emergency contraceptive ("morning after") pill. Levonelle must be taken within 3 days, or ellaOne within 5 days. The sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.
- The Copper IUD. Can be inserted up to five days after sex.
Free period products
You can access free period products at the following places in St Andrews:
- Main Library (top floor toilets)
- Sports Centre (changing room)
- Students' Association (toilets)
- Any hall of residence
Additionally, we hold reusable period product giveaways throughout the year. You can pick up reusable period products for free anytime from the Director of Wellbeing on the middle floor of the Union. We normally stock menstrual cups and reusable pads, and often have a supply of period underwear as well.
Consent and sexual assault
Before engaging in sexual activity with another person, you must ask them whether they would like to engage in this activity, i.e. have their consent. The absence of a "yes" is always a "no". Consent must be enthusiastically and freely given: coercing or pressuring someone to engage in sexual activity is assault. Learn more: Cycling Through Consent.
It is important that before and during sexual activity, you ask your partner what they feel comfortable with, discuss contraception, and what they enjoy. For more information on safe and enjoyable sex, see Sexpression St Andrews.
Rape Crisis Scotland defines sexual assault as "what happens when someone does not consent to a sexual act". Sexual assault does not have to be violent in order qualify as assault; sexual assault is any sexual contact that takes place without consent. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Got Consent? and the University have online information and in-person workshops on consent and sexual assault, including support and reporting options. Sexual assault is never the victim's fault. If you are in danger or need medical assistance, call 999.
Sexual Health Clinics
Most sexual health services have been adapted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, services like emergency testing and support for unplanned pregnancy will still be available. A full list of services available from NHS Fife and how to access them is available on their website.
Anyone can get an STI, regardless of sexuality. Using a condom or another barrier keeps you and your partner safe. See The Mix for a guide on talking about using contraception. If you are worried you might have an STI, see the NHS guide.
See Brook to learn what an STI test involves.
Find out more about STIs from the NHS and sexwise.org.uk.
STIs don’t always have noticeable symptoms. You should get tested if you or a partner has had unprotected sex, a sexual partner has any symptoms, or if you are planning a pregnancy and may be at risk of infection. Getting tested regularly can prevent you passing infections on or causing long-term damage.
All sexual activities have risks. Sex is only completely safe if all participants have negative test results, and have not since had sex or come into contact with anyone else's blood, semen, breast milk, or vaginal fluids.
Safe sex resources:
If you are experiencing symptoms of HIV, you should get tested at the Sexual Health Clinic. Alternatively, you can get a free discreet HIV self-testing kit through the Terrence Higgins Trust.
If you know you have put yourself at risk, and it is within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV, you can ask for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) from a HIV/Sexual Health clinic, or from A&E departments.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of HIV drugs taken before sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. PrEP is available in Scotland from the NHS; if you are eligible, you can get it from the Sexual Health Clinic.
Anyone can be infected with HIV, regardless of sexual preference, gender, age, or race. With modern treatment, people who are HIV positive can live long and healthy lives. Furthermore, people on effective HIV treatment cannot pass on the virus.
Despite this, there is stigma around being HIV positive. You can talk to Student Services about any problems you may be having. Book an appointment or email [email protected].