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If you want to avoid picking up an STI, or erm... a baby, you need to have safe sex. Get clued-up on safe sex and why you need to use condoms... Sex with fewer risks. Practise safer sex and you're far less likely to pick up an STI, including HIV. It means using condoms - always. Sex and condoms go together like Ant and Dec. We can't have one without the other. It also means being choosy about your partners. More partners = bigger risk. It doesn't mean not having fun. It doesn't mean not being passionate or spontaneous. There is nothing romantic or reckless about STIs.

What are my options? • Condoms • The Pill • Diaphragms and caps • IUD (Inter-Uterine Device) • Contraceptive injections and implants • Natural (or rhythm) contraception Condoms Condoms are your best bet for protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections. The male condom is a thin sheath of latex rubber or polyurethane that fits over a boy's erect penis. The female condom is made of polyurethane and loosely lines the girl’s vagina. They block sperm from getting into the girl’s vagina to stop her getting pregnant. Full details are in the condom factfile. 95-98% effective

Collect a C-Card (which can get you free condoms and sexual advice from the Youth Workers, their office is located in SRC 1 opposite the LRC.

The Pill The Pill is a tablet taken by a woman usually so that she can have sex without getting pregnant. The pill is over 99% effective Contraceptive injections and implants These work in a similar way to the progesteroneonly Pill. With the injection, the hormone progesterone is injected into a woman’s body and protects her from pregnancy for 8-12 weeks. With implants, a tiny tube containing progesterone is placed under the skin of the woman’s arm, protecting her for three years. More than 99% effective

What if I can't decide? Many women talk things through with their family or friends first. Or maybe you'd prefer to talk to an expert: someone who has all the facts, won't tell anyone and helps you make your own decision. Your doctor can refer you to a counsellor and most women find this very helpful.

What are they? STIs are diseases passed on through bodily fluids, like saliva, blood and sexual fluids (eg. sperm). We get an STI by having sex (including oral sex) with someone who's infected. All are unpleasant. And can cause lasting damage. But most are treatable. And preventable. How will I know if I've caught an STI? Remember that STIs are often silent. This means that you or your partner may have one and know nothing about it. This doesn't mean you can't pass it on. And it doesn't mean it's not doing you harm inside. The only way to be sure, is to have a sexual health screen. This means seeing your GP or local sexual health clinic and having tests done to rule out infections. Sometimes (but not always) this includes swabs being taken from our genitals, blood tests and/or urine tests. Everyone who is having sex should have an STI screen from time to time. Do the decent thing. Look after yourself. The symptoms of the most common STIs are: • Chlamydia and gonorrhoea: Unusual discharge from the genitals (penis or vagina), pain urinating (weeing), pain in the lower abdomen. However, about 80% of women who have Chlamydia get no symptoms at all. • Genital warts: Flat or cauliflower-like bumps around the genitals. • Genital herpes: Painful blisters or ulcers on the mouth or genitals. Flu-like symptoms like headache or swollen glands. • Syphilis: Ulcers (which are often painless) on the genitals. Rashes, flu-like symptoms. • Pubic lice: Itching around the genitals, black powder found in underwear, white specks in pubic hair. • For info on HIV and Aids see the factfile.

What if I think I might have one? See your doctor or sexual health clinic. Most STIs can be cured with a simple course of antibiotic pills or cream. But if left untreated they can cause more serious health problems like not being able to have babies. Remember, the professionals you meet spend all day every day screening people for STIs. People of all shapes, sizes and sexualities. No one will judge or lecture you. They'll just think you're great for taking care of yourself. How can I make sure I don't get an STI? Use a condom every time you have sex. This is the best protection we have. Condoms are little latex life savers. Never underestimate the power of the Jonny. Some couples go to the doctor or clinic for a check up to make sure they are free from infection before having sex without condoms. But remember - this check up is useful, but not foolproof: The results are out of date as soon as we sleep with someone new.

Take the sexual health quiz by clicking the link below: SRCs Sexual Health Quiz

Alcohol is a big issue in the UK. Some start drinking too young, others drink too much. If you're going to drink, you should know about the effects and how it makes you feel. You should also prepare to meet the hangover... What is it? The alcohol that we drink is made by fermenting or distilling fruit, vegetables and grains. This is where it gets its distinctive flavours from. In its pure form ethyl alcohol is a clear, colourless liquid. Alcohol is one of the strongest mood-changing drugs in use today. How does it make you feel? Alcohol makes you feel relaxed, cheerful and confident. Drinking too much is pretty unpleasant. The room spins, you get sick, slur your words and lose your memory. Some people get stroppy and aggressive. The day after a drinking session you'll probably get a hangover. You might feel sick, thirsty, tired, washed out and a bit low.

What are the health effects? The UK government has set guidelines on limits for healthy drinking. These are a maximum of 21 units a week for adult men (over 18 years), 14 a week for adult women. The limits are lower for under 18s. And remember the guidance is for a week - drinking all your units at once (binge drinking) is definitely not healthy. There is 1 unit to half a pint of weak beer and 2 units in the average alcopop. Drinking alcohol increases your chances of having an accident of some sort. Or doing stuff you'd regret the next day. Stick with mates who will look out for you. Alcohol is the most common date rape drug. Be wary of getting drunk with someone that you don't know very well. Alcohol can be addictive. If you drink regularly you will build up a tolerance to it and you'll need more and more to get the same effect. Then you get really nasty withdrawals when (and if) you stop. Long-term drinking can damage your heart and your liver, and it really messes with your head.

Drugs can be broadly divided into three categories based on their main effects. •

They may act solely as stimulants, depressants or hallucinogens. Quite a few drugs show two of these effects at the same time, and are then described either as stimulant hallucinogens (e.g. ecstasy) or as depressant hallucinogens (e.g. cannabis).

Stimulants make you feel like you have lots of energy and confidence. They include cocaine, speed, ecstasy, and mephedrone.

Depressants make you feel relaxed and chilled out. They include alcohol, tranquillisers, heroin and cannabis.

Hallucinogens can make you view reality in distorted way and sometimes cause vivid hallucinations. They include LSD and magic mushrooms. In addition to these 3 broad categories, each particular drug has its own specific effects and risks.

• •

When you obtain drugs anywhere other than from a reliable pharmacy, it can be difficult to say exactly what effects and risks the drug may have. A drug may be quite new and its harms may not yet be fully known, or the drug you are actually taking may not be what you believe it to be (e.g. both PMA and mephedrone have been sold as MDMA/ecstasy). Information on the known effects of each drug is available in the A-Z of drugs.

Drug abuse at any age can cause serious health effects, but teens who abuse drugs are at particular risk for negative consequences. Teens who abuse drugs are more likely to struggle with addiction later in life and have permanent and irreversible brain damage. Some other common negative effects of teen drug abuse are: * Emotional problems. Drug abuse can cause or mask emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. In fact, among teens with major depression, 34.6 percent report using drugs. Unfortunately, drug use can also increase the severity of these emotional problems. For example, teens that use marijuana weekly double their risk of depression and anxiety.

* Behavioral problems. Teens who abuse drugs have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence. According to a recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, teens who abuse drugs are more likely than teens who don’t abuse drugs to engage in delinquent behaviors such as fighting and stealing. * Addiction and dependence. Studies prove that the younger a person is when they begin using drugs the more likely they are to develop a substance abuse problem and relapse later in life. * Risky sex. Teens that use drugs are five times more likely to have sex than teens who don’t use drugs. Teens that use drugs are also more likely to have unprotected sex and have sex with a stranger. This leads to higher risks of STDs, teen pregnancy and sexual assault. * Learning problems. Drug abuse damages short-term and long-term memory and can lead to problems with learning and memory later in life. * Diseases. Teens who abuse drugs with needles increase their risk of bloodborne diseases like HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C. * Brain damage. Drug abuse among teens can result in serious mental disorders or permanent, irreversible damage to the brain or nervous system. Brain damage among teens who abuse drugs includes brain shrinkage; impaired learning abilities; amnesia and memory problems; impaired reasoning, perception and intuition; increased or decreased socialization; and changes in sexual desire.

• Cannabis • Cocaine • Ecstasy

• LSD • Heroin

Look after yourself  
Look after yourself  

SRCs guide to looking after yourself