Fresher advice: Condoms – get a clue

– James Thornhill contributed to this report.

You’re going to meet a lot of new people at university. If you’re lucky enough, you might have sex with some of them.


Figures from the Terrence Higgins Trust revealed that one in ten students didn’t know how to put a condom on properly. Photo: Shawn Latta

If you do get lucky, you’ll want to have all the fun without any of the nasty repercussions. The last thing you want to be taking home with you at Christmas is an STI or an unwanted pregnancy.

You’re going to feel that you already know all this, and by the time you get to university you should know all about contraception. But the fact is a lot of new students don’t.

Back in 2007, shocking information from the Terrence Higgins Trust revealed that students were clueless about condoms (and other contraception). Here are some of the massive condom clangers dropped by the 2,200 students they asked:

  • One in ten didn’t know how to put a condom on properly.
  • One-third thought that latex condoms had holes in them large enough for HIV to pass through.
  • 16% thought that using two condoms was safer than using one.
  • One in ten believed that condoms should be kept in a warm place (which actually leads to them perishing).
  • Seven clueless individuals thought that condoms could be washed and used again.
  • Almost a quarter also believed that other forms of contraception would protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When you use a (male) latex condom properly it’s 98% effective against STI and pregnancy. This means they are not 100% perfect (they can slip off or split) but they are by-far the best chance you have of having safe sex.

Getting hold of some ‘rubbers’ is very, very easy. You can get some for free from the Student Health Centre (on-campus). There are also plenty of other local family planning centres that should be able to give you some.

You can also buy some in supermarkets, chemists, pubs, bars, petrol stations and public toilets – so there is absolutely no excuse to not have some (and use them).

Make sure that they have a BSI kitemark or a CE mark on the packet. This means they have been tested to a high safety standard – something you really want to make sure of!

It’s a pretty simple piece of advice. If you’re going to have sex, use a condom.

James Thornhill is the editor of The National Student. His book, “The Student Manual: The Complete Guide to University Life” from Haynes, is now available to purchase on Amazon.

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