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Men's Sexual Health Autumn Update

Welcome to the new redesigned Men’s Sexual Health Website, we hope you enjoy the new look and features we have implemented.
The autumn is fast approaching and September is the typical time of year when students are setting off to college and university, so with that in mind we have come up with a mini health guide of things you should consider before heading off.

Register with a local GP: If, like most students, you spend more weeks of the year at your college address than your family’s address, you need to register with a GP near your college as soon as possible. That way you can receive emergency care if you need it and access health services quickly and easily while you're at college. It’s especially important if you have an ongoing health condition such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy. You can choose to register with any local GP. The health centre attached to your college or university is likely to be the most convenient and the doctors working there will be experienced in the health needs of students. Many college health centres have good links with specialists such as psychiatrists, sports physicians, psychotherapists, counsellors and physiotherapists.

Register with a dentist: Dental problems can’t be dealt with by doctors, so register with a local dentist. Not all treatment is free, even under the NHS. You can apply for help with health costs, including prescriptions and dental care, by filling out an HC1 form, available from most surgeries and pharmacies.

Check or update vaccinations: Universities and colleges advise students to be immunised against meningitis C and mumps before starting their studies. These infections are rare, but occur more commonly among students. There have been several outbreaks of both infections in a number of UK universities in recent years. Both are serious infections. Meningococcal meningitis can kill and mumps can damage fertility. If you haven't already been immunised against meningitis C or mumps, arrange to be vaccinated by your doctor. Get an annual flu vaccination if you have asthma and take inhaled steroids. You should also get a flu vaccination if you have a serious long-term condition such as kidney disease.

Get Contraception: Even if you don't plan to be sexually active while you're a student, it’s good to be prepared. Contraception and condoms are free to both men and women from any GP (it doesn't have to be your own) or family planning clinic. Students can make an appointment for advice on contraception and sexual health at any time. The sooner you do it, the better.

Rest & Health Eating: Student life may not be renowned for early nights and healthy eating, but getting enough sleep and eating well will mean you have a better chance of staying healthy. You’ll feel more energetic and be better equipped to cope with studying and exams. Eating well doesn’t have to cost a lot and is often cheaper than takeaways. Taking the time to cook simple meals instead of eating out or buying ready meals is also healthier. Buy a student cookbook to give you some ideas. Try to five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, buy wholemeal bread and pasta instead of white, and keep fast food to a minimum.

Alcohol & Drugs: One of the most common associations with students is the amount they drink, and student life can be extremely socialable so over engaging in alcohol is easily and commonly done. Drinking in moderation is acceptable, but it’s when it you are constantly getting drunk or binge drinking that is can become an issue. Short term it could have an effect on your academic standards, arriving late to classes, hungover, unable to concentrate on coursework or exams, this could spiral into being kicked off the course. But more seriously it could put you in more harm, such as date rape, or being involved in car accident. Never accept drinks from strangers, or leave your drink unattended. Never get into a car if you have been drinking with the intention to drive or get into one with someone who has. Also you risk doing something you regret while under the influence, sleeping with the wrong person, not using protection, catching an STI, or getting someone pregnant.The long term effects of drinking are also serious; it can lead to liver disease, heart attacks and is associated with many cancers.

Drugs are also associated with student, especially cannabis as this is a very social drug that most 16-24 year olds have reported to have tried during their student days. But remember drugs are illegal for a reason, many can lead to psychological and physiological damage, and again put you in situations that without influence you wouldn’t be in. The legal penalties should also be considered, with many carrying fines and jail terms depending on the drug. The best way to avoid the above is to just say no, remain drug free during this important time, find other ways to be sociable and don’t accept peer pressure.

Stress & Depression: The challenge of doing coursework, exams, degrees etc can be overwhelming at times, notice when the pressure is getting too much and talk to someone, and take some time out. Discuss with your tutor or GP, no course is worth affecting your mental health.

If you are one of many going off to college or university this September, have a fantastic time, but remember the above and be safe.

If you would like any help or advice before or during your academic time please get in touch.