Students told us the truth about sex... Here's the results!

How many students have unprotected sex? How often are people getting tested? Our survey reveals all...

Recently, we asked the TSR community to answer our anonymous survey, giving us the frank and honest truth about students and sex. 

After surveying over 2,000 students, we found out what's really going on under the sheets - here's the results.

58% of sexually-active students have never been tested for STIs

Okay, so no-one actually enjoys going to the GUM clinic, but getting tested is a really important part of leading a healthy sex life.

With 66% of you previously having unprotected sex, it's important to make sure you haven't picked up any unwanted *surprises* along the way.

To get tested, you can either make an appointment at an STI / GUM clinic, or you can pop in to a local drop-in clinic in your area and wait to be seen - although be aware this can sometimes take a few hours. 

Any age or gender can visit an STI clinic, regardless of whether or not there's symptoms present, and everything is confidential - not even your GP will know. If you're under 16, the service is still confidential and the clinic won't tell your parents either.

If you're unsure what to expect from your day out at the GUM clinic, take a look at some other students' experiences below. You can also read our article about what happens at the clinic for more info.

Anonymous #1:

 

"I was diagnosed with Chlamydia and given antibiotics by GUM clinic. The clinic was very helpful and also spoke to best friends. Felt anxious that it could be something else and then nervous about telling previous sexual partners. The clinic offered a service to contact partners anonymously, which was fantastic! 

I did also get initially diagnosed with herpes - however, the test was negative and the presentation was abnormal. The clinic were great at reassuring me and giving me treatment, just in case. They also gave me a really useful leaflet which I have since shared with friends who had concerns over Herpes as well. I was very worried before consolation because of the stigma and lack of clear info on the internet about Herpes."
 


Anonymous #2: 

 

“Although I never had any symptoms, I've always got myself checked out. Especially every time I have a new partner, and I always made sure they do too. It just gave me peace of mind that we were both being safe and once we had the results we could relax and enjoy sex. 

The nurses are always really kind and do their best to keep you relaxed when you arrive at the clinic, the self-swabs for chlamydia testing are also really easy to use and you get the results generally within a week. If you feel really nervous about going, get your partner or one of your best friends to come along to the clinic for you."
 

56% of students are embarrassed buying condoms

If you're one of the survey respondents feeling a little shy, there's absolutely nothing to worry about! Almost everyone buys condoms at some point in their life, and there's no shame in having healthy and safe sexual experiences.

If you're worried about bumping into someone, head to a shop or chemist that isn't right on your doorstep - there's probably less chance of bumping into your elderly neighbour that way. If the odds aren't in your favour and you do spot a familiar face, just smile and be on your way - it's really not the end of the world, promise. 

A fifth (19%) of respondents also claimed they were unsure of where to access contraception, so it's time to get clued up!

The NHS website states you can access contraception free of charge in the following places:

  • Contraception clinics
  • Sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics
  • Some GP surgeries
  • Some young people's services.

Condoms can also be bought from most supermarkets, chemists, corner shops and even online! Just make sure you're buying from a reputable source if you do go online, and always look for the kitemark and expiry date on them to check they're safe to use.

Your sex education isn't quite cutting it

A whopping 64% of you said the sex education received at school was 'average', 'poor' or 'very poor', with a further 75% claiming it didn't prepare you for a sexual relationship. 

This could be because many areas of interest were not covered as part of the curriculum. When asked what areas you wanted more info on, these were the top answers:

  • Masturbation: 60%
  • Sexual assault and violence: 59%
  • Pregnancy, abortion and reproductive rights: 59%
  • LGBTQ+: 56%
  • Healthy relationships: 55%
     

As a result, answers are being sought elsewhere. The most common sources being:

  • Online: 57%
  • Friends: 50%
  • Parents: 31%
  • Online forums (like TSR): 31%

If you'd like sexual health advice, you can always ask a question in our sexual health forum, which also allows you to post anonymously if you're feeling shy. Likewise, you can check out the Family Planning Association (FPA) website and the NHS website for info on sexual health and contraception. 

What do you think about these survey results? Do you have anything you'd like answering? Join in with the conversation below.

Related on TSR:

How to empower your sex life

Everything you need to know about STIs

A beginner's guide to sex