I always felt like I had missed out on the task of “putting the condom on the banana”, which, from talking to friends, seems to be their one and only memory of their sex education lessons at school. However, at the recent event, ‘The Sex Session’, held on campus, I was finally given the chance to try out the task my friends remember so vividly.
‘The Sex Session’, organised by Health and Beauty Society, was run by two medical students from the charity, ‘Sexpression Southampton’. Forth year medic and President of the charity, Francesca Paltenghi, and the charity’s “sexretary”, second year medic Hugo Cohen, put on a fantastic event, tailored towards university students. The charity teaches sex education to school pupils in years eight to ten, so running the event for university students provided the opportunity to delve into the nitty gritty issues of sex.
Sitting in a room full of strangers for a sex class did initially produce a slightly awkward atmosphere, but this was quickly cleared by a fun sex game (not as dodgy as it sounds, honestly!). Francesca and Hugo said three statements which we had to either agree or disagree with. The game was fun and interactive but did reveal some conflicting attitudes towards sex. The statement which aroused the most controversy was probably “It is the guy’s responsibility to carry a condom”. Whilst some agreed that men should be responsible for ensuring that they have safe sex, others believed that girls should carry condoms as well, arguing that it’s up to both boy and girl to protect themselves from potential STIs and running the risk of getting pregnant.
After giving the group the chance to mingle, Francesca and Hugo then got down to business, talking to us about different STIs, backing up the information with some pretty gruesome images. I think the image of the “cauliflower genital warts” will stick in my mind for a long time to come! However, they were not aiming to scare us, but to inform students of the signs of STIs and how they can be treated.
We then had an informal chat about the range of contraceptives, from the contraceptive pill to female condoms. It was useful for everyone to see how many different types of contraception are out there: the pill and condoms are definitely not the only two on offer. It was at this point when we got to put the condoms on model penises, which was made rather entertaining by dividing the group into two and having a relay race – a bit of fun, testing our precision and speed.
One female student, who attended ‘The Sex Session’, said that she found the event informative: ‘It was an enjoyable night, tackling important subjects but discussing them in fun and engaging ways. It was nice to discuss the issues with people of our own age, who pass fewer judgments.’
To round the evening off, everyone was given a little bag of freebies, including Chlamydia tests to carry out in the comfort of our own homes. Francesca and Hugo stressed that, although there is a stigma attached to STIs as being ‘dirty’ and ‘slutty’, you can catch them just as easily as you can catch a cold, so it is really important that sexually active people get tested. And, as a lot of them can be treated very easily, it’s something definitely worth doing.
Free condoms and Chlamydia test in hand, I came away from a fun, informative and useful ‘Sex Session’, perfectly aimed at University students about the often not-talked-about sexual issues.