Sexual health and relationships

Coming to University can be a life changing experience. We understand that many students will arrive on campus with a variety of experiences and ideas about sex. For many, University will open up a number of exciting personal opportunities; self-development, experimentation, the chance to from new and intimate relationships. However it's also a time to take responsibility for your own health and wellbeing.

The vibrant student life can be exciting, meeting new people and socialising, but we also want you to be safe, feel good about yourself and:

  • protect yourself and your partner against STIs/ unintended pregnancy
  • feel comfortable and accepted about your sexual orientation
  • be able to choose to have sex or not to have sex
  • be free from exploitation, oppression, physical or emotional harm.

Sexual health is an important part of physical and mental health as well as your emotional and social wellbeing. It's important to take care of your sexual health and, if you have children, it's good to talk about sex and relationships.

If you are sexually active, you need to look after your sexual health and take the time to time to understand the facts and issues surrounding contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Some STIs, like chlamydia, carry no symptoms and therefore may be unnoticeable. This infection can also cause infertility so it's important to be safe and protect yourself by having regular check ups.

For more advice, information or to discuss your contraceptive options you can talk to a doctor or nurse at your local GP surgery or the local sexual health service.

You can also access support from the Staffordshire Sexual Health Charity who can offer support, advice, and education around sexuality, gender, HIV and sexual wellbeing

Are you under 24? If so, why not register for a C-Card today to get quick and easy access to free condoms from a range of venues across Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire. It is a confidential service which also offers information and advice about sexual health and relationships.

As well as looking after your physical sexual health, you should also take steps to look after your emotional sexual wellbeing. This includes:

  • Being able to express your sexuality freely within healthy relationships.
  • Having your sexual orientation, preferences, and identity accepted by those around you, and by the wider community.
  • Sexual self-esteem and feeling good about your body and desires.
  • Forgiveness of past sexual experiences, even if you have done something you regret.
  • Self-determination in your own sex life to choose the sexual behaviours that you want to engage in.
  • Feeling comfortable with your own sexuality, preferences and needs.

You can find further guidance and support on Sexwise.

Good sexual health is vital for everyone. Trans, non-binary and gender diverse people often find they are left out of mainstream information relating to health and wellbeing. 

Trans students may also benefit from applying to the Gender Identity Fund to support their sexual wellbeing or be able to support funding for sexual health care. This is a Student Union initiatives to help individuals who identify as trans or gender-neutral be able to financially afford gender affirming treatment, or items that allow them to express their true self.

The specialist sexual health clinic for trans and non-binary people that is closest to Keele is in Manchester at the Northern Sexual Health Clinic.

There are also a number of charities that offer support, advice and information:

  • The Beaumont Society – help and support from the trans community.
  • The Clare Project – Trans support and social group based in Brighton and Hove but open to anyone wishing to explore issues around gender identity.
  • Gendered Intelligence – Trans-led charity that aims to improve the lives of trans and non-binary people in the UK, specialises in supporting young people.
  • GIRES – Gender identity research & education.
  • LGBT Foundation – National charity based in Manchester with trans services and resources.
  • Mermaids – UK charity supporting trans and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.
  • Mindline trans + – Emotional and mental health support helpline for anyone identifying as trans, non-binary, gender variant, and their families, friends, colleagues and carers. Their phone line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8pm to midnight. Ring 0300 330 5468.
  • Spectra – Peer-led trans services accessible to all trans and gender-diverse people, including 1-2-1 health advocacy support, and counselling, peer mentoring, referral and signposting to relevant partners, talks and workshops and monthly online and in-person social groups. 
  • Stonewall – UK charity campaigning for LGBT equality.
  • Switchboard – LGBT+ helpline.
  • THT Direct – our phone and email service for questions about sexual health or living with HIV.
  • Transbucket –Health care and surgery resource for the online trans community.
  • WPATH – Non-profit organisation devoted to trans health.

People with a learning disability have the same rights as anyone else to express their sexuality and have personal and sexual relationships if they want to.

If you have a learning disability or are in a relationship with someone who has, then these resources about sexuality and relationships may be helpful for you.

Sex workers deserve a safe space to access support – without judgment - regardless of their backgrounds and experiences.

There is advice on staying safe, looking after your sexual health and wellbeing in relation to your work, and accessing specialist support from Support for Student Sex Workers.

Please note that if you are struggling financially and feel you have no choice but to turn to sex work, we would encourage you to contact Student Financial Support to explore any financial support you may be entitled to.