Brig’s guide to getting it on at uni

9 mins read

For most people, university is the first time in life you have the freedom to explore sex and sexuality without having to dodge the obstacles inherent in family life. No more ushering your beloved out the back door while your dad stands in the hall like a terrifying barrier coming between you and your next shag.

But for many of us, navigating the world of uni dating, casual hookups, and flings can be a bit of a minefield, and there’s a lot of stuff you’re expected to just know somehow, without ever being told – heaven forbid PSHE lessons covered anything useful. But never fear, Brig’s got you covered.

In essence, consent is very simple: an encounter is consensual when all involved parties have agreed to participate by choice and have both the freedom and capacity to make that choice. This means everyone – consent doesn’t just apply to women, and we all deserve to have our wishes respected.

Consent should be enthusiastic. If someone is unsure, quiet, or seems ‘frozen’, stop. Ask them if they are okay and happy with what is happening. Nothing is sexier than a partner who eagerly wants you to keep going. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure an encounter is consensual. Remember to also communicate your consent with your partner!

If someone is too drunk or high to know what’s happening to them, they cannot consent to a sexual encounter.

It’s important to remember consent can be withdrawn at any time and just because you had sex willingly with someone one day doesn’t mean you have consented to do anything more

Communication is vital

It can be hard to imagine what gaining consent looks like when you’re with a new partner, or new to sex altogether. If someone is enthusiastically engaging in sexual activity, saying ‘Yes, do that, touch me there’, you can feel comfortable that they are consenting. You can also strengthen a relationship by expressing your boundaries, listening to their boundaries, and ensuring everyone’s boundaries are respected. A quick conversation before things get too heated can be enough.

Some people might find it difficult to have these conversations, especially if the sex ed in your school was poor. There are a lot of great metaphors for explaining consent online, from cups of tea to handshakes. The websites and both cover it in great detail, and Healthline has some excellent examples – just search for “healthline consent”.

You should only ever have to say or hear ‘no’ once. Consent gained through coercion or manipulation is not truly consent – if you have sex with someone because they said they’d dump you if you didn’t, you weren’t truly consenting; feeling uncomfortable and confused about the situation is perfectly natural. For advice on this topic, search “Stirling #erasethegrey” to get more info about Uni’s gender and sexual violence campaign.

Have fun but be sensible. Image credit Shvets Anna/Pexels

Staying safe

Condoms are the top tool in the kit to get it on at uni. They protect you from unwanted pregnancies but even if there are alternative forms of contraception involved, they perform the vital role of keeping you safe from sexually transmitted infections. It’s so important to protect yourself from ever getting an STI instead of just treating them if they come up. Some STIs cannot be cured and must be managed long-term – hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, and HPV – and some don’t present any symptoms until serious damage has been done. Some STIs can affect your fertility.

Free condoms are available at the Stirling Student Union main office and from Airthrey Park Medical Centre (APMC).

Getting help

Stirling Students Union is a great resource beyond just free condoms. A Union spokesperson commented, “The health and well-being of our members is of great importance to us. We would encourage any student wishing to seek support to reach out to the services available both on campus and beyond should they need to.” VP Communities Zoë Crosher also said “For any additional support from the SU, we’d encourage students to get in touch with our advocacy department at” – this is a dedicated and confidential resource for helping students in need and no matter how trivial or serious you feel the issue is, the Union aims to respond on the same working day.

For registered patients, APMC offers appointments to discuss all kinds of sexual health and wellbeing issues including STI tests, treatment, and long-term contraception. GP Partner Claire Spearing said “Our clinic runs daily, and we have appointments available on the day or bookable in advance. We would encourage anyone who has any concerns about genital symptoms, or additionally, men who have urinary symptoms to make an appointment with us for review.” Dr Spearing also said that any registered patients can make appointments for reviews or testing if they are not symptomatic or to discuss any contraception needs. If you are not registered at APMC, contact Central Sexual Health at 01324 673554, or visit their website on

For queer students, Stirling has a well-regarded LGBTQ support system which includes a network of queer staff members on hand to support students and help them solve LGBTQIA+ specific issues and provide a welcoming and sympathetic ear. Search ‘University of Stirling lgbtq support’ on Google. There is also an LGBTQIA+ society which you can find on the Student Union website. Dr. Spearing said, “We feel it is important that patients are given the opportunity to be called by their preferred name and pronoun, and we encourage our patients to share this information with us.” She also said that APMC can refer people to the specialist transgender health clinic in Glasgow, though people can self-refer if preferred at

There is plenty of support for LGBTQ+ students at Stirling. Image credit: 42 North/Pexels

What to expect when…

We can be as careful as possible and still have that 1 in 100 chance that birth control fails. Dr Spearing offered this advice: “Antenatal care is offered to all patients living in Forth Valley. Once a patient finds out they are pregnant, they can self-refer to the midwife team on 01324 567146. For some people, it may not be possible to proceed with a pregnancy. If a patient is thinking about having an abortion, they can self-refer to FV Termination of Pregnancy Service by calling 01324 673 555 Monday – Friday 08:30 -16:00. This can be a difficult decision and patients may wish to discuss this with a GP – we would, of course, welcome patients who are registered with the practice to make an appointment to chat further.

“It should also be noted that we offer mental health support at APMC with both a practice mental health nurse and an enhanced psychological practitioner on site. Appointments are available for all patients registered with APMC.”

Don’t let your newfound sexual freedom overwhelm you – everyone’s learning, we’re at university after all. Just remember, consent, communication, and condoms! Those three C’s have got you covered.

Featured image: Deon Black/Pexels

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Student journalist & freelance writer

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