Sexual Health

Interview 47 - Katie & Alice

Age at interview: 22

Brief outline: Katie first started taking the oral contraceptive Microgynon to help with her heavy periods. Now she takes Yasmin but also uses condoms. Katie and her housemates decided to go together to their local Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic to have a Chlamydia test. Alice took the oral contraceptive Microgynon for a few years but decided to change it after she started experiencing headaches. At present she is on Yasmin but feels that she hasn't received adequate advice and informat

Background: Katie University student; single. At the time of the interview she was living in an all female student house. Ethnic background: White British. Alice Final year at university; single. Shares a house with other students. Ethnic background: White British.

Audio & video


Katie is at university and lives in student shared accommodation. She was first given the oral contraceptive Microgynon to help her with her heavy periods. Her GP later changed it to Yasmin after her skin started to be affected by dryness. Her GP has discussed with her other family planning alternatives such as implants and the coil but to Katie such methods have not finished to convince her in particular implants. Her main concerns about implants are the sense of permanency and lack of control.
Katie uses the contraceptive pill and condoms at the start of a relationship but stops using condoms with a regular partner usually after finding out about the partner’s sexual health history. She says that however embarrassing it is important to discuss with your boyfriend the issue of sexual health. She thinks that her ‘matter of fact’ attitude to sexual health has to do with good information and advice, peer group and her surroundings. The city where she lives has a substantial student population and sexual health and family planning education and services were described by Katie as first-rate.
Katie described herself and her friends as ‘clued up’ when it comes to information about sexual health and family planning. For her, her main source of information about these themes was her school. She thinks it is essential that issues such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies need to be reinforced by an authority type of figure and not just discussed within a peer group. For Katie sexual health education in school should start around the age of thirteen or fourteen because most kids start thinking about relationships and sex around that time.
Unprotected sex prompted Katie and her house mates to decide to go to their local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) including Chlamydia. In her experience the staff at the GUM clinic was sensitive and helpful, and they were given the option to use a made up name if they didn’t want to use their real one when being called by the nurse from the reception room.
Alice took the oral contraceptive Microgynon for a few years but decided to change it after she started experiencing headaches. At present she is on Yasmin but feels that she hasn’t received adequate advice and information from her GP about the contraceptives methods available. She remembers to have been given leaflets but what she really wanted was to talk to a health professional about all the methods available to her and the pros and cons of each of them so to be able to make an informed choice. Infertility is her main concern regarding long-term reversible contraception like implants. She says that most of her information about contraceptive methods comes from the media.
She feels that she and her friends are doing very well when it comes to sexual health protection and avoiding pregnancy. She knows where to go to access services and advice. She has attended a genitor-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic and requested to be tested for everything. The reasons that prompted her to go and be tested were unprotected sex and the need to know that everything was all right. Alice thinks that if you have had unprotected sex the most sensible thing to do is to get tested. Alice went with friends to the GUM clinic for ‘moral support’. She says that going to a GUM clinic can be a bit intimidating, especially because she found herself waiting for a long time in reception before being called to see a doctor.
The experience of the consultation and test itself were absolutely fine. Alice explains that the doctor asked about such things like sexual partners in the last 12 months, alcohol intake and method of contraception use. Then the doctor explained exactly the test procedures and what they were going to test her for, including a blood sample to test for HIV. She describes the tests as not at all painful and the Chlamydia test as uncomfortable. She says that the experience of testing is not at all scary and that the staff is very supportive and ‘nice and friendly’. She felt reassurance by the experience at the GUM clinic and would test again if she had any worries about her sexual health.



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