HEALTH

RESOURCES

The following pharmacies offer student discounts:

The University Pharmacy Newcastle Rd. (opposite the hospital) Telephone: 091 520115
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:00-21:00 / Sat 09:30-18:30 / Sun & Bank holidays 12:00-18:00
10% on Prescriptions
The Eglinton Street Pharmacy Eglinton St. Telephone: 091 569090
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-19:30 / Sun & Bank holidays 11:00-19:30
10% on all products
O’Beirns Pharmacy Henry St. Telephone: 091 528917
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-18.00
10% on all products

The Student Health Unit (located upstairs in Áras na Mac Léinn) provides a confidential general practitioner service.

Most services provided by the Health Unit are FREE. Upon entering the Student Health Unit for the first time, you will be required to fill out a form. Information on the form will only be seen by Health Unit Staff to note your medical history.

The opening hours of the unit are 9.15am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

The Health Unit operates on a walk in triage basis daily with students seen on a first come, first served basis.

For further information please click here: Health Unit

Also see : Free Services, Fee Paying Services, Eu/EEA Students, Medications/Medical Histories, Confidentiality, Meningitis C Vaccine

Fiction

People who talk about it don’t commit suicide.
Suicidal people are absolutely intent upon dying.
Once a person becomes suicidal, he/she is suicidal forever.
After a crisis, improvement means that the suicide risk is over.
Suicide occurs mainly among the rich/poor.
Suicidal behaviour is a sign of mental illness.
You are either the suicidal type or you’re not.

Fact

Most people who kill themselves have given definite warnings of their intention.
Most suicidal people are ambivalent about living and dying; they gamble with death but may retain the desire to live.
Suicidal people often give indications of thoughts (sometimes before the thoughts become intentions) by words or actions.
Suicidal thoughts may return, but they are not permanent, and in some people, they may never return.
Many suicides occur in a ‘period of improvement’ when the person has the energy and the will to turn despairing thoughts into self-destructive action.
Suicide occurs in all groups in society.
Suicidal behaviour indicates deep illness, unhappiness but not necessarily mental illness. It could happen to anybody.

Signs of Suicidal Intent

Suicide risk is greater where there is:

  • Recent loss or the break up of a close relationship.
  • Current or anticipated unhappy change in health or circumstances, e.g. retirement or financial problems.
  • Painful and/or disabling physical illness.
  • Heavy use of, or dependency on alcohol or other drugs.
  • History of earlier suicidal behaviour.
  • History of suicide in the family.
  • Depression.

People often show their suicidal feelings by:

  • Being withdrawn and unable to relate.
  • Having definite ideas of how to commit suicide, and maybe speaking of tidying up affairs, or giving other indications of planning suicide.
  • Talking about feeling isolated and lonely.
  • Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness, hopelessness or loss of self esteem.
  • Constantly dwelling on problems for which there seem to be no solutions.
  • Expressing the lack of supporting philosophy of life, such as a religious belief.
Getting Help

If you know anybody who you think might be contemplating suicide, talk to them and try to convince them to see somebody from Pieta House, the Health Unit, one of the counsellors, chaplains or the Students’ Union Welfare Officer.

Pieta House West
Bishop Street
Tuam, Galway
(093) 25586

Chaplains & Student Counsellors
Áras de Brún
Extension 2484
(091) 750377

Welfare Officer
Students’ Union, Áras na Mac Léinn.
Extension 2747
(086) 3853659

Student Health Unit
Áras na Mac Léinn
Extension 2604
(091) 750451
(087) 2623997 – emergencies after 5pm

The service provided by the above is free and is totally confidential.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are complex, life threatening conditions from which people can and do get better with appropriate treatment. Eating disorders can affect anyone. They can be seen as a way of coping with unmanageable feelings.

The term “eating disorder” refers to a group of conditions characterised by:

  • Severe disturbances in eating
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Physical consequences

People experiencing an eating disorder share many of the following features:

  • They are likely to have dieted
  • Self-esteem is low
  • There is a marked over-concern with body shape, weight and size and obsession with food
  • Thinness is seen as a magical solution to problems while weight gain is feared
  • The person affected is likely to have difficulty identifying and expressing their real needs
  • They may view their body as larger than it actually is (distorted body image)
  • They may have problems around control
  • They may have found it hard to talk about their feelings and to deal with conflict
  • They may be depressed and may become isolated
  • They may experience mood swings

The disordered eating can take various forms, from fasting (self starvation) to consuming vast quantities
of food beyond what the body needs to satisfy its hunger (bingeing). Excessive exercising or self-induced
vomiting, the use of laxatives or diuretics are used to avoid weight gain (purging). All of these behaviours, sustained over time, will have a serious effect on both physical and emotional health.Because the behaviour of a person with an eating disorder revolves around food and eating, eating disorders are often mistakenly believed to be primarily about food. It is important to realise that the behaviour around eating is an outward sign of emotional distress. It may be the only way the person has of communicating their distress. Treatment of an eating disorder will therefore require attention to both the physical and the psychological aspects of the condition.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by a significant weight loss resulting from excessive dieting. Most women and an increasing number of men are motivated by the strong desire to be thin and a fear of becoming obese.Anorexics consider themselves to be fat, no matter what their actual weight is. Often anorexics do not recognise they are underweight. In their attempts to become even thinner, the anorexic will avoid food andtaking in calories at all costs, which can result in death. Anorexics usually have low self-esteem and sometimes feel they don’t deserve to eat. The anorexics usually deny that anything is wrong.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterised by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging to try and rid the body ofunwanted calories. A binge is different for all individuals. For one person a binge may range from 1000to 10000 calories, for another, one cookie may be considered a binge. Purging methods usually involvevomiting and laxative abuse. Other forms of purging can involve excessive exercise, fasting, use of diuretics,diet pills and enemas. Bulimics are usually people that do not feel secure about their own self worth. They usually strive for the approval of others. They tend to do whatever they can to please others, while hiding their own feelings. Food becomes their only source of comfort. Bulimia also serves as a function for blocking or letting out feelings.

Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by consuming large quantities of food in a very short period of time until the individual is uncomfortably full. Binge eating disorder is much like bulimia except the individuals do not use any form of purging (i.e. vomiting, laxatives, fasting, etc.) following a binge. The person who binge-eats is therefore likely to put on considerable amounts of weight over time. Like all eating disorders, binge eating is a serious problem but can be overcome through proper treatment. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge eating is thought to be almost as common among men as it is among women. It is believed that the number of people who binge-eat far exceeds the number who present for treatment. Compulsive overeating is characterised by uncontrollable eating and consequent weight gain. Compulsive overeaters use food as a way to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and daily problems. The food can block out feelings and emotions.

Why might a person develop an eating disorder?
There is no single cause, which can explain why a person develops an eating disorder. It is usually a combination of factors (biological, psychological, familial and socio-cultural) that come together to create conditions in which an eating disorder is more likely to take hold. The disorder often develops gradually as a response to an upset in a person’s life. This could be a traumatic event, a loss or major change in a person’s life, bullying or critical comments about weight or shape. The distress they feel will relate not only to the current upset but also to a store of past upsets they have never been able to express. A person without a strong sense of who they are and who is concerned with meeting the standards and expectations of others is more vulnerable. This explains why eating disorders occur so often during adolescence when identity is an issue, the opinion of peers is so important and parental expectations are resisted. Eating disorders occur in societies that promote thinness as a means of achieving health, success and happiness. Dieting has been proven to be an important risk factor in the development of eating disorders.Eating disorders do not start out as a conscious choice and are not a wilful form of ‘attention seeking’.

A few words about recovery
It is precisely because the eating disorder serves a purpose that it becomes very difficult to stop its progress. The longer it is established, the more it will take on a life of its own and take over the life of the person affected. They are caught in a bind. For many, overwhelming feelings of helplessness, guilt, shame and self-disgust become an insurmountable block to seeking help. Recovery is about taking responsibility, establishing one’s own boundaries and accepting those of others. It can only begin with the will to change. It will require commitment and it will take a lot of courage. It cannot be forced.Much sensitivity, compassion, respect, understanding and patience will be needed by the family, friends, G.P. and other members of the treatment team if a person is to be successfully encouraged and supported on their journey towards recovery.

Further Information

For more information, check the Mirror Mirror website or BodyWhys 

What is Depression?

Depression is a common disorder affecting at least 10% of the population directly at some stage or other in their lives. Everybody gets feelings of sadness or depression and for most these are short-lived and tolerable. We all feel down at times, that is normal. however, if the feeling is persisting for more than 2 weeks then maybe you need some support. It is possible you are suffering from depression. This common illness affects a huge number of young people.

It affects your thoughts, felings, physical health and behaviour day after day. As it is so common, extensive support services have been developed and are available for you when you need them. Using the available services is not a sign of weakness.

Depression is not caused by any one factor. Some life conditions such as extreme stress or grief may act as a trigger. Sometimes depresion can occur even when life is going well. Depression can affect anyone!
If depression goes untreated, it may become worse and there is a risk that the person may turn to alcohol and drugs to try and escape from the distressing feelings. This could increase the risk of suicide dramatically.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression

People who suffer from depression have a number of symptoms nearly every day, all day for at least two weeks. These always include five or more of the following list and at least one of the first two.

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling sad, depressed
  • Sleep
  • Aggressive or negative behaviour
  • Boredom
  • Change of appetite
  • Social withdrawal
  • Slowness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Physical symptoms
  • Suicidal
  • Delusions

If you have five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks it is likely that you have depression and should consult your GP immediately. If you think you may suffer from depression it is advisable to talk to someone as soon as possible. Talking to a trusted friend, a parent, a doctor or medical professional will be a step in the right direction towards recovery.
Remember the majority of cases can be treated successively but early intervention will increase the chances of success significantly.

Aware

Aware is a voluntary organisation formed in 1985 by a group of interested patients, relatives and mental health professionals, whose aims are to assist that section of the population whose lives are directly affected by depression.
Since its foundation, Aware has been working energetically to bring support to sufferers of depression and their families and to dispel the myths and misunderstandings of this devastating illness.

Aware Helpline
Locall 1890 303 302 (24 Hours)
Web: www.aware.ie

HeadsUp

HeadsUp is a mental health promotion project which aims to contribute to suicide prevention efforts by providing timely, appropriate information and support to young people. The project provides a wide range of initiatives aimed primarily at 15-24 year olds. However there are a number of secondary targets that includes community groups, fathers and workplaces. HeadsUp has an interactive website with features and fact-sheets.

Please Talk

Please Talk is a campaign that began in University College Dublin in February 2007 in response to the death by suicide of a student. In March 2008 it was adopted by all the Universities in the State.
It is organised to alert students at Universities in the Republic of Ireland to the varied and manifold important student services that are available in their University. The site provides information on supports on different campuses.

http://www.pleasetalk.ie/nuig/

The best way to beat stress is by doing something you enjoy. Always make sure you set time aside to relax and do something for yourself. Winding down and taking a break is important. It is standard maintenance, the same way you eat to counter hunger you need to relax to counter stress. There are countless ways to relax and different methods suit different people. Be careful not to turn to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs if you’re feeling frustrated as this can lead to dependence. If you do smoke, attempted to quit will only make you more irritable.

Your mind can be it’s own worst enemy when you are stressed, so why not try a few simple steps:

  • Believe in yourself
  • Base expectations on your own performance and experiences;
  • Make a check-list for the day’s goals (making sure the targets are realistic and achievable)
  • Do your best because that’s all you can do.
  • Exams have a beginning and an end, and the stress that goes along with them should end with the exam. When an exam is over, don’t go over it again just move on
  • A failed exam doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try talking to a friend or family member.

Take some time to relax

  • Listen to some music
  • Go for a walk or a run
  • Punch a pillow
  • Get a nice warm drink and sit down for a few minutes
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Get some exercise

If stress ever gets too much you can talk to one of the chaplains, counsellors, Student Health Unit staff or to the Students’ Union Vice-President / Welfare Officer.

Everyone uses drugs – whether its alcohol, nicotine, aspirin, antibiotics, caffeine, Ecstasy, heroin, amphetamine, LSD, or cannabis. We avail of whatever means to achieve pleasure, escape pain or alter our present state of mind, and this is part of our history and intellect. Attitudes to drugs vary greatly, in that the use and misuse of alcohol is often defended and even supported, while the use of illegal drugs is viewed as dangerous and unpredictable. The truth is that there is no such thing as a safe drug and all carry potential risk of physical or psychological harm as well as the risk of addiction/dependency.

Most drugs have positive and negative effects as well as potential risks. the risks increase dramatically if you mix your drugs. The positive effects usually include some type of buzz, euphoria or relaxation. The negative effects usually kick in on the come down. this tends to be greater than the initial lift. You also risk addiction, contaminated substances and of course getting caught. Hefty fines and/or imprisonment are the penalties.
Different drugs affect different people differently. if you decide to sue them,make sure you look into the potential consequences and minimise the risks. Misinformation and drug misuse can have fatal consequences.

It is impossible and indeed pointless to tell anyone what decisions to make in terms of drugs, but making an uninformed decision is unwise and often dangerous. This section will attempt to give you the basic information on the effects and dangers of certain popular drugs. It isn’t meant to condone the use of any of them but if you’re going to do it anyway, read over this and inform yourself properly first.

For more information on the effects of drugs please visit Drugs.ie

For a small word, sex can mean so many different things. It can be romantic, slow, quick, meaningful or functional but it is something that consenting adults engage in. Each person thinks of and experiences, sex differently and it’s a personal thing. Whenever you decide to engage in any sexual activity, always do so in a safe, protected and responsible manner. Never feel obliged or pressured into having sex. It is always your own choice.

Every time you have sex without using a method of contraception, you are in danger of becoming pregnant. Early symptoms of pregnancy include a missed period, nausea or ‘morning sickness’, heaviness or pain in the breasts, excessive tiredness, period type pains without bleeding or with a very slight bleed only or a slight change in the colour of your nipples. If you have any of these symptoms or have a reason to believe you might be pregnant you should have a pregnancy test immediately.

Some home pregnancy tests can be used on the day of your expected period. While these tests claim to be fool proof you will need to have your pregnancy confirmed by a doctor. If you are pregnant there are three main options open to you and you can contact the Students’ Union, Student Health Unit or the Irish Family Planning Association to discuss which would be the best for you. Crisis pregnancy counselling services are now available free of charge to students and medical card holders at IFPA clinics around the country. Counselling services are currently available in Galway. To make an appointment, telephone the IFPA at 1850 49 50 51 (price of a local call from anywhere in the country).

Nurture

Nurture is a project aimed at supporting parenting and expecting students at NUI Galway. Parenting and expecting students are invited to drop in to the Wellness Centre at the back of The Hub in Áras na Mac Léinn anytime between 12pm and 2pm every Tuesday. This is an informal gathering with tea/coffee and snacks. It will give you a chance to meet other parenting and expecting students, share your experiences and concerns, and support one another. Nurture is a project of the NUI Galway Students’ Union Enterprise Awards in collaboration with the Health Promotion Unit.

Please contact Evelyn or Cindy for more information: nurture.nuig@gmail.com

Unplanned Pregnancy

Every time that you have heterosexual sex you could become pregnant (or in the case of a man, you may impregnate someone). Should this happen, support is available for both men and women. If the due date for your period has passed, it is only then that you should do a test. The reason for this is if you do the test before your due date there’s a chance that you may get a positive result even if you are not pregnant as the hormone which is tested will be quite high before your period. You can have a test done in the Student Health Unit. Should you miss labs etc. due to morning sickness you can get a letter from the Health Unit and give it to the secretary of the Department.

Support

The Positive Options campaign is run by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency which aims to make more women of all ages aware of the help that is available to them should they have an unplanned pregnancy. The campaign does not pass judgment or push values onto people. It is concerned with the provision of accurate and non-directive information about the options available. Many agencies also provide support for men involved in an unplanned pregnancy. Free Text “List” to 50444 or visit www.positiveoptions.ie for more information.

Maintaining the Pregnancy

It is important to seek support from others during your pregnancy. It may seem difficult at first, but you will be surprised by their reaction, which is often more supportive than you think.

Finance - What you are entitled to?

One Parent Family Payment and Child Benefit are applied for after the birth at your local Social Welfare office. It is important to note that you may be able to earn a certain amount of money per week before your payments are deducted. For more information contact your local Students’ Union.

Education - Which decision is right for me?

It is important to talk to someone in your department. They will be very understanding and can help with deadlines for essays and project work. You may need to defer your exams until the following year. Your tutor however, will be best placed to advise. Try and book into the local créche as soon as possible. Contact your Welfare Officer for more details.

Foster Care

This is an option you may take if you are unsure about the option of adoption, but are unable to look after your child. It involves the placement of your child with a family or individual but you retain parental rights. It can be arranged through the Health Boards or privately, although the local health board must be notified. You might find this helpful during the first few months allowing yourself time to decide about keeping the baby or to sort out problems like accommodation.

Adoption

The decision to go ahead with your pregnancy is a big one. If you are considering adoption there are many people who can help you. These can be contacted via the Students’ Union. No matter what you decide however it is important to talk to someone about your emotions, to help you decide what the best thing is for you. The worst thing to do is make a hasty decision on your own, so please talk to someone who can help.

Termination of Pregnancy

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not one which any woman takes lightly. You will need professional counselling and friendly support. Abortion is somewhat a taboo subject in Ireland, despite the fact that 100 Irish women travel to England for abortions each and every week. This means that between January 1981 and December 1998, 76,025 Irish women had abortions abroad. There are plenty of people around who will give you non-directional and impartial advice. They will not force you to make a decision, they will help you come to your own. If you just want information, nobody will force you to say anything or make any decision. Pre and post abortion counselling are available free of charge from the Irish Family Planning Association. For more information contact the Students’ Union, the Student Health Unit or the Irish Family Planning Association. The Irish Family Planning Association gives non-directional advice on every option open to a woman during pregnancy.

Crisis Pregnancy Options

Positive Options is a brand created to promote State-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services. Its stated aim is “To make women aware of the existence of a range of high-quality, State-funded, crisis pregnancy counselling services that can assist them in finding a resolution to a crisis pregnancy.”

Positive Options does not provide medical or counselling services directly. The services promoted through Positive Options, funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, offer crisis pregnancy counselling to women with a crisis pregnancy and their partners. 15 counselling service providers are promoted through Positive Options and provide services at over 50 centres nationwide.

The Positive Options campaign message is: ‘If your dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, talking to a counsellor can help’. The campaign aims to encourage women, their partners and families experiencing crisis pregnancy to talk to a State-funded counsellor for free, trustworthy and non-judgemental counselling.

For a list of State funded crisis pregnancy counselling services, members of the public can freetext LIST to 50444 or visit the counselling services’ page on Positiveoptions.ie.

Many family doctors also provide services for women with unplanned pregnancies. Women/girls who need support and help should also think about contacting a local family doctor.
The Students’ Union Vice President/Welfare Officer can help you to get in contact with any of the agencies and is also there if you need to have a chat with somebody

There are a variey of methods of contraception available including barrier methods, hormonal methods and natural methods but there is no method of contraception that is 100% effective so make sure that you don’t incresse the risk further by incorrect use.

Some methods are much more reliable than others. Some contraceptives have side effects which depend on the person. No matter what the method you chose you need to see a GP to enure it is right for you.
In emergencies the morning after pill is available from the Student Health Unit. this should be taken within 72 hours of having sex, i.e. the sooner it’s taken, the more effective it is.

You can learn more about contraception at Think Contraception

Abstinence

Abstinence is the avoidance of sexual intercourse. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

A woman can still get pregnant

  • If a man pulls out “in time”
  • During her period
  • If it’s her first time
  • At any time in her menstrual cycle
  • In every position
  • If she washes the inside of her vagina after sex

There are a variey of methods of contraception available including barrier methods, hormonal methods and natural.

No method of contraception is 100% effective so make sure that you don’t incresse the risk further by incorrect use.

Some methods are much more reliable than others. Some contraceptives have side effects which depend on the person. No matter what the method you chose you need to see a Gp to enure it is right for you.

In emergencies the morning after pill is available from the Student Health Unit. this should be taken within 72 hours of having sex,i.e. the sooner it’s taken, the more effective it is.

The Coil - Intrauterine Contraceptive Device

The coil is a small plastic and copper device that is put into the womb by a doctor. It works by stopping the sperm from meeting the egg, by delaying the egg getting to the womb, or may prevent an egg from settling in the womb.

Combined Pill

How reliable is it?

With careful use, less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year. With less careful use, three or more women in 100 will get pregnant in a year.

How it works
It contains two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen – which stop a woman releasing an egg each month (ovulation).

Advantages
Does not interrupt sex
Often reduces bleeding, period pain and pre-menstrual tension
Protects against cancer of the ovary and womb and some pelvic infections
Suitable for healthy non-smokers up to the menopause

Disadvantages
May not be suitable for some women. A full medical history should be taken.
May be temporary minor side effects.
Not suitable for heavy smokers, smokers over 35 or for women who are breastfeeding.
Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Comments
Not reliable if taken over 12 hours late or after vomiting or severe diarrhoea, unless an extra method is used.
Some drugs may stop the pill working – a doctor or pharmacist will advise.
Pill users should try not to smoke.

Progestogen-only Pill

How reliable is it?

With careful use, one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year. With less careful use, four or more women in 100 will get pregnant in a year.

How it works
The hormone progestogen, taken at the same time each day, causes changes making it difficult for sperm to enter the womb or for the womb to accept a fertilised egg. In some women it prevents ovulation.

Advantages
Does not interrupt sex.
Useful for older women who smoke and women who cannot use the combined pill.
Can be used when breastfeeding.

Disadvantages
May be temporary minor side effects.
Periods may be irregular, with some bleeding in between or be missed.
May be less effective in women who weigh over 70kg (11 stone).
Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Comments
Not reliable if taken over three hours late or after vomiting or severe diarrhoea, unless an extra method is used.
Some drugs may stop the pill working – a doctor or a pharmacist can advise.

The Dam

Dams are used to prevent the transmission of STIS between partners during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. A dam is oblong, made of latex or polyurethane. You can also make a dam from a condom by cutting off the tip.and up one side then unrolling the condom.

Diaphragm ("cap") with spermicide

How reliable is it?

With careful use, two in 100 women will get pregnant in a year. With less careful use, two to 15 women in 100 will get pregnant in a year.

How it works
A flexible rubber device used with spermicide, is put into the vagina to cover the cervix and must stay in for at least six hours after sex.
Must be specially fitted to make sure it is the right size.

Advantages
Can be put in any time before sex (if more than three hours before, extra spermicide may be needed).
May protect against cancer of the cervix and some sexually transmitted diseases.
There are a variety of types to choose from.

Disadvantages
Putting it in can interrupt sex.
Extra spermicide is needed if you have sex again.
Fitting should be checked every twelve months and if you gain or lose more than 3kg (7lbs), or have a baby, miscarriage or abortion.
Offers little protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Comments
Some people are sensitive to spermicide.
Cystitis can be a problem for some diaphragm users. Changing to a slightly smaller or softer rimmed diaphragm or cap may help.
Do not leave in for more than thirty hours.

Male Condom

How reliable is it?

With careful use, two women in 100 will get pregnant in a year. With less careful use, two to 15 women in 100 will get pregnant in a year.

How it works
Made of very thin rubber it is put over the erect penis and prevents sperm from entering the woman’s vagina.

Advantages
Available from family planning clinics and also sold widely.
May protect both partners from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
May protect against cancer of the cervix.
Man can take responsibility for contraception.

Disadvantages
Putting it on can interrupt sex.
May slip off or split if not used correctly.
Man needs to withdraw as soon as he has ejaculated and to be careful not to spill any semen.

Comments
Use a new condom each time.
Must be put on before the penis touches the woman’s vagina.
Use a condom with a quality mark on the pack (see page 7) and check expiry date.
Oil based products, such as body oils, should not be used with male condoms as this can damage them.

Female Condom

How reliable is it?

There have been no large-scale studies to show this, but research suggests it should be as effective as the male condom.

How it works
A soft polyurethane sheath lines the vagina and the area just outside, and prevents sperm from entering the vagina.

Advantages
Can be put in any time before sex.
May protect both partners from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
May protect against cancer of the cervix.
Oil based products can be used with female condoms.

Disadvantages
Putting it in can interrupt sex.
Need to make sure the man’s penis enters the condom and not between the vagina and the condom.
May slip.
Expensive to buy.

Comments
Use a new condom each time and follow the instructions carefully.
Quality mark for female condom not yet available.
Available at some family planning clinics and for FREE in the SU Office while stocks last.

The Patch

The patch contains the female hormones oestrogen and progestogen. The hormones are absorbed through the skin to stop ovulation (an egg being released).A patch (similar to a small plaster). Each patch is worn for seven days, for three weeks, followed by a patch free week.

Many people worry about the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy but may neglect to consider the real possibility of getting an infection. It’s hugely important to protect against STI’s and this can only be done with the use of a condom (either male or female) for all intimate sexual contact. Any sexual contact (anal, oral, digital) can transmit an STI so being a virgin does not mean you don’t have or can’t get an STI.

There are 25 different types of Sexually Transmitted Infections, which include chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea and pubic lice (which can be passed even when a condom is used).In the space of ten years, there has been a 700% increase in cases of Chlamydia in Ireland (Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 2006). STIs are more commonly reported and particularly growing among 20-29 year olds (Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 2006).

Many people with STI’s do not display symptoms. It is likely that you won’t even know you have one and yet it can have long term complications such as infertility and cancer. You can also pass it on despite having no symptoms. The symptoms which may or may not accompany STIs include:

  • abnormal discharge
  • irregular periods/staining
  • pain on passing urine
  • lower abdominal pain
  • an ulcer or wart on your genital skin
  • pain during intercourse

If you are sexually active you should have regular sexual health checks. You can make an appointment in the Student Health Unit, through your GP or at a GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) clinic.
Condoms are available for free from the Students’ Union Vice-President/ Welfare Office all year round.

What kind of STIs are there?

Sexually Transmitted Infections are split into three categories

Parasites: These are passed on through skin to skin contact and sometimes through contact with infected bedclothes. Examples include pubic lice (crabs)

Viral: These can only be treated, not cured. Hepatitis,HIV, Herpes all fall under the viral category. HPV (Genital warts) can lead to illnesses like cervical cancer. HIV can develop into AIDS – an illness that is fatal.

Bacterial: These are caused by bacteria. They are problematic but curable illnesses. In many instances these STIs display no symptoms. These bacterial STIs include Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and Syphilis.

For a more detailed description of these Sexually Transmitted Illnesses, click here

STI Testing

Facilities for STI testing are available in the following health units or hospitals.

Genitourinary Medicine (STI) Clinic -Galway University Hospital
(091) 525200

We specialise in the diagnosis, treatment, partner notification and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/diseases (also called STIs or STDs).

Our service is discrete and free of charge.

Anyone can attend the clinic. We see people of all different age ranges, nationality, sexual orientation and backgrounds.

Who should attend the STI clinic?

It is important that you attend if you have any symptoms or signs of infection or if a partner of yours has been diagnosed with an infection. Symptoms in men include discomfort when passing urine, discharge and skin rashes in the genital skin. Similar symptoms can occur in women. In addition women can experience painful periods, bleeding between periods, painful intercourse and lower abdominal pain.

If you are otherwise concerned that you may have come into contact with a sexually transmitted infection but don’t have any symptoms it is a good idea to attend the clinic for a checkup.

What happens when I attend the clinic?

Initially, you will meet with a receptionist and then a health advisor.

You will be given a reference number which is unique to you. Please keep this number in a safe place for future attendances and to get results. There is often a delay to be seen by the doctor so please allow extra time for your visit and bring something to read if you like.

Next, you will be seen by a doctor. She/he will ask about any symptoms you may have and the reason for your visit. Personal questions related to your sexual health will be asked to assess your risk for infection and determine what tests need to be done. Your privacy and the sensitivity of these questions will be respected.

A genital examination is done and swabs are taken to test for common sexually acquired infections. A blood test is then usually done.

Health advisors and other staff are available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Please ask to speak with a health advisor if you would like any further information in relation to STIs or safer sex. Health advisors will also help if you need to inform a partner about a STI. Literature on STIs and safer sex is also available in the clinic.

Results will usually be available within 2 weeks.

Appointments

We offer appointments and also a walk-in service. It is important to note that there is a maximum quota that can be seen at a walk in service.

Please see schedule as follows:-

DAY CLINIC TIME
Monday Afternoon STI  treatment screening and

review clinic

By appointment  only
Tuesday Morning Vaccination clinic By appointment only
Tuesday Afternoon Results clinic Telephone

14:00 – 16:00

Attendance for results 14:00- 16:00 by appointment only
Wednesday Morning ‘Walk-In’* STI clinic Doors open at 08:50*  (Arrive earlier as maximum quota that can be seen)
Wednesday Afternoon STI review and

treatment clinic

By appointment only
Friday Morning ‘Walk-In’* STI clinic Doors open at 08:50*  (Arrive earlier as maximum quota that can be seen)
Friday Afternoon Results clinic Telephone

14:00 – 16:00

Attendance for results 14:00- 16:00 by appointment only

• Please note that the walk-in clinic operates on a “first come first served basis” with a maximum quota that can be seen at any one clinic. Please contact us prior to your visit should you need any further information.

LOCATION:

We are located in a self-contained building to the left of the main Hospital. As you enter the hospital grounds (from the university side) take the first left. Follow signs for Genitourinary Medicine Clinic, Infectious Diseases and Hepatology. We are located to the front of the hospital grounds, in front of maternity services and directly across from the shops in Newcastle Road.

Please contact us should you need further directions or assistance.

Clare
Ennis General Hospital
(061) 482382 (appointment only)
Monday: 10:00am – 1:00pm

Limerick
Limerick Regional Hospital
(061) 482382 (appointment only)
Tuesday & Friday: 10:00am – 1:00pm & 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Mayo
Mayo General Hospital
Castlebar, Co. Mayo
(094) 9021733
Tuesday: 10:00am – 1:00pm

Sligo
Sligo Regional Hospital
(071) 9170473
Tuesday: 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Tipperary
Nenagh General Hospital
(061) 482382 (appointment only)
Wednesday: 2:00pm – 5:00pm

You have rights in the bedroom.. or wherever you find yourself! These include the right to

  • accurate information about sexuality, contraception and sexually transmitted infections.
  • say no to an unwanted touch of any kind
  • stop being physical or sexual with a partner at any point
  • make decisions about sexuality, in your own time
  • express your sexuality safely
  • not be pressured into being physical or sexual
  • wear and do what you like without being sexually assaulted
  • not express your sexuality unless you want to.
  • feel safe in a physical or sexual relationship
  • feel comfortable with your actions and those of others towards you.
  • enjoy sex just for the pleasure of it
  • be treated as an equal sexual partner
  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times
  • express your desires, needs and concerns – and be listened to
  • be the one to initiate sex
  • choose your sexual partner, whether they are the same or the opposite sex
  • be treated by health care workers in a respectful, caring and sensitive way
  • contraception

The experience of being LGBT on campus depends on the person themselves; it depends on how open they are and how comfortable they are with their sexuality or gender. The atmosphere in college can play a large part too. Some LGBT students find that “coming out” in their particular situation would be unnecessary hassle and possibly even dangerous. This does not however inferthat the person is ashamed of being LGBT. You should come out because YOU want to, not because someone else thinks you should.

GiGsoc is NUI Galway’s LGBT society, which provides a safe place for LGBT students to come and meet and to socialise in a fun atmosphere. The society also runs educational events throughout the year. The society can prove to be a source of support, understanding and friendship for LGBT students.

If you encounter any kind of discrimination and harassment, whether it is spoken or unspoken, physical or sexual, from anyone in college, students or staff you do not have to stand for it. You can contact the Students’ Union Equality Officer or Welfare Officer, who are in place to make sure there is no bullying or discrimination on campus.

Any sexual act without consent constitutes rape or sexual assault. Both parties must be sure that they have the full consent of the other(s). If a person is ‘out of it’ on alcohol or another substance, legally they cannot be considered to have given consent. Dancing, dating or going home with someone does not change any of this. Both Men and Women can be raped or sexually assaulted. Rape or sexual assault is usually committed by someone the victim knows and in a familiar location. Each individual always has the right to choose with whom they will or will not have sexual relations, or the extent and nature of the sexual relations.

The most common rape drug in Ireland is alcohol. Don’t leave your drink unattended. Always be careful not to get drunk in the presence of someone you don’t fully trust and do not accept drink off them. Remember personal alarms are available from the Students’ Union Shop.
Acts of rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault.
Sometimes the victim may be too embarassed or humiliated to talk about their experience. This can be a difficult burden to carry alone.

The Galway Rape Crisis Centre offers support to both men and women. They offer support in reporting to the Gardaí if required. The centre offers counselling for people who have experienced rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Rape Crisis Centre also offers counselling to adult victims of Child Sexual Abuse.

Sexual Harassment can include

  • Physical – Unnecessary touching, pinching or brushing against another; assault; coercing sexual intercourse.
  • Verbal – Unwelcome sexual advances, demands for sexual favours, suggestive remarks, innuendoes or lewd comments.
  • Non-Verbal – Displays of pornographic, or sexually suggestive pictures and objects; leering. whistling or sexually suggestive gestures.

If you encounter sexual harassment in the University, you may report it to your dean, the registrar, Student Services or the Students’ Union Vice-President / WelfareOfficer.

You can also see the student counsellors in confidence and free of charge.

Useful contacts:

Galway Gay Helpline (091) 566134 (20:00-22:00 Tuesday and Thursday)
Galway Lesbian Helpline (091) 546611 (20:00-22:00 Wednesday)
Galway Rape Crisis Centre 1800 355355 (freephone) or see www.galwayrcc.org
An Garda Síochána (091) 538000 or for emergencies dial 999 / 112
Garda Liaisons (091) 538079 Vincent Jennings / Ciara Moran
Student Counsellors (091) 492484
Students’ Union Welfare Officer (091) 524810 extn 2747
Welfare Officer Union of Students in Ireland LGBT Rights Officer (01) 7099300
GiGsoc ( gigsoc@socs.nuigalway.ie)
Students’ Union Equality Officer (091) 524810
TENI info@teni.ie 085 1477166, www.teni.ie (Transgender Equality Network)

Generally, most medical conditions that particularly affect men won’t affect most of you until much later in life. Yet be warned, although younger men’s health tends to be generally good, bad habits such as smoking, heavy drinking and a poor diet can easily be developed while in University and will be hard to shift later in life. The best way to break a bad habit is to not let it develop in the first instance.

There are, of course, medical conditions that you may be affected by during your college years. Be mindful of your health and try not to take the “ah, it’ll be alright” attitude if a health problem does arise. Real men do get sick, and they get help so use the services at your disposal.

Also see Cancer & Testicular Cancer

Do you get enough sleep?

Unless a man gets enough sleep, his performance is likely to be sadly lacking. Not just sexual performance either. Work performance, creativity, reaction time and moods all become worse when we’re tired.
Although it’s not entirely clear why we need sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation justify trying to get enough.

How much sleep do we need?

The amount of sleep needed depends upon the individual and their age. Some men manage on four or five hours sleep a night. On average seven, eight or nine hours of sleep a night is what the majority of young and middle aged men need to stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during the day. As we get older we tend to need less sleep.

Are you getting enough?
If you can answer ‘no’ to all of these, you are probably getting enough sleep:

  • Do you sleep longer than usual on the weekends?
  • Do you feel drowsy or nod off during the afternoon?
  • Do you fall asleep within around 5 minutes of being in bed (It takes people who are getting enough sleep around 10-20 minutes to fall asleep)?

Overcoming sleep problems:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including your days off.
  • Keep your bedroom for sleep and sex, not work or TV.
  • Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  • Don’t exercise within 3 hours of going to bed.
Mental Health

In our quest for physical health, it’s easy to overlook the importance of emotional health and its effect on our body. The fact that Irish men between the ages of 15 and 34 are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in a car crash demonstrates the need for our mental health to be addressed. If you feel you suffer from mental illness, or are just feeling low, then the useful contacts in the Mental Health section should be consulted.

Incredibly there are easy things that any man can do to improve his health

  • Read a book or two – now a prescribed treatment in some health authorities for beating the blues, reading in the evening also helps relaxation and sleep;
  • Play cards and do crosswords – keeps the brain active;
  • Support a decent team – success boosts testosterone levels which is why we’re competitive. Identifying with a successful team can have the same effect.
  • Work on your relationships – a study of 6,000 blokes found that the married ones got better jobs and were healthier.
  • Go out in the sun – vitamin D, which is important for bones, teeth and happiness is boosted by sunlight (but keep the sunscreen on.)
  • Walk – it’s good for the heart and lungs and improves brain function by boosting its oxygen supply.
  • Sing – the breathing control needed to sing – however badly – makes it one of the easiest and most effective ways to shed stress.
  • Drink water – many of us don’t drink enough. The yellower your urine the more dehydrated you are.
Heart Disease

Heart disease affects many men throughout life. In Ireland it starts to present itself in men in their 50’s. If a close relative has developed heart disease in their 50s, it’s wise to have your level of risk checked. The main risk factors are smoking, raised blood pressure, raised levels of blood cholesterol and physical inactivity. Body weight is increasing throughout the developed world and more people are developing diabetes, which in turn increases risk of heart disease. We are learning more about the genetic factors associated with heart disease but for most Irish people, heart disease is related to lifestyle.

Blood pressure increases as body weight and alcohol intake increases. A diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in salt helps to keep blood pressure levels low. Healthy eating also keeps down blood cholesterol levels. Diets that are high in fat, especially saturated fats (mostly animal and dairy fats) tend to raise blood cholesterol. So it’s wise to watch your overall fat intake and change the balance the fats in your diet:

By lowering the level of your cholesterol you will greatly reduce the chance of suffering from a heart condition in later life. The level of cholesterol in our blood stream is greatly affected by what we eat. Foods that are high in saturated fats (mostly animal and dairy fats) tend to raise blood cholesterol.

Cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth , invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, and do not invade or metastasize.Cancer affects people at all ages with the risk for most types increasing with age.

The most common are:

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects both men and women and unfortunately it is on the rise in Ireland. Many skin changes will be harmless. But if you notice new or changing moles visit your doctor without delay. Spotting it early and getting it treated as soon as possible can save your life.
There are two types of Skin Cancer.

Non-melanoma
  • A new growth or sore that does not heal within four weeks
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed
  • Constant skin ulcers that are not explained by other causes.
Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer but it is also the rarest. However, the number of new cases diagnosed in Ireland each year continues to rise. Melanoma most often appears as a new or changing mole on your skin. The important changes to look for are changes in shape, size and colour of your moles:

Shape: change from a round and regular shape to ragged edges or an irregular shape.

Size: change from small (the size of the butt of a pencil) to bigger or smaller.

Colour: change from one colour to many shades of tan, brown or black, sometimes white, red or blue.

Other warning signs could be:

  • Finding an unusual sore, lump, blemish or mark
  • Change in the way an area of your skin looks or feels
  • Your skin might become scaly or crusty or begin to ooze or bleed
  • Your skin may feel itchy, tender or painful
  • Redness and swelling may develop

Some tips to protect you from the sun include:

  • Slip on a t-shirt and long shorts made of closely woven fabric
  • Slap on a hat that gives shade to the eyes, ears and back of neck
  • Seek shade especially from 11am to 3pm, when UV rays are at their strongest
  • Slop on sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and UVA protection
  • Apply sunscreen at least twenty minutes before you head out into the sun
  • Wrap on sunglasses that give UV protection

For more information on Skin Cancer check out www.cancer.ie/sunsmart/

Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer affects the cervix. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus, where it opens into the vagina. Unlike many other cancers, cervical cancer is not inherited. Cancer of the cervix is cancer of the cells lining your cervix. Cervical cancer develops slowly over a number of years. At first it develops abnormal changes, which are called pre-cancerous, and then leads to cancer itself.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

The symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding. For example, bleeding in between your periods, after sex or after the menopause.
  • Blood-stained vaginal discharge that may have a foul smell.
  • Discomfort or pain in your pelvis
  • If you have any of the above symptoms, get them checked out by your doctor. But remember they can occur in many conditions other than cancer.
Can I be screened for cervical cancer?

Testing for abnormal changes in the cervix when you have no symptoms is called screening. A National Cervical Screening Programme is available in Ireland called CervicalCheck. The Government funds this service and provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60 years. For more details, contact CervicalCheck at 1800 45 45 55

What is a smear test and how is it taken?

A smear test (sometimes called a pap test) is used for cervical screening. It is a simple procedure where a doctor or nurse (smear taker) takes a sample of cells from the cervix (neck of the womb) to look for early changes. A smear test can identify cell changes before they become cancer cells. If these cells are not found and treated, they could become cancerous over time. A smear test is a very simple procedure that takes approximately five minutes. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful. It is expected that the entire appointment should generally take about 15 minutes in the doctor’s surgery or health clinic.

You may lie on your side or on your back for your smear test. The doctor or nurse taking the test will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to hold it open. The cervix is the area where the top of the vagina leads to the uterus (womb). The doctor or nurse will use a small, specialised broom to gently brush off a sample of cells from the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be checked.

Who should have a smear test?

Women aged 25 to 60 should have a regular smear test and continue to have regular smear tests after the menopause. In women under the age of 25, minor changes in the cells of the cervix are common but invasive cancer is extremely rare but it isn’t a bad idea to get yourself checked out, no matter your age.
For details of registered smear takers, contact CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or visit www.cervicalcheck.ie.
Please have your Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.) with you when you go to have your smear test.

The best time to attend for your smear test is mid-cycle – that is 10 to 14 days after the first day of your period (if you are having periods). If you are not having periods or are menopausal, you can attend for your smear test at any time as long as you are not bleeding. After the first smear test, women aged 25 to 44 should have a smear test every three years. Women aged 45 to 60 should have a free smear test every five years once they have had two ‘no abnormality detected’ smear test results at three yearly intervals.

I am not sexually active; do I need a smear test?

Your risk of developing Cervical Cancer is lower however that doesn’t get rid of the risk altogether.

Should women who have sex with women have a smear test?

Yes, screening recommendations do not differ for women who sleep with women or lesbians regardless of their history with men.

Breast Cancer

The sooner a woman starts becoming more breast aware the better. This means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, you will recognise it. The sooner you notice a change the better, because if cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful. Get into the habit of looking at and feeling your breasts from time to time.

What changes should I be aware of?

A change in size or shape – it may be that one breast has become larger
Changes in the nipple – in direction or shape, pulled in or flattened nipple
Changes on or around the nipple – rash, flaky or crusted skin
Changes in the skin – dimpling, puckering or redness
‘Orange Peel’ appearance of the skin caused by unusually enlarged pores
Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
A lump, any size, or thickening in your breast
Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit

How to do a Breast Exam

Looking for Changes

One way of looking is by using a mirror so that you can see the breasts from different angles

  • To start, place arms at your sides then look for dimpling, puckering, or redness of the breast skin, discharge from the nipples, or changes in breast size or shape.
  • Look for the same signs with your hands pressed tightly on your hips and then with your arms raised high.

Feeling for Changes

An easy way of feeling your breast is with a soapy hand in the bath or shower. Some women prefer to feel for changes while lying down. It is recommended that you do both. Feel with the pads (not tips) of your three middle fingers. With your right hand, keeping the fingers flat and together, gently feel your left breast without pressing too hard. Then change hands and examine the other breast.

Circle: Begin at the top of your breast and move your fingers slowly around the outside in a large circle. When you return to the top, move your hand a little closer to the nipple and make a smaller circle. Do this in smaller and smaller circles until you have examined all of the breast tissue.

Lines: Begin in the underarm area. Slowly move your fingers down until they are below your breast. Move your fingers closer toward your nipple and go slowly back up, using the same motion. Use this up-and-down pattern all the way across your breast.

Wedge: Begin at the outside edge of your breast. Slowly work your way in toward the nipple, doing one wedge-shaped section at a time. Do this until the entire breast area has been examined.

For more information on Breast Cancer and screenings check out www.mariekeating.ie and www.breastcheck.ie

Testicular Cancer

210Well lads, it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself! A few conditions that affect the testicles are serious, but most are not so being obsessed or frightened for no good reason is not a good idea. Knowing what your testicles normally feel and look like makes good sense so that changes can be spotted and advice sought quickly if needed.

Note: It is normal for one testis to be slightly bigger than the other and the left testis often hangs lower than the right. Its nature’s way of letting you cross your legs!

Signs to look out for:

  •  A lump in one testicle
  • Pain and tenderness in either testicle
  • Discharge or pus from the penis
  • Blood in the sperm at ejaculation
  • A build-up of fluid inside the scrotum
  • A heavy or dragging feeling in the groin or scrotum
  • An enlargement of the breasts with or without tenderness
  • An increase in size of a testicle (one testicle is normally larger then the other but the size and shape should remain more or less the same).

How to check your testicles

  • Do the self-examination lying in a warm bath or while having a long shower, as this softens the skin of the scrotum (skin sac that holds the testicles), which makes it easier to feel the testicles inside.
  • Examine the scrotum, looking for any lumps on the skin or swellings inside.
  • Cradle the whole scrotum and testicles in the palm of your hand and feel the difference between the testicles. One is almost always larger and lying lower. This is completely normal.
  • Examine each testicle in turn, and then compare them with each other. Use both hands and gently roll each testicle between thumb and forefinger.
  • Check for any lumps or swellings as both testicles should be smooth except where the duct that carries sperm to the penis, the epididymis, runs. This lies along the top and back of the testicle and normally feels bumpy.

It is not at all uncommon to find a lump in your testicles. There are many conditions that can be easily confused with testicular cancer, and most of them are not anything as serious.

If you have found a lump, you are advised to go to your doctor for further examination.

A cancer diagnosis is made only after certain tests are done. Most people begin by visiting their family doctor (GP) because they are worried about a particular symptom. This could be a lump, weight loss or feeling very tired . If your doctor is concerned about you, he or she will refer you to a hospital. There you will see a specialist who may arrange further tests.

If you are worried and need advice/someone to talk to there is plenty of support available such as The Irish Cancer Society, The Marie Keating Foundation and Lymphoma Support Ireland. Rememer your friends and family are there to help so talk to them too.

Further Information
For more information, contact the Vice-President / Welfare Officer