Physical and Sexual Health | ECSA

Physical and Sexual Health

Registration Desk Hospital photos, royalty-free images, graphics ...
Becoming a student often means moving into a new area or a change in your living situation. This can come with a long to do list, but it is important to make sure you don’t forget to register with a GP in your new area and find your local pharmacy. Additionally, registering with a dentist and an optician in your new area will help you access treatment and check-ups as and when you need them.
Each medical practice runs their appointments and registrations differently, so make sure you do your research to make sure you know how and when you can register. It is also worth checking how you can book an appointment with the GP or nurse and whether or not the practice offers open surgery hours. 
You can search for your local GP by postcode here:
You can search for pharmacies using your postcode here:
The NHS website contains a guide about health and access to healthcare which has been tailored specifically to students:
For more information on any of the below illnesses and conditions, or anything you may be concerned about.
Check out NHS Inform
Illness Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock


Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.
In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other similar conditions that affect the joints. Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children.
There are several types of arthritis with differing symptoms so it is important to seek an accurate diagnosis of you are experiencing joint pain, inflammation, restricted movement, warm red skin around the joint or weakness around the joint. 

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. If untreated, it can increase risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise this is the case. 
Going to you local GP to get a blood pressure check is recommended as it is the only way to know your blood pressure.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.
About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There's a good chance of recovery if it's detected at an early stage.
For this reason, it's vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP. The most common symptom that women notice is a lump or area of thick tissue in their breast. Though most lumps are not cancerous, checking these changes with a doctor is always the best option. 
In rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.


Diabetes is a condition that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make, dividing the condition into Type 1 and Type 2.
Symptoms of diabetes tend to be general and difficult to spot. They include feeling thirsty, tired, peeing frequently, slowly healing wounds, frequent thrush, weight loss or blurred vision. 
Contrary to popular belief, there are no lifestyle changes that can lower the risk of Type 1 Diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.


A period is the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her vagina for a few days.
For most women this happens every 28 days or so, but it's common for periods to be more or less frequent than this, ranging from day 21 to day 40 of their menstrual cycle. Your period can last between 3 and 8 days, but it will usually last for about 5 days. The bleeding tends to be heaviest in the first 2 days. However, all of this can vary for each individual.  
In the days approaching your period, it is common to experience PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). This affects different people in different ways, but frequent symptoms include mood swings, bloating, breast tenderness, food cravings, fatigue, depression and feeling easily irritated. 
Your periods may change and this does not necessarily mean that there’s a problem. Nonetheless, it is always important to check this with your GP, or a woman’s or contraceptive clinic, especially if you are experiencing bleeding between periods, after sex or after menopause. 
Free tampons, pads and menstrual cups are available from ECSA on every campus. This is a completely anonymous service and you can take as much as you like!
For lots more information check out this awesome resource by Yoppie on Menstrual Cycles and Mental Health.


Early pregnancy has many symptoms which might indicate the need to use a pregnancy test. For those with a regular menstrual cycle, a missed period is probably the first and clearest sign of possible pregnancy. Other symptoms include nausea, tiredness, sore breasts, peeing more frequently or experiencing strange tastes, smells and cravings. 
Whatever you want to know about getting pregnant, being pregnant or caring for your new baby, you should get information and support from your local GP. The NHS website also has a large amount of official information to help you.
If you are not currently trying to get pregnant, it is important to use contraception during sex. 
Free condoms and lube are available from ECSA at every campus. This is a completely anonymous service and you can take as much as you like!

Prostate Problems

Prostate problems are common, particularly in men aged over 50.
The prostate is a small gland found only in men. 1 in 3 men over 50 will experience some symptoms of prostate problems/enlargement. Many of these symptoms include difficulties or changes when urinating.
Getting prostate checks is the most effective way to monitor or diagnose prostate problems.
A local GP can spot any problems that may be caused by your prostate.

Testicular Cancer

Cancer of the testicle is one of the less common cancers, and tends to mostly affect men between 15 and 49 years of age.
Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles.
It's important to be aware of what feels normal for you. Get to know your body and see a GP if you notice any changes.
Sport & Fitness Images Royalty Free Stock Photos | rawpixel
There are lots of ways to get more active, no matter your life or physical ability. Getting more active won't just improve your physical health but will improve your mental health and hopefully have a positive impact on the environment.

Exercise and Activities

Regular physical activity is an important part of living well. People who lead an active lifestyle are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious illnesses and health conditions.
Nowadays people are generally less active day to day. Most of us drive cars or take public transport rather than cycling or walking to work, with fewer of us working in manual jobs. Many then leave work to watch TV, use phones, computers and tablets as entertainment in the evening. Too much prolonged sitting can cause serious health problems. It is thought to slow your metabolism, affecting the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat which in turn can increase your chances of getting a number serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
There is overwhelming evidence proving that we should all be more physically active. It's crucial if you want to live a healthy, fulfilling life into old age. The easiest way of becoming more active is to make physical activity part of your everyday life. There are simple ways of achieving a more active lifestyle and the more you do, the better.
The medically proven health benefits of regular physical activity include:
    up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer a 30% lower risk of early death up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture a 30% lower risk of falls among older adults up to a 30% lower risk of depression up to a 30% lower risk of dementia up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
Research also suggests that regular physical activity can improve your general mood, self-confidence and sleep quality as well as give you more energy and reduce stress levels.
Check out NHS Inform for loads more information on activities for you and your family, and in depth information.

Active Travel

Active travel simply means making journeys by physically active means - like walking, cycling, or scooting.
With over 50% of all driven journeys in Scotland being less than 5km, and 26% less than 2km, there is plenty of scope for achieving a significant shift to walking and cycling as the most sustainable forms of transport.
Walking is key to getting more people choosing to not use cars as it is ideal for shorter trips. Walking also forms part of public transport journeys – walking to and from buses, trams and trains.
Positive impacts include:
    Reduced congestion Reduced air pollution Higher quality public realm Better physical, mental and social health
Check out our Travel Hub for more information

COVID-19 Update



C-Card points are closed, you can still order condoms through their website, although you may experience delays due to increased demand. You can order here.

Sexual Health Clinics

Chalmers and Howden remain open by appointment only. For latest information on services available and how to access them click the below link.



It’s free

A c:card is a plastic card which is yours to keep and use to collect free condoms and other safer sex products on the c:card range.
This free service is managed by NHS Lothian and facilitated by ECSA as well as other partner agencies in a variety of settings – schools, colleges, universities, youth agencies, health settings, and many other places. So it should be easy to find a point that’s close to you and we will provide you with a list of all these points when you join.
The first step is to go along to to your local ECSA office to register and get your c:card. We just check that you're 16 years old or older (see more below), and we'll then give you a card.

It’s friendly

When you get to your nearest c:card point you will be seen by a trained worker who is commmitted to providing a high quality service which is friendly, welcoming and easy to use. We realise that some people find it difficult, awkward or embarrassing to access sexual health services. That’s why all c:card workers will provide you with an open, welcoming service that treats you with respect.

It’s fair

C-Card at ECSA is available to anyone aged 16 and over. There are no upper age limits – no one’s too old to use a c:card. However there may be some exceptions in other local service providers:
C:Card is for everyone in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Some services impose age limits such as C-Card+ points are for young people between the ages of 13 – 16. C-Card Direct points are generally for anyone aged 16 and over, however due to the nature of some groups such as youth centres, they may only see people between the ages of 16 – 25.
c:card is a non judgemental service which responds positively to clients sexual health needs. We are an inclusive service which is open to all people – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. All clients will be treated fairly and respectfully no matter what their gender, sexuality, ethnic origin, age etc.

It’s confidential

Any information you give to a c:card worker will remain private and confidential. This means that even if you are under 16 we won’t tell anyone else that you are using c:card.
It is vital that c:card is trusted as a confidential service. However c:card confidentiality is not absolute. In situations where the c:card worker believes that a person is or has been at risk of harm, workers will not be able to maintain confidentiality and must respond to this as a safeguarding concern.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): General advice

Coronavirus Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock


Coronavirus (COVID-19) is the illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan city, China. It can cause; a new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
People who are considered to be extremely vulnerable to severe illness will receive a letter giving them further advice, but if you remain unsure, contact your GP.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The most common symptoms are new:
  • continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
A new continuous cough is where you:
  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • are coughing more than usual
A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery.
Some people will have more serious symptoms, including pneumonia or difficulty breathing, which might require admission to hospital.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

If you’ve developed symptoms in the last 7 days, stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms even if you think your symptoms are mild. Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital. Read our stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.
Only phone 111 if:
  • your symptoms worsen during home isolation, especially if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group/li>
  • breathlessness develops or worsens, particularly if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group/li>
  • your symptoms haven’t improved in 7 days
If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have coronavirus symptoms.

Caring for a cough or fever at home

Do the people I live with need to take any action?
If you live with other people and have symptoms, they'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the start of your symptoms even if they don’t have symptoms
If they develop symptoms within the 14 days, they need to stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms began. They should do this even if it takes them over the 14-day isolation period.
Your whole household should follow our stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

Is there anything I can do to prepare?

You should start planning now for how you would manage a period of self-isolation just in case everyone in your household needs to stay at home.
Your plan might include:
  • talking to your neighbours and family and exchanging phone numbers of household contacts
  • making a plan for those in your home who are considered vulnerable.
  • creating a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, pharmacist and your GP
  • setting up online shopping accounts if possible
  • ensuring adequate supplies of any regular medication, but do not over-order/li>
  • talking to any children or young people in your household as they may be worried about coronavirus
You can find advice for supporting your child’s mental health during coronavirus through Parent Club on NHS Inform

Testing for coronavirus

You can book a test online for anyone aged 5 or over with symptoms in your household.
Key workers, and anyone in their household with symptoms, can access testing through their employer in the first instance and will be given priority.

Overseas visitors, asylum seekers and refugees

People who have come to Scotland to work, study or claim asylum (including refugees) will not pay for any coronavirus tests or treatments they need.

How the virus spreads

Because it's a new illness, we don't know exactly how the virus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses spread by droplets in coughs and sneezes.

How to avoid catching coronavirus

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading the infection by:
  • avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet.
  • avoiding direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoiding using their personal items such as their mobile phone
  • covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
  • following the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection if someone in your household has symptoms
  • making sure everyone in your household follows the Scottish Government’s advice to stay at home as much as possible and to stay away from other people
  • making sure everyone in your household follows the physical distancing advice, especially anyone in a vulnerable group
  • helping those at extremely high risk of severe illness with coronavirus to follow the shielding advice


You can't catch coronavirus from food. But it is possible to catch it if you touch an infected surface or object and then touch your mouth or nose.

Treating coronavirus

Currently, there's no vaccine and no specific treatment for the virus.
Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to help with the symptoms of coronavirus if needed, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol or NSAIDs are not suitable for you. Use these medications according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.
There’s no evidence to show a link between ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and catching or making coronavirus worse. Coronavirus helpline
NHS Scotland have setup a free helpline (0800 028 2816) to help with any questions you have about coronavirus that you can’t find on their website.
The helpline is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm each day.