September is Sexual Health Awareness month! Sexual health is about more than sex - it's being able to recognize and maintain healthy relationships, understanding your body, exploring your sexuality, promoting healthy sexual behaviors, and preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. There is a lot that falls under the comprehensive sexual health umbrella.
Here are a few tools to help you learn more about your sexual health:
The first step to any sexual activity is always to obtain consent with a sexual partner(s)
- Consenting to and obtaining consent for sexual activity is a requirement of engaging in sexual activity.
- You must ask someone if they want to have sex or be touched (kissing, hugging, etc.).
- If someone says "no", then you must stop immediately. Remember, the absence of "no" does not mean "yes."
- If you choose to engage in sexual activity, use condoms (external or internal) or dental dams (for oral sex) every time.
- Abstinence is the only 100% contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy and STI transmission.
- Birth control prevents pregnancy but does not prevent STIs - condoms and birth control work together.
- The Office of Health Promotion has condoms (internal and external), lubricant, and dental dams available for all students free of cost.
If you are sexually active, it is critical to know your status and your partners.
- Get tested regularly for STIs. Find free (and confidential) testing sites here.
- If you ever experience itching, burning, bleeding (outside of menstruating), or discolored discharge in your genital area, then see your health provider immediately.
Sexual health also includes having open conversations with your friends and partners about healthy relationships and behaviors.
- Know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Practice healthy communication skills with everyone in your life - romantic and platonic.
Remember, it is your responsibility to protect yourself and your sexual partner(s) from STIs. This month (and beyond), challenge yourself to have open conversations with your friends and sexual partner(s) about all things sexual health. Remember, sexual health is about more than just sex!
If you would like additional information, check out the resources listed below: