College Health: Sexual Health, Relationships, and Resources

Young women's version of this guide
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college-studentsSexual Health

People make lots of decisions about their sexuality during college, including whether to abstain from sexual intercourse or to become, or to continue being sexually active. Other sexuality issues that decisions are made about are the gender of partners, the type of contraception to use, and the intensity of the relationships. You should never let others pressure you into having sex if you don’t want to. It should always be your decision to have sex. This goes for the first time, and every time.

What do I need to know if I’m sexually active, or if I’m thinking about becoming sexually active?

  • Before you decide to have a sexual relationship, you should talk with your partner and then decide if the decision is right for you.
  • Make sure to ask about your partner’s sexual history, including if he/she has been exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Get tested for STIs such as HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, but remember – there are other STIs too.
  • Discuss whether you or your partner plan on having sex with other people. Remember, the risk of getting an STI or a virus that can cause cancer or AIDS is increased if you or your partner have sexual intercourse with other people. The more partners, the greater the risk of getting an STI.
  • The only way to completely prevent getting an STI is to be abstinent (not have sex).
  • If you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid getting any STIs is to have sex with only one person who has never been exposed to an STI, and use a latex condom every time you have sex – from start to finish.

Talk to your partner about birth control

If you’re in a heterosexual relationship (you’re dating females), talk about her birth control options (condoms, birth control pills, hormone injections, IUDs, implants) and also talk about what you would do if it failed. If you feel that you can’t talk to your partner about these issues, then you should rethink whether or not you should be having a sexual relationship.

Go to your college’s student health center

Find out about what the health center offers to students, and make sure you receive confidential, non-judgmental services.

Here are some questions to ask at the health center:

  • If I’m covered by my parents insurance, will they find out about STI tests I’ve had?
  • What if I need condoms?
  • Can you tell me what happens with my lab test results? Who gets the results?
  • How do I get tested for STIs or HIV?
  • What if you find out that I have an STI? Will you tell anyone else?
  • Is there any information that you must tell my parents?
  • What happens if I have a big problem and need help telling my parents?

Sexual Orientation

College can be a time when some people try to figure out their sexual orientation. It’s also a time when some people decide to “come out”. Many colleges have support groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. There are also counselors available at your student health center if you wish to talk with someone confidentially.

Abusive Relationships

Abuse in a relationship can be both physical and mental.

  • Your partner should never threaten you or hurt you, and should never threaten to harm or harm any of your possessions or people that are important to you.
  • You should never feel afraid of your partner or controlled by him or her.
  • Your partner should never make you feel worthless or bad about yourself.

If your partner does any of these things, get help and get out of the relationship. If your partner abuses you, he or she probably won’t ever stop. You’ll be much better off without an abusive partner. You deserve to be treated with love and respect.

What should I do if I am in an abusive or violent relationship?

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you should talk to an adult that you trust, someone from your college counseling service, or call a domestic abuse hotline (see below). These people can help you with your concerns. If you ever feel that you’re in danger when you’re with your partner, or after you’ve broken up with your partner, call 911 and explain your situation. If you break up with your partner and fear that he/she may come after you, stay at a safe place where he/she can’t contact you. You can talk to the police about what you can do to legally protect yourself from abuse.

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)

Additional Resources