Relationships and Sex

Though sexuality is sometimes uncomfortable or taboo to talk about, sexual health is just as important as any other area of health, and protecting our sexual health is crucial to our overall wellness.
 
Student Health Services at the A.P. Beutel Health Center provides wellness exams, STI testing, pregnancy tests, birth control counseling and prescriptions, as well as many additional services to support students' sexual and reproductive health. Call 979.458.8310 for more information.
 
Birth Control
If you or your partner are not interested in getting pregnant right now, it's important to choose a birth control method that works best for you. There are four general categories of contraception:

 

Hormonal (pill, implant, ring, etc.) Barrier (internal and external condoms, diaphragm, etc.) Behavioral (abstinence, withdrawal, etc.) Permanent (sterilization)

Choosing a birth control method is a very personal decision. Despite various levels of effectiveness, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to birth control. Various details including personal values, cost, accessibility, and ease of use may factor into your decision. Talk with a healthcare provider to help you choose the method that's right for you.
 
Curious about emergency contraception? Learn about your options.
 
Resources
Sexually Transmitted Infections
 STIs (also known as STDs) are infections that are spread between partners via oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Many people do not experience symptoms of STIs, which is why it's super important to get tested regularly. STIs are common, and most are easy to treat, so let's beat the stigma and protect ourselves and our partners!
 
STIs fall into three main categories:
  • Bacterial (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, etc.)
  • Viral (HIV/AIDS, Herpes, HPV, Hepatitis B, etc.)
  • Parasitic (Pubic Lice, Scabies, Trichomoniasis, etc.)
Although many are asymptomatic, the following symptoms could indicate an STI. Visit a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms:
  • Pain during sex or when urinating
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Itching around the vagina or unusual discharge
  • Genital sores, warts, or blisters
  • Any itching, sores, pain, or other discomfort in the anus (if you have anal sex) or throat (if you have oral sex)
Internal (AKA "female") and external (AKA "male") condoms, as well as dental dams, are great tools for helping to prevent STIs. STIs are transmitted through semen, vaginal secretions, blood, breast milk, and skin-to-skin contact (Herpes or Genital Warts). Condoms and dental dams do an excellent job at creating a barrier to prevent the exchange of body fluids, but they are not perfect. Open communication with your sexual partners about each other's sexual history can help you become aware of your risks. It's okay to be selfish about YOUR health!
 
Resources
Genital Health and Exams
Taking care of our reproductive systems is important for reaching our optimal wellness. Regularly check in with your body and get used to your "normal" - that way, you'll be better able to recognize when something might be abnormal or different. Genital hygiene is a topic that we often hear conflicting ideas about. Follow these guidelines to support your genital health:
DOs Wash your genitals daily with warm water. That's all they need! If you'd like to use soap, go for an unscented one to help avoid irritation. Wear cotton underwear. Cotton allows your genitals to breathe more than other fabrics do. Eat yogurt and drink cranberry juice to help prevent yeast and urinary tract infections! DON'Ts DON'T wear thongs to bed. The design of the thong can spread bacteria from the anus to the vagina and/or urethra, so it's best to wear them sparingly. Let everything breathe overnight! DON'T use a douche. The vaginal canal is self-cleansing, and douches can disrupt the natural pH and lead to infection. DON'T forget to wash the testicles and area between the scrotum and anus. This area traps sweat and odor during the day and needs regular cleaning.
 
In addition to cleanliness, some things can affect our reproductive systems beyond the surface. Some of these afflictions require screening by a healthcare provider (so schedule an annual reproductive wellness visit!), and others we can examine for at home. Follow these links to learn more about screenings and exams:
LGBTQ+
People experience a wide range of sexual, romantic, and gender identities, orientations, and attractions that are encompassed in umbrella terms such as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, plus more). Gender and attraction are very complex and individual concepts that each person experiences uniquely. Health Promotion proudly welcomes students of all identities.
 
The following definitions can help clarify some common LGBTQ+ terminology, but keep in mind that these definitions are not all-inclusive or one-size-fits-all, and language is constantly evolving.
  • Sex: biological features such as chromosomes, hormones, and internal and external anatomy that help determine if a person is female, male, or intersex
  • Intersex: individuals who display a variation in sex characteristics and do not distinctly fit into the categories of "female" or "male" [Did you know? Being intersex is about as common as having red hair! (1-2%)]
  • Gender identity: distinct from sex, gender identity refers to how a person sees themselves in terms of gender. Some people identify with genders like woman or man, while other people may identify with both genders or no gender at all
  • Transgender: people whose gender identity does not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth. Some individuals who are transgender chose to utilize hormones and/or surgical procedures as part of their transition, but not all transgender people decide to do so. Transitioning or not - your identity is valid.
  • Gay: attraction to people of a similar sex or gender
  • Bisexual: attraction to two or more sexes or genders
  • Pansexual: attraction to people regardless of sex or gender
  • Asexual: absence of sexual attraction to others
As we talk about identities, it's important to acknowledge that some people connect to labels, and other people may not feel that they fit into any one category. However your identity works for you is A-OK!
 
Resources:
Consent
Texas A&M University's definition of consent (Student Rule 24.1.6):
 
The term "consent," solely for the purposes of the Sexual Misconduct policy (see rule 24.4.20), means clear, voluntary, and positive verbal or non-verbal communication that all participants have agreed to the sexual activity.
  • Consent must occur prior to or at the same time as the sexual activity.
  • Consent must remain clear, voluntary, and positive throughout the sexual activity.
  • Consent must be given for the current sexual contact. The existence of a prior relationship or prior sexual activity does not automatically ensure consent for current or future sexual contact. There must be consent for each specific type of sexual contact throughout the sexual activity. Consent must be given by each participant involved.
  • A person must be 17 years of age or older to be able to consent to sexual activity if the other participant(s) involved are more than three (3) years of age older than that person.
  • A person who is clearly or visibly incapacitated is not able to give consent to sexual activity.
Consent sometimes becomes a concept that is overwhelming and overly legal in terminology. Sometimes, consent is perceived as too awkward for normal conversations. The reality is, consent is a big deal, but it's completely manageable for integrating into your everyday conversations. Consent is all about communication. Talk with your partners about what you're comfortable with, and listen to your partners.
 
Ways to give and ask for consent: "That feels good" "Do you like that?" "I want you to _____" "Do you want me to keep going?" Things that mean "NO": "I don't think I want to try that right now" "I guess, if you want me to" "Come on, I thought you liked me" Silence

 


Updated 2017