HEALTH & WELLNESS: SEXUAL HEALTH & SEXUALITY
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.
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:
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.
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!
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:
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:
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!
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