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 plans 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 are in a heterosexual relationship (you're dating male(s), talk about 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 methods of birth control the health center offers to students, how much they cost, and what types of counseling and services are available for young women who have either a planned or unplanned pregnancy. Make sure you receive confidential, non-judgmental services.
Here are some questions to ask at the health center:
- What happens to the bills from my visits here or from a gynecologist in the community?
- If I'm covered by my parents insurance, will they find out about examinations and tests I've had?
- What if I need birth control?
- 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?
- What if you find out that I'm pregnant? 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?
If your birth control method fails, (for example; the condom broke, or you didn't use one) you have an option called emergency contraception, also known as the “morning-after pill”, or "EC".
Emergency Contraception (EC):
- Can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex
- Emergency contraception (EC) is a backup method of birth control for preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. Even though it's commonly called the "morning-after pill" it can actually be used within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse.
- Most EC works better the sooner you take it. Some types of EC (Plan B One-Step™ and Next Choice®) are available over-the-counter (without a prescription), for young women age 17 and over.
- The brand of EC called Ella™ (Ulipristal acetate) requires a prescription from a health care provider.
- EC is usually available from Planned Parenthood, other family planning clinics, or your college health center. Find out if it can be given to you in advance, just in case you need it.
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.
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