Do you have a questions?
Ask a sexual health educator and your question could be featured as the question of the week. Email your questions to HWPS@auburn.edu. Questions will be answered on a first come, first serve basis.
NOTE: This service should not replace the advice of a medical professional.
Before having sex with someone, ask yourself the following questions to be sure you’re making the right choices for you:
Safer sex means protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and unplanned pregnancy. Safer sex can also mean deciding to abstain from sexual intercourse or finding other forms of sexual expression that do not involve the exchange of bodily fluids.
In Spring of 2013, we surveyed students on their sexual health behaviors (as well as a whole host of other health behaviors). Here is what we found:
Of those that are sexually active:
NOTE: There is a large discrepancy between how much sex people think everyone else is having and the numbers actually reported by students.
Contraception and STI protection usage:
If you choose to engage in sexual activity, there are plenty of ways to reduce your risks for unintended consequences such as STIs, unintended pregnancy, and emotional distress.
Communication is the best sexual technique – the best way for both parties to get what they want from the sexual relationship
Learn Some Common STI Symptoms:
Genital HPV Infection: http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm
Genital Herpes: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Herpes/STDFact-Herpes.htm
Hepatitis B: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/b/fact.htm
NOTE: Remember that some STIs, such as chlyamidia, are often asymptomatic
IF YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP…
Make sure you and your partner have the same definition of abstinence.
For example, if one partner thinks abstinence means sexual touching is ok, but oral sex is not, while the other partner believes one can be abstinent and still have oral sex, serious miscommunication is likely to occur. Be clear, know and voice your limits. This will help reduce the chance of a misunderstanding. It will also make it easier to avoid situations that make it difficult to stick to your initial decision.
You might feel that having sex is the only way to get or keep a partner. Or possibly your partner may put pressure on you or keep asking you to have sex.
Postponing sexual activity does not mean sacrificing passion and intimacy from your relationships. It simply means you are willing to explore the options you have in relating to your partner. It also means taking the time for you and your partner to measure carefully your mutual investment in an ongoing intimate relationship.
Remember: Just because you have had sex in previous relationships, or even a current one, doesn’t mean you are obligated now.
Being comfortable with your physical and emotional expression in the presence of another and being comfortable with your partner’s self-expression, takes trust and confidence on your part. This trust takes time, effort and a thoughtful consideration of what the relationship is all about before involving sexual activity. Being sexually active is too important and personal a decision to let someone else, alcohol or drugs, loneliness or depression, peer pressure, previous sexual behavior, an ultimatum, or fear of rejection decide for you. If you are experiencing any kind of fear or apprehension about sexual activity, plan ahead: don’t let sex just “happen.”
Some reasons for waiting to have sex might include:
Having control over when you become pregnant is another reason to consider other sexual options. Sex without intercourse is the only absolute method of contraception. Although condoms, IUDs, diaphragms, foam, and the pill all provide various levels of prevention against unintended pregnancy, most are not foolproof. For those seeking intimacy without the potential issue of unintended pregnancy, postponing vaginal sex is a sound choice.
Birth control methods are good at preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly, so make sure your method of choice is being used correctly. Check out the difference between Perfect Use and Typical Use:
Birth Control Pills
Intravaginal Ring (Nuva Ring)
Emergency Contraception Pills
Coitus Interruptus (Withdrawal)
Natural Family Planning (Rhythm)
No Method (Chance or “Luck”)
*Number of pregnancies in 100 typical users over one year’s use
Information adapted from: http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/preventing-pregnancy/what-works-what-doesnt/
What are you comfortable with? What are you uncomfortable with? These questions are important for all relationships, including those which are sexual. The Sexual Bill of Rights is a list of rights everyone is entitled to in a relationship, centered around yourself and your partner. Knowing your rights will help you make important decisions concerning your relationship, including defining and maintaining sexual boundaries.
BILL OF RIGHTS
I have the right…
The Right to say NO!
Issues with Sex
How You Can Control the Problem
Understanding LGBT Sexual Health and Wellness Issues
This page has information for individuals who identify as LGBT.
Sexually transmitted infections are occurring more frequently and occur most often in people ages 25 and under. Some sexually transmitted infections pose lingering health problems–even if treated–including:
Who should be tested?
Where can I get tested?
Health Promotion and Wellness Services in partnership with Unity Wellness provides HIV testing.
Where: Health Promotion and Wellness Services, Student Center Suite 1206.
When: Wednesdays from 1 PM to 3 PM.
Why should I consider getting tested?
TESTICULAR SELF EXAM
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in men ages 15-34. Beginning at age 15, you should examine your testicles monthly and continue the process through your 30s.
A testicular self-examination (TSE) is important since testicular cancer can often be asymptomatic (there may be no symptoms to indicate a medical problem). However, there may be a dull pain in the lower abdomen and a feeling of heaviness and dragging. A monthly examination will allow you to become familiar with the size and feel of your testicles so any abnormality, such as a lump, can be brought to your doctor’s attention.
If detected early, testicular cancer is one of the most easily cured.
How to do a TSE
The best time to check yourself is in the shower or after a warm bath. Fingers glide over soapy skin making it easier to concentrate on the texture underneath. The heat causes the skin to relax, making the exam easier.
What are the symptoms?
In early stages testicular cancer may be symptomless. When symptoms do occur they include:
If you find any hard lumps or nodules, see your doctor promptly.
*Only your doctor can make a diagnosis.
GETTING AN ANNUAL WOMEN’S EXAM
When should I go?
Annual routine checkups are the best way to screen for potential problems. You should make an appointment with your health care provider once a year if….
It’s best to schedule your annual checkup around day 14 of your menstrual cycle, or about 2 weeks after the starting date of your period. You can also make an appointment for a GYN evaluation (not an annual exam) anytime you experience a change in vaginal discharge, burning, redness, or swelling.
If you’d like to make an appointment at the Women’s Clinic in the Auburn University Medical Clinic you can call 334-844-4416, extension 3.
If you’re interested in getting prescribed birth control pills, vaginal rings, or dep0-provera, an annual exam is required before any of these methods can be obtained.
The visit may include lab tests (such as a Pap smear and/or tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea), a breast exam and the pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is a relatively quick procedure consisting of two major parts: a speculum exam, in which your clinician visually examines your cervix and completes any recommended lab tests, and a bimanual exam, where your clinician will feel the position of your internal organs with his/her fingers. The visit will take about one hour, but the actual pelvic exam normally takes about five minutes.
Before Your Appointment
There are a few things you should keep in mind before your appointment:
Do not douche, have sex, or use tampons 48 hours before your exam. These may change the cells of the cervix, which must be left undisturbed in order to get an accurate Pap smear reading.
Make a list of questions to take with you to the exam. Your health care provider is a wealth of information and should be able to answer your questions on your body, birth control, risks associated with different sexual behaviors, and sexually transmitted infection symptoms and prevention.
What Should I Expect?
Whether you visit the Auburn University Medical Clinic or another provider, your experience should be similar to that listed above.
Breast self-examination (BSE) is one of three ways to detect breast cancer. The best cancer check is a breast x-ray or mammogram. The third way is a clinical breast exam.
BSE is easy to do. Knowing how your breasts look and feel will help you notice any changes. Early detection is the key to successful treatment.
BSE should be done monthly. Check your breasts about one week after your period. If you don’t have regular periods, do it at the same time every month.
American Cancer Society Guidelines for Early Detection
Optional, but provides an opportunity to know more about your body and your breasts.
See a doctor or nurse for a physical breast exam. It should be part of a woman’s periodic health examination. A clinical breast exam should occur about every 3 years for women in their 20s & 30s and annually for women over 40.
Women should have a baseline mammogram by age 40 and then once every year.
What is a healthy relationship?
People in healthy relationships respect each other. They are able talk honestly and freely to each other and share decisions. They trust and support each other and respect each other’s independence. Healthy relationships are all about trust, honesty and compromise.
The signs of a healthy relationship include:
View the Equality Wheel to see how partners interact in healthy relationships.
The signs of an unhealthy relationship include:
View the Dating Violence Wheel to see how power and control exhibit themselves in unhealthy relationships
How to maintain a healthy relationship
They key to maintaining a healthy relationship is having open and honest communication, keeping a life that is still your own, being loving but not overbearing and respecting your partner.
Above information is from www.loveisrespect.org.
Find more information about sexual health with these resources: