Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
If you choose to be sexually active, there are numerous methods, techniques and devices that you could use to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Your provider at Student Health Services can help you find the right method that works for your lifestyle.
Different forms of contraception
- Birth control pills are an effective way to prevent pregnancy. When used correctly, less than 1 out of every 100 women will get pregnant using birth control. Keep in mind this method of contraception provides no protection against STIs.
- Male condoms, when used correctly, are highly effective in preventing pregnancy and protecting against STIs. Some may experience an allergic reaction to latex condoms, which include irritation and a burning sensation. Should you or your partner become allergic to latex, there are alternatives to the standard latex condom. Polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms are popular alternatives that offer all the protective advantages of latex condoms, without containing the proteins that trigger allergic reactions.
- Emergency contraception is available for purchase at the Bulls Country Pharmacy. Emergency contraception pills (ECP's) should be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex or contraception failure. The pill is most effective the earlier you take it. While these pills work in a similar way as birth control to prevent pregnancy, they should not be used in place of your regular birth control. Students over 18 can purchase the pill with proof of age; students 17 and younger must have a prescription or visit the student health clinic.
Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing
One out of two sexually active Americans will get an STI by the age of 25, and nearly half of the 19 million new STIs each year are among young people aged 15-24 years old. Not all STIs have symptoms so it is very possible to have one and not know it. The only way to really know if you have an STI or not is to get yourself tested. All STIs are treatable and many are curable but putting off getting care can have lasting health effects for both men and women. We can screen for all major and common STIs, including HIV, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Chlamydia, etc. If you are sexually active, be pro-active with your own sexual health and make an appointment to get tested.Learn more about STIs from the CDC website.
The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine series is highly recommended for all adolescents and young adults. It is a series of 3 injections given over 6 months. HPV is a very common infection, spread easily by skin-to-skin contact. HPV commonly causes genital warts and a few types can cause cervical and other cancers. The vaccine will greatly reduce your risk of getting HPV.
Recent media attention has questioned the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Clinical trials by the FDA show that the vaccine is highly effective in reducing cancers caused by HPV and reducing the incidence of genital warts in both men and women. Nearly 60 million doses of the vaccine have been given with the main side effect being discomfort at the injection site. A few individuals may experience dizziness, fainting or other minor effects immediately after receiving the vaccine.