Sexual health is an important part of your maturity as a young adult.

The Center for Health and Wellness Health Services provides safe and confidential resources for individuals needing support and information around sexual and reproductive health, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexual experiences should be enjoyable, which is why it is important to understand how to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs can range from temporary infections that resolve themselves without medical intervention to life-threatening. Untreated STIs can cause serious damage to the reproductive systems for men and women affecting urinary function and fertility. STIs can be spread by skin to skin contact, like kissing or touching, while others require the exchange of fluids. Primarily bacterial and viral infections, STIs are some of the most common reported diseases in the United States and many are curable or treatable. To properly assess your risk for STIs and to access appropriate testing it is best to talk with your healthcare provider.

Safer Sex Tips

  • BYOC (bring your own condom). Don’t rely on a partner to have condoms, dams, or lube. Always have your own supply, and check the expiration dates before use. Temperature and light exposure can affect the integrity of safer sex supplies so always store them in a cool, dry place.

  • Role-play safer-sex conversations with friends. Brainstorming strategies for dealing with difficult responses and practicing what to say can help you to be more comfortable and assertive when the time comes to talk about it for real. The best input and advice may come from people who share your experiences and who truly understand your concerns.

  • Create basic limits and boundaries around safer sex in advance. Writing them down can help remind you that they’re important and nonnegotiable.

  • Avoid substances so you can make sound decisions. Always remember that drinking or taking drugs can interfere with your and your partner(s)’s ability to give consent.

  • Make safer sex part of sex, rather than something that interrupts sex. For example, put on external (male) or internal (female) condoms together.

  • Don’t rush into higher-risk activities. First take your time with low- or no‑risk activities, which can help build trust and communication (and also feel really good).

  • If you have a history of sexual or other abuse and feel this interferes with your ability to be safe, seek the help of a therapist, counselor, or support group to assist you in your healing and to help you select partners and sexual settings that make you feel comfortable.

  • Choose partners who don’t put all the responsibility for safer sex on you. Look for partners who are comfortable putting safety discussions on the table and who see safer sex as a priority.

  • Work toward being able to talk more candidly about sex and sexual health with friends and partners. It’s easier to be safe when you don’t feel ashamed.

  • Don’t feel bad about yourself if you find this difficult. Many of us were taught that talking about sex isn’t “romantic” or “polite.” But we can, and we do—and it gets easier with practice.