For most of us, college is the first chance we get to be truly independent. Being away from home and meeting so many new people, college is a time when a lot of us begin exploring our sexuality. While this freedom is exciting, it’s also important to be responsible--especially when it comes to your sexual health.
Consent is the most important part of any sexual encounter. But what does consent actually look and feel like? Consent should be enthusiastic, specific, and never assumed. Silence, “maybe”, and uncertainty should never be taken as consent. Additionally, consent can be reversible if you find yourself uncomfortable after giving it.
It’s helpful to think about what you are and aren’t comfortable with doing in order to set sexual boundaries and get to know yourself sexually. The most important thing to remember when setting sexual boundaries is that no matter what they are, they need to be respected and your health and safety should always be put first. Everyone has sexual activities that they enjoy and some that they aren’t so comfortable with, so it’s important to get to know yourself and what those activities are for you.
It’s also important to remember that consent isn’t just important with new partners but in relationships, as well. Never feel like you owe it to anyone to do something you don’t want to do both in the bedroom and online. Both you and your partner’s boundaries should be treated with respect in relation to sex, sexting, and practicing safe sex.
Practicing safe sex is essential for many reasons. Of course, with sexual intercourse there is always the chance of pregnancy. Getting pregnant during college was the last thing I wanted, so I spoke to my gynecologist before leaving for school about birth control options. Everyone’s brain and body react differently to birth control, so don’t be shy when asking your doctor about your options to make sure you choose a birth control compatible to your body and lifestyle.
No form of birth control is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and birth control doesn’t protect against STDs. Even if you are on birth control, continue to practice safe sex by using condoms and being open and honest with your sexual partners. When used correctly, male condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
Don’t worry if you’ve ever listened to a sexual partner who told you that condoms hurt or make sex less enjoyable--we’ve all been there. In these moments, think about your boundaries and what makes you feel comfortable in terms of your sexual health. No matter how safe you are, there is always a small chance of pregnancy after having penile vaginal sex. To save yourself weeks of anxiously waiting for your period or many trips to the drug store, we recommend always having pregnancy tests on hand for a peace of mind.
Most colleges will have plenty of sexual health resources in the health center, so take advantage of what you can (def stock up on free condoms)! You can also order condoms easily and discreetly from Lola or Lelo Hex. Ask your RA any questions you have like where you can get tested for STIs, talk to a school counselor, or access other health resources specific to your school.
The Stix Library is also a resource that is always available to you for all things sexual health. Going out to buy sexual health products and running into a classmate isn’t the ideal experience, so we ship our products right to your door in discreet packaging--not even your roommate will know what’s inside. There are also several books, podcasts, and sexual health influencers we recommend in our blog. Some of our favorites are Becoming Cliterate, The Sex Ed podcast, and This Book is Gay.
Everyone has a different college experience. No matter what yours looks like, we hope this helps you to prioritize your health and boundaries while still having fun along the way. If you ever need somewhere to turn to for sexual health resources, Stix is always here.