Sexual Health in College

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

College is a time when many young adults become sexually active or make a conscious decision to remain abstinent until marriage or a committed relationship. While many students may believe that they are knowledgeable about sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and birth control methods, the latest Trojan College Report Card shows that "15 to 24 year-olds account for only one fourth of
sexually active Americans, they make up 48 percent of newly diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) each year"and 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned." [1] Clearly, in the area of sexual education and health, we still have a long way to go.

The College Health Center

If you are sexually active, or planning on becoming sexually active, you want to find out what resources are available on your campus. The health center is the best place to start. Visit the center as soon as possible so you are prepared with the information you need, before you need it. Some of the questions you might ask:

  • What are the hours the health center is open? Can you drop-in or must you set an appointment ahead of time? If you must set an appointment, how long does it normally take to get an appointment?

  • Are there any educational or awareness programs or lectures during the year? For example, is there an awareness program on STDs or HIV? When are these programs?

  • Are condoms available at the health center? Are these free? If not, what is the cost?

  • Are over-the-counter contraceptives available for students? Are these free? If not, what is the cost?

  • If you are on prescription contraceptives, can you have your prescription filled on or near campus?

  • Are emergency contraceptives available? What is the cost?

  • Does the health center provide STD/HIV/pregnancy testing for students? What is the cost? If not, is there somewhere near campus that offers testing?

  • Does the health center offer ways to receive information anonymously? For example, can you email, call or text without giving away your identity?

  • What is the cost for a visit to the health center? Will my parents receive the bill? Will the bill have private information, such as diagnosis, services provided (such as STD testing ) that I would prefer my parents do not know? If lab tests are ordered, who receives the results?
    What, if any, information are you obligated to tell my parents?

Don't wait until you are in a situation where you need emergency contraception or think you may have an STD to seek out the information. Taking a few minutes to visit the health center on campus and find out basic information can help you should a situation arise later.

Talking to Your Partner

Just as you should be prepared by knowing what resources are available at your college, if you are sexually active or considering a sexual relationship with someone, you and your partner should discuss. While these conversations can sometimes feel awkward at first, if you don't feel comfortable then you should hold off on beginning a sexual relationship. Some of the areas you should discuss:

  • Has one or both of you been exposed to STDs or STIs in the past? What treatment did you or your partner receive? Are you or your partner at a higher risk of developing an STI or STD because of past exposure? What steps can be taken to prevent this?

  • Are you planning a monogamous relationship? If you, or your partner, are planning on having sex with
    other people, what steps will be taken to help keep you safe? Remember, the greater the number of sexual partners, the greater the risk of developing an STI or STD. If you don't feel comfortable having sex unless it is a monogamous relationship, say so.

  • What methods of birth control will you use? What will you do if these methods fail and you find that you or your partner is pregnant?

Remember, it is your decision whether or not to have sex. No one should force or coerce you into a sexual relationship and even if you are already in a sexual relationship, each time you have sex, both partners should consent. If you are not ready, say so. Many repercussions of having sex, such as pregnancy, STDs or HIV will last a lifetime. . If you are not comfortable talking with your partner about sex, you may not be with the right person


[1] "2011 Edition Trojan Sexual Health Report Card," 2011, Staff Writer,

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.