The World Health Organization defines sexual health as 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.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases are very prevalent in our society. Around 10 million new STDs are diagnosed each year among individuals ages 15-24 with many STDs remaining undiagnosed. These diseases can be passed between anyone through infected fluids and skin can last anywhere from days to an entire lifetime. Below are examples of common STDs:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
If you are sexually active, be sure to get yourself tested!
Practicing Safe Sex
If choosing to engage in sexual activity it is important to practice safe sex. Doing this will help reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Safe sex is a two-step process.
Step 1: Ask for Consent
Before engaging in sexual activity with another individual it is important to ask permission from the other individual involved. Consent is when the other person agrees, or gives permission to engage in sexual activity. SMU defines consent as a:
“Voluntary, clear, continuous, mutually understandable permission, given by words or actions, regarding one’s willingness to engage in sexual activity”
Someone who is incapacitated by alcohol, drug use, injury sleep, etc. cannot give consent.
Consent cannot be procured via physical force, compulsion, threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion.
Consent to one form of sexual activity does not apply to other forms.
Consent must be given each time sexual activity is engaged. Previous consent does not carry through to different occasions.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
Step 2: Use Protection
When engaging in sexual activity it is important to use contraceptive devices to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
- Condoms are the most widely available contraceptive device and should always be worn during sex.
- Both male and female condoms are available.
- It is important to find condom that is the right size.
- Birth Control
- There are many different forms of birth control on the market today including pills, patches, implants, and physical devices. See this chart for a list of common forms of birth control.
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