Your Guide to Safer Sex on a College Campus!
Welcome to college, a time of exploration and self-discovery, and for many, an opportunity to explore intimate relationships. While it's essential to embrace this aspect of life, it's equally crucial to prioritize safer sex (formerly called safe sex) practices to protect both our physical and emotional well-being. Fortunately, most college campuses offer plenty of resources to help people make informed sexual health choices.
Safer sex isn’t simply about taking precaution; it's about taking responsibility for ourselves and our partners. Engaging in safe sexual practices is essential for:
- Preventing Unintended Pregnancies: Condoms, birth control, and emergency contraception are all tools people can use to help avoid unplanned pregnancies. Condoms come in so many styles and brands, and now even in 52 condom sizes. Also, although formerly condoms were known as male condoms vs female condoms, we now call them external vs internal condoms. Never heard of internal condoms? Check out some information on the FC2® Internal Condom here.
- Protecting Against STIs: It is estimated that 1 in 4 students test positive for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases, with the most common being chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. It’s important to help prevent STIs, but also to get tested regularly if sexually active. More on that below.
- Promoting Emotional Well-being: Sex should always be consensual and enthusiastic. Prioritizing safety and consent reduce the risk of regrettable or traumatic sexual encounters and contribute to a healthier emotional and mental state. Many colleges have groups dedicated to combating sexual assault and violence on campus by teaching students about informed consent and accessible resources. Learn more about consent here.
- Sex Toys: Yes it’s about safer sex, but it’s also about pleasure! Using a toy to explore your body on your own or with others can make it easier to talk to your partner about your sexual wants and needs! Check out SheVibe, one of our favorite toy makers, to find something right for you!
Student health services are a great resource for students, offering many clinical approaches to sexual health and wellness, including:
- Confidential Counseling: Many campuses have trained counselors to provide confidential help on anything from contraception and sexual health to consent and relationships. There should always be a safe space for students to discuss their concerns. If a campus does not have a support system, we also recommend RAINN, The Trevor Project, and the US Department of Health & Human Services.
- STI Testing: Free or low-cost STI testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are typically offered on campus health centers. Any sexually active person, whether you engage in one-night-stands or are in a committed relationship, should schedule regular testing, since many STIs show no symptoms. There’s also tools to help find a testing center, such as tools by the CDC and Planned Parenthood.
- Contraceptive Education: There are a ton of methods to choose from! From birth control pills to IUDs, clinicians can help you know all your options and provide prescriptions or referrals as needed. Discuss with your doctor what options make sense for your lifestyle, and they can also discuss any side effects you may experience. The more you know, the better!
- Emergency Contraception: Some on campus clinics offer emergency contraception (morning-after pill) for those who engaged in unprotected sex or had a contraceptive failure.
- Pregnancy Testing and Counseling: Students who think they may be pregnant can get testing, counseling, and referrals for further care at some universities.
A large part of promoting safer sex often involves providing access to free or affordable condoms! College campuses usually offer condom distribution programs through the student health centers, as well as residence halls, student organizations, bathrooms, and more. (If you are struggling to access this on your campus, or want to start a program, let us know! We might be able to help!)
Through our ONE® Condoms brand, we also do various fun programs! Our Momentum® loyalty program allows people to complete challenges for promoting sexual health. They can then use these points to get free condoms and swag at www.onecondoms.com. It’s our way of getting people excited about promoting condoms while also accessing free condoms, lubricant, and goodies in the process!
We also host Project Condom events in partnerships with organizations like Planned Parenthood, Boulder Valley Women’s Health, and various student organizations and groups across the country. It’s part of our mission to start condom conversations in fun & creative ways. Learn more and sign up to host an event here.
Whether you are engaging in it or not, sex is a big component of college life, and many campuses are well-equipped with resources to support your sexual health journey. From student health services and STI testing centers to free condom distribution programs, these resources should empower you to make informed decisions about your sexual health. Remember that a healthy and fulfilling sexual experience relies on open communication and consent. Embrace the opportunities for sex education and support available on your campus, and prioritize your well-being as you navigate this exciting phase of life.