By now, most of us have gotten the “wear a condom” speech at least a dozen times. While this piece of knowledge will always hold true, it’s important to know that wearing a condom is not the only step you should take in practicing safe sex. First of all, not all sex involves a penis. Secondly, not all sex involves a vagina. With this in mind, we want to make sure that everyone knows what they need to know in order to be safe during any kind of sex they are currently having, and any sexual acts they may choose to engage in throughout their lives.
Certain steps to sexual health involve going to the student health center to get tested at least once a year, but others can be as small actually knowing where your health clinic is. The point is, sexual health is multifaceted, and it looks different for everyone. With that in mind, always make the choice that feels right to you and will keep you safest, no matter what.
You might roll your eyes at the thought that feeling confident will lead to safer sex, but it’s true. The more confident, comfortable, and assertive you are about what you want to do, how you want to do it, and who you want to do it with, the safer you will be doing those things. Part of consent is giving a confident and unapologetic yes. Be so confident and excited about sex that you want to seek information that will help you make the best choices for you. This way, if a situation arises that you are uncomfortable with, there is no doubt in your mind about making a change to feel safe.
Learn & Experiment
The people you have sex with and the kinds of sex you have will probably change throughout your life. This is why it is key to go out of your way to learn about different kinds of sex, in case you ever encounter a partner who wants to try something new, or a friend that needs help with something you may have learned about through your research. There’s a lot of stuff out there, so learn about how to safely engage in it before you even try it out yourself. You will encounter valuable information, which could include what lubricant to use (or not use), how to use different kinds of condoms, and so much more. One huge learning moment I had was when I came across Teen Vogue‘s Guide to Anal Sex by Gigi Engle, which is an article I think everyone should check out to be more informed, whether they’re engaging in anal sex or not.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you don’t judge anyone else’s sex life or sexual preferences. As long as the people around you are engaging in safe and consensual sexual relationships, then it’s not up to you to decide whether their choices are valid or not. Likewise, if you hear someone being negative about other people’s sexual experiences, just shut it down. An acrimonious sexual environment leads to shame, and shame can lead people to not feeling comfortable enough to ask questions, search for information, or be honest with their partners and doctors.
One of the best parts of sex is how spontaneous and unexpected it can be, and you should be able to enjoy those moments without worrying about things going wrong. Stock up on condoms of different sizes, lube, vibrators, dental dams, or whatever else it is that you need to be safe during sex. Even if right now you only use one of the aforementioned, you never know what you might suddenly want to try with your partner one day. If and when you make the choice to do something new, you should have the right tools to stay safe so that you don’t jump into a possibly dangerous scenario. Also, if you’re going out to the bar or club and think you might go home with someone else, pack a few of these things in your purse, just in case.
Know Your Resources
Even if you aren’t sexually active right now, I think everyone in college should know exactly what resources are available to them at all times. Know the location of your nearest Planned Parenthood, student health clinic, or walk-in testing center so that if you ever have a problem or even just a question, you don’t have to think twice about where to get an answer. I recently watched an amazing video by vlogger Dulce Candy, where she worked with the American Sexual Health Association to help viewers located their nearest clinic through Yesmeanstest.org. I highly recommend that you hear her candid account on why all young people need to know their resources.
[Feature image by Pexels]