First things first: what is the Wellness Center? The Wellness Center at UBC offers students a plethora of health resources to connect with. It is a place that Communications Team Member Kavita Vallabh says hopes to offer “…ways to make your life better at UBC, or ways to make use of resources.” The Wellness Center periodically host health awareness events, such as Thrive week and the upcoming STI Free Testing clinic. The Wellness Center also serves as a source for students to buy a variety of safe sex products (cash only) at cost. Yes, you read that right. At cost.
What does “at cost” mean? Well, if you weren’t aware before this moment, the condoms and toys that you can buy at retailers (from groceries stores to the typical “sex shop”) are usually marked up in price, sometimes by a little, but more often it’s by a lot. Also, these places may not be obligated to teach you about safe product practices, as the Wellness Center staff are. Bottom line of my little spiel here is that the Wellness Center sells many great sex positive products (yay) that won’t put too much of a dent in your pocket book (double yay). I once walked in to purchase $20 worth of condoms and realized that at $0.25 each, that would mean walking out with 80 condoms! Compare that with the average grocery store condom, which can sometimes cost up to $1 each. It’s pretty clear where the better deal is.
The first time I went to the Wellness Center I was pretty nervous. Female masturbation can be a pretty taboo topic, and despite the fact that male masturbation is more culturally acknowledged, masturbation is often not talked about, as many still consider it to be embarrassing or shameful. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was interested in buying a vibrator. My curiosity eventually won out over my discomfort, thank goodness. But for some, the societal taboo around sexual health can stop them from seeking out the help to support their sexual health, education, and safety.
You tell them, Laci Green!
When I asked Kavita if she had anything to say to people who were feeling anxious or daunted about going to the Wellness Center, she offered this advice: “The center is staffed by students, so we’re kind of in the exact same boat as people coming down here to make that purchase. All the Wellness Peers are really friendly and we’re all trained to make it as less awkward as possible. Honestly, it’s a learning experience for us, too. For me personally, when I first started off it was a little bit awkward but as you get used to it and are exposed to this being a community, it gets easier.”
Personally, I also find it helpful to give any product you may be interested in a quick Google search. In my own experiences, I’ve had some issues with oddly unique batteries or vague product descriptions that I wanted elaboration on before I dropped $20+ dollars on it. It helps that some of the promo videos that companies put out for products are way more hilarious than funny cat videos. Excellent procrastination times. For myself, researching the products offered before I went made me feel a lot more comfortable.
The Wellness Center offers a variety of sex toys, for vaginas and penises (or whatever variety of non-binary genitalia you may possess). The full list of products along with pricing and some very helpful info about the products and their uses can be found here.
While the Wellness Center supports sex positivity, Kavita also brought up the need to teach safety: “Even though the sex toys are at cost and we’re promoting the sex positivity, we’re also trying to promote safety with that. With sex positivity comes being safe. Even when we make a sale, we’re always trying to emphasize ways you can be safe and use the products safely.” So remember kids: stay alert, stay safe, and don’t let societal taboos stop you from saving money on condoms or trying out a new toy or sexual aid! Have some good, safe fun out there, (in there?) everyone.