Sexuality & sexual health

Sexual health is an important part of your physical and emotional health. Learning more about sex and sexuality can help you have safer, respectful, and enjoyable experiences.

What can I do for myself right now?

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that spread as a result of sexual activity or contact, including oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Some STIs can even be passed by skin-to-skin genital contact1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can happen to anyone who is sexually active.

STIs can be classified as bacterial (e.g., Chlamydia), viral (e.g., HPV, HIV), parasitic (e.g., pubic lice), and fungal (e.g., yeast infection).

sexandu.ca (2012), Types of STIs-STDs

Avoiding sexually transmitted infections

There is no reliable way to judge whether someone has an STI. You can reduce the chances of getting an STI by making smart sexual decisions and getting regular testing.

  • Use a condom for vaginal, anal sex, or oral sex. You can get condoms at-cost at the Wellness Centre. Wellness Peers at the Wellness Centre can also provide more information about safer sex practices and answer any questions you might have about sexual health.
  • Enjoy non-insertive sexual activities such as hugging, kissing, and mutual masturbation.
  • Avoid having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs so it’s easier to make better decisions.
  • Get vaccinated with Gardasil or another HPV vaccine to protect against some strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Visit sexandu.ca for more information on avoiding sexually transmitted infections.

What to do if you think you have a sexually transmitted infection

Make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible to be tested for STIs. Be specific by telling the doctor the symptoms you have as this may help to narrow the diagnosis. Tests may come back as negative, but some clinical signs of herpes or human papilloma virus can take a significant amount of time to show up. Your doctor can give you more information during your visit.

If you test positive for a sexually transmitted infection, your doctor will be able to recommend treatment options and can also refer you to further support resources and services.

Contraception

Types of contraception

Choosing and using a contraceptive method correctly can help you take charge of your health and avoid undue stress from an unplanned pregnancy. There are a variety of choices that may be right for you.

Contraception is usually grouped in the following ways:

  • hormonal methods such as the pill, the patch or Nuvaring;
  • barrier methods such as condoms, spermicides, diaphragm, and the cervical cap; and
  • intra-uterine devices such as the hormonal options of Mirena or Jaydess, or the Copper IUD.

Sexual partners should also use condoms and oral dams in addition to these methods to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

Choosing the right contraception

Choosing the right type of contraception can feel overwhelming when considering the number of options available. Learn about the different types at sexandu.ca to help you make informed decisions.

Cost can be an important factor in choosing contraception that’s right for you. The AMS/GSS Student Health Plan may cover a portion of the cost of most types of prescription birth control. Check your health insurance coverage to see what you’re covered for.

Once you’ve chosen a contraceptive option, you can maximize its effectiveness by closely following the instructions.

  • Is it a pill? Take it the same time every day to ensure it is effective. 
  • Is it a condom? Learn how to use it correctly before having intercourse.

Emergency contraception

If you had sex but didn't use contraception or the method you used failed, emergency contraception is an available option. 

Emergency contraception can come in two forms:

  • progestin only pills (Plan B)
  • combined estrogen and progestin pills (Ovral)

Taking emergency contraception within 48 hours of intercourse gives you greater than 90% likelihood that you will not get pregnant. Emergency contraceptive pills can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected vaginal intercourse.

In British Columbia, you can get emergency contraception from a pharmacist, a doctor at Student Health Service, or another doctor’s office. It’s important to speak with a doctor if 48 hours have passed since intercourse and you plan on using emergency contraception.

Sexual assault

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature. It can include anything from unwanted sexual touching to rape or sexual exploitation.

People from all walks of life, all ages and genders can experience sexual assault. Most people know the person who assaulted them; they can be someone they know a little (e.g., a first date) or very well (e.g., a good friend or partner). Many people do not tell anyone of their assault, or even realize it was an assault until months or years later.

In Canadian law, sexual assault happens when one person does not freely consent to the sexual activity. Consent can not be given by someone who is intoxicated as a result of using drugs or alcohol. 

Learn more about sexual assault