By Terrance Bynum
A wise person once said, “safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex.” Which, by the way, are offered for free on campus along with a variety of other services that ensure that students can lead a safe and fulfilling sex life. This is especially important with the dawn of the new school year upon us. Remember — what comes around, goes around.
College is the time where many individuals begin to fully explore their sexuality, and it represents a crucial step into adulthood. But in order to ensure this is an enjoyable experience, sex should be practiced safely and responsibly. The staff of The Nevada Sagebrush wants you to have complete control of your sex life by being safe while exercising your freedom. The use of caution, contraception and consent are useful for creating a fulfilling sex life.
Exercising caution in any sexual encounter can greatly reduce your risk of being affected by a sexually transmitted disease. Using protection is a key element of exercising caution, but so is regular STD testing. As an individual you have every right to an exciting sex life, but you are not fulfilling a common courtesy to yourself and your partner if you aren’t being tested regularly. The first step to making sure that you can fulfill that common courtesy: know what your options are.
Here at the university, there is the luxury of the Student Health Center. The SHC offers a complete screening and testing for STDs as well as education and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Costs vary, depending on the extent of the visit.
A blood test for HIV is also available for $12. The test is completely confidential. The SHC does not release HIV results over the phone, so this test requires you to actually return to the clinic. The SHC also provides free condoms for your convenience.
The Washoe County Health District is yet another resource that provides STD testing for a price that varies according to an individual’s income; this means that low-income individuals can often get their tests done for free. Located fairly close to the university, right off of Ninth Street, the county has a sexual health program that is composed of clinical services, community service, volunteer opportunities and data outreach.
The services that pertain to HIV/STD testing at the county are similar to the services the SHC provides. Clinical services that are provided at the county even involve counseling for STDs and HIV. There are also free options available. They bill some insurances and accept Medicaid, but not Nevada Care or Hospital Health Plans.
STDs are not the only thing that can be prevented with the right combination of caution and resources. The risk of unintended pregnancies can be greatly reduced through the use of contraception. There are many contraceptive options for both genders, including (but not limited to) hormonal birth control pills and implants, the Plan B “morning after” pill, condoms and spermicidal lubricant. Though contraceptives aren’t 100 percent effective, modern contraceptives have proven to be highly effective in prevention and are more effective when combined. It is your choice to use contraceptives, and any choice where you are putting your well-being first is valuable.
Again though, these measures don’t always work. In the event an unwanted pregnancy does occur, you still have options. The local branch of Planned Parenthood, in addition to offering pregnancy tests and contraception, also offers abortion services in the form of a pill that can be taken up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. They also offer resources and referrals if this window is missed.
To ensure that you are having the best sex possible, make sure you and your partner both give consent before engaging in any sexual acts. Consent isn’t just a simple “yes.” Just because your partner says “yes” does not mean they give consent. Make sure that your partner is fully coherent when asking if they want to have sex, or participate in a sexual act. Even though it may feel awkward at first, everyone has a right to have their boundaries and preferences respected by their partners. Remember: failure to receive consent from a partner isn’t just disrespectful, it’s a crime.
Having a partner that may or may not agree with the practices of caution, consent and contraception is important. If your partner doesn’t want to comply with something that you want them to, or tries to pressure you into something you don’t want, you don’t have to have sex with them. You deserve to have sex exactly how you want to, so set your boundaries where you want them and stand your ground when engaging in a dialog with potential partners.
You have the authority within your own life to set your own sexual standards.
The decisions you make now can impact you, as well as your current and future partners, for the rest of your lives. Signing off, The Sagebrush pulls out until next week.
The Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.