If you were to ask a sample of first-year university students what part of their social life they were most looking forward to, chances are many of them would say making new friends and maybe even finding some love. All of these new connections are a key part of the university experience for many people. However, those preconceived ideas of university social life often do not take into account a huge component: proper sexual health. It’s easy to see why people often shy away from thinking about that topic: it’s no secret that we still sometimes feel embarrassed when talking about sex. Luckily for you first years, here are some tips about how to properly take care of yourself!
Firstly, since we are now living in the age of COVID-19, you should take extra precautions when having sex with a partner. If you feel that you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or even of a milder illness, it is best to limit your sexual contact with other people. After all, the safest sex partner you can have is yourself: when in doubt, rub one out!
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. A cornerstone of sexual health is communicating honestly and respectfully with your partners: what do you enjoy doing in bed? What are your no-go zones? Sex should be a fun experience for all involved, and talking it out (as awkward as it can be) always helps. The use of protection (e.g. condoms) is also encouraged for people of all sexualities. An added benefit is that you don’t need to buy your own: all your residence floors should have areas where you can take free condoms!
What you won’t get on your floors are tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The easiest way to get tested is by setting up an appointment with a doctor at the Student Health Service on campus. These doctors can also help with any other questions you may have concerning sex, such as reproductive health care. The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends that sexually active individuals be regularly screened for STIs every three months, so it may be a good idea to set up appointments well in advance so that you won’t have to panic about fitting it into your schedule on short notice.
A last piece of advice to all of you first years: sex can be messy and complicated in the physical and mental senses, so if you feel hesitant about engaging in it in any way, remember you always have the right to set your own boundaries. It can be hard to do this, especially if you find yourself comparing your activities to those of your friends, but have faith in your own instincts about what you are comfortable with!