Caring for one's body is one of the most important lessons college-aged adults can learn. Sexual health is part of this process. Our sexual health peer education program strives to help students at Western Michigan University make educated decisions about healthy sexual choices, including sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention.
Let's talk about sex
Discussions to have with yourself and your partner(s) before sex:
- Are you emotionally ready? What does that mean to you or your partner(s)?
- What are your personal beliefs about relationships, sex, and your body?
- How will having sex impact you and your partner(s)?
- What are your sexual expectations and how will you handle it if they aren't met?
- What is your previous sex history? Your partner(s)'?
- What are some alternatives to sex?
- What kinds of contraceptive methods are you and your partner going to use if you don't want to become pregnant? How will you protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections?
WHAT IS ABSTINENCE? AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
- Abstinence is the only 100 percent guaranteed method of preventing sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy.
- Being abstinent means no sexual behavior—including not having oral or anal sex.
- Abstinence is not rare—32 percent of college aged students surveyed nationally are abstinent.
- Communicate with your partner(s) about your choice to be abstinent. Consider alternate ways to express your sexuality with your partner(s).
- If you decide to have sex, have a plan to keep yourself safe and protected.
Consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Participants must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.
Western Michigan University encourages all members of our community to participate in the process of creating a safe, welcoming and respectful environment on campus.
essential elements OF CONSENT
- Informed and reciprocal: All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.
- Freely and actively given: Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, coercion, threats, or intimidation, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.
- Mutually understandable: Communication regarding consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate an unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity. In the absence of clear communication or outward demonstration, there is no consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to a false conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given.
- Not indefinite: Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity. Withdrawal of consent can be an expressed “no” or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain or is no longer a mutual participant. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately and all parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing further sexual activity.
- Not unlimited: Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual activity with one person constitute consent to activity with any other person. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each form of sexual contact with each participant.
- Even in the context of a current or previous intimate relationship, each party must consent to each instance of sexual contact each time. The consent must be based on mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity. The mere fact that there has been prior intimacy or sexual activity does not, by itself, imply consent to future acts.
When is consent not given?
- Consent may not be given from silence, passivity, lack of resistance, or lack of active response.
- People incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot consent.
- Someone who cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to understand the "who, what, where, when, why or how" of the situation cannot consent.
- People who are asleep or in another vulnerable position cannot consent.
How do we communicate consent?
- It's important to know that everyone communicates differently. That is why it's so important to be clear about you and your partner(s)' boundaries.
- Ask yourself: Have I expressed what I want? Do I know what my partner wants? Am I certain consent has been given?
- Sometimes giving options can make your partner(s) feel more comfortable being honest. "Do you want to do this or would you like to stop?"
- Are you choosing to have vaginal, oral or anal sex? There are many barrier methods that can prevent STI's and unwanted pregnancies, including male condoms, female condoms, and dental dams.
- Male condoms are available at Sindecuse Health Center's Pharmacy starting at 15 condoms for $5 (plus tax).
- If you live in the residence halls, order condoms online and have them delivered.
- Other than abstinence, condom use is the most effective method of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
- There are currently more than 100 kinds of condoms on the market in various sizes and colors, making it more likely that you will find one to fit your needs.
How to properly put on an external condom
- Check the expiration date. The average shelf life is two years.
- Check for an air bubble in the package.
- Gently tear open package (not with teeth, knife, or scissors).
- Be sure the rolled up ring is on the outside. If rolled on backwards, throw condom away and start over.
- Place on tip of erect penis; pinching an airless half-inch reservoir tip for semen.
- Gently roll condom downward to the base of the penis.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR external CONDOM USE
- Hold the condom at base of penis while inserting.
- Use plenty of water based lubrication to prevent tearing. Oil based lubricants weaken the material.
- Do not store condoms in a place they may get very hot or very cold (like in your wallet or back pocket). This will degrade or weaken the latex.
- Do not double up. The friction of two condoms against each other can make the condoms more likely to rip or tear.
How to properly dispose of a condom
- While penis is still erect, hold condom in place and pull out slowly.
- Turn and move away from partner to avoid spilling any semen.
- Dispose condom into waste basket. Do not dispose a condom in the toilet, as this can cause plumbing issues.
- Wash hands with soap and water and any other body parts that came into contact with semen before returning to partner.