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Sexual Health

Sexual health is an important topic for college students. While some students may choose to abstain from sex, others may want to explore any may not be exactly sure where to start. It is important to become educated about your sexual health. Talk with the Health Advocates, providers at the Student Health Center, or the Counseling Center if you want to know more or have specific questions on certain issues. 

HOW to be smart? Condom sense.

If you decide to be sexually active, be smart. Use condoms properly and consistently each time you have sex, whether it is vaginal, oral or anal. Condoms are still the safest form of protection from contracting either a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or an unplanned pregnancy. You can get free male condoms from the Student Health Center, the Health Educator’s office, or the house RAs and Health Advocates. Female condoms are also available from the Health Center. If you are unsure how to use a condom, ask for a demonstration. The more comfortable you are using condoms, the higher the likelihood you will use one when having sex. 

WHAT are sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

STIs or STDs are diseases including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, viral and genital herpes, HIV/AIDS and syphilis, which exist on most college campuses. It is important to note that college students are more prone to contract STIs, due to lack of knowledge about prevention or simply because of the sexual environment on campuses. Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who has the infection. The causes of STDs include bacteria, parasites and viruses. Health problems that arise from STDs can be severe for both males and females. If you think you may have an STD, the staff at the Student Health Center offers confidential STI testing, along with a plethora of other services. Talk openly and honestly with your health care providers so we will be able to meet your needs and keep you healthy. 

Where to find help?

If you would like to get tested, or learn more about this topic openly, come by the Student Health Center and see one of the experienced nurse practitioners. Any Caltech student, whether on the Caltech Health Insurance Plan or not, can use this resource. During consultation, they will help to decide which tests are appropriate, inform you of the process involved: such as the cost, method of testing, referral and follow-up, and help with financial-related questions. Free, anonymous HIV testing is also available at the Pasadena Public Health Department, at 1845 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Results are available within 30 minutes. For more information, call 626-744-6030. 

WHAT is the HPV vaccine?

A vaccine has recently become available for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. To become more informed about the HPV vaccine, contact the Student Health Center for more information. The Caltech Student Health Center has this vaccine available to female students. 

THINK about peer pressure.

Sexual health also includes the fact that one’s desire to have sex is one’s own personal choice. When partners are involved in sexual activity, it is important that both parties involved are aware of the risks of having sex. It is also important that no one party is pressuring the other party into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do. Talk it over and make sure you have your own, clear opinions and that you stick to what you want for yourself. We are all college students, able to make our own decisions to do what’s best for ourselves.