First Time Sex and First Year Students: What You Should Know

For some people, college may feel like the right time to start having sex.  In truth, many college students are not sexually active, so there should be no pressure to feel like you need to have sex if you aren’t ready.  After all, abstinence is the most effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)! For those who are interested in becoming or staying sexually active, consider the following:

Practice safer sex!

Safer sex is all about reducing your risk of unintended pregnancy and STI transmission. Here are a few important ways that you can reduce your risk:

  1. Talk with your partner(s) about STIs, sexual health, and prevention before sexual activity. Having this conversation beforehand is especially important, as it can be difficult to do in the heat of the moment and will likely be less effective if you choose to talk about it afterwards.
  2. Use a latex condom or other barrier method to reduce STI transmission (in addition to a hormonal birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy) and use lubricant generously. Using a barrier method in addition to a hormonal method is referred to as a “dual method” of protection and will offer you the greatest protection possible. Lubricant is especially important from not only a pleasure standpoint, but also from a risk reduction standpoint as it reduces the likelihood of irritation, friction, and tearing of any skin or membranes.
  3. Get immunized to protect against certain STIs (including Hepatitis A, B and HPV). The HPV vaccine is now recommended for people regardless of their biological sex and can be given well into adulthood.
  4. Know your partners’ HIV/STI status and limit your number of partners, especially anonymous ones. It is important to have the conversation before initiating sexual contact, and if possible, encourage your partner to get tested together. With an anonymous partner, it can become more difficult to know their sexual health and history, and contact them in the event of a positive STI test result.
  5. Avoid risky sex practices such as unprotected intercourse and sharing sex toys without a barrier method. These behaviors are considered the riskiest because they increase exposure to bodily fluids that may transmit disease, such as semen, blood, and vaginal secretions.
  6. Get regular HIV/STI testing, which means every three to six months if sexually active, between sexual partners, or if your current sexual partner(s) test positive for an STI.
  7. Don’t share needles if injecting drugs; be sure to use clean and sanitized equipment. There is a clear link between intravenous drug use and greater risk of blood-borne diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C. Needles may also be contaminated when used for tattoos or body piercings, so the same guidance applies.
  8. Practice mutual monogamy or polyamory. To be clear, monogamy refers to having a relationship or sex with only one partner, while polyamory refers to involvement in multiple relationships or sexual contact with numerous people. Someone who is in a polyamorous relationship should still use all the guidance above to reduce their risk.

Know your resources on campus and in the community!

There are several great sexual health resources both on campus and in the community.  When it comes to getting an annual sexual health check-up or HPV vaccination, consider visiting the Wilce Student Health Center next to Thompson library.  If you are interested in purchasing up to 25 barrier methods (for $5.00 BuckID cash), check out the Condom Club.  For low-cost HIV/STI testing and treatment, visit Equitas Health or the Columbus Public Health sexual health clinic downtown.  These resources’ websites are listed below.



Student Health Services, Wilce Student Health Center

Student Wellness Center, Condom Club

Equitas Health, HIV/STI Testing Clinics

Columbus Public Health, Sexual Health Clinic