Let’s talk about sex (and how to do it safely)

Keep you and your partner safe physically, emotionally

SAYDEE PHOTHIVONGSA, Evergreen news editor

College is a time immersed in new experiences and finding ourselves. It is also a time in many people’s lives when they begin having sex.

Only 35.2 % of students reported having no sexual partners (oral, vaginal or anal intercourse) in the last 12 months, according to a report from the American College Health Association and the National College Health Assessment.

It is important to note that many healthcare professionals believe there is no such thing as completely safe sex because there will always be risks involved with most sexual activity. However, there are things we can do to have safer sex, according to a safer sex guide from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

College students are having sex, so let us talk about things we can do to keep ourselves and our partners safer while also having a fun experience.

First and foremost, knowing what your own body likes and dislikes is a key step in preparing for a pleasant sexual experience, said Amy Sharp, director of the WSU Women*s Center.

“The best sex you can have is with yourself,” she said. “Knowing what you enjoy, what your kinks are and being able to talk about them and being confident in that is probably the best type of prep that you can do.”

Information about self-pleasure can be found on the Planned Parenthood website.

Communication between partners is another fundamental part of having a safer sexual experience. Knowing what you want your experience to be, the birth control methods you want to use and how to use those methods properly play a huge part in preparing to have sex, Sharp said.

“It’s all about communication,” said Matthew Jeffries, director of Campus Climate and Community Building at WSU. “Consent is mandatory, and the rest is just talking about it, and I think that we’re so ashamed in our society to talk about sex that it inhibits clear lines of communication.”

It is important to complete regular checkups such as pap smears and Sexually transmitted disease testing to be able to stay in the know about our bodies and to be honest about them with our partners, Sharp said.

Planned Parenthood provides tips for talking to partners about having safer sex and how to talk about STDs for those who may be afraid or embarrassed to bring it up.

Starting these conversations can feel uncomfortable and sometimes you may want to begin this kind of conversation over text, or be sitting in a way where you do not have to look directly at each other if that will make you feel better, Jeffries said.

“I think once you start to peel away the layers, it gets easier and easier as you do it more and more often,” he said.

Actively telling each other what they like and do not like during sex is critical, Sharp said.

In addition, you have to think about what kind of safer sex supplies you will want to use and know where to get them, she said.

Students can get contraceptives such as condoms from places like the Women*s Center, GIESORC and WSU Health Promotion, Sharp said. Planned Parenthood in Pullman also offers a variety of birth control options.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a bit of a prepper in this area,” she said.

Information about other forms of birth control and how to use them can be found on the Planned Parenthood website.

Besides avoiding unwanted pregnancy and STDs, we should want to have safer and thoughtful sex to protect not only ourselves but our partners, Jeffries said.

“You want to be a respectful sex partner, … you want to have that good experience so you can keep having those good experiences,” Sharp said. “So respecting each other, listening to each otherand communication, how much healthier can that be?”