“Eyes on the Street”: Why Be Active In Your Community?

There are plenty of personal reasons to walk, jog, bike or otherwise actively get around: it increases one’s own ability to get exercise, it’s cheap (or free!), and can have positive mental health outcomes like lowering stress and anxiety. But, actively getting around has greater altruistic benefits as well. Many of these are centered around the “eyes on the street” principle from sociologist Jane Jacobs:

“This is something everyone knows: a well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.”

The idea here is that the more eyes you have on a given street, the greater sense of community ownership and safety. The spirit of “eyes on the street” is not so much about watching what’s around us, but rather seeing and taking a part in what is around us, and thus, shaping the community. Here are the “eyes on the street” benefits of actively getting around campus and community by walking, biking, jogging, etc.:


"Just Walking"; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons
“Just Walking”; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons

Getting to know community and community members

It sounds like a no-brainer, but actively getting around campus and the community allows us to get better acquainted with neighbors and those around us. When we choose to walk or bike versus drive, we have the ability to interact with those around us by smiling, waving, taking a minute to talk, etc. In a local example: in the Chapel Hill community, these kinds of connections with surroundings and neighbors can help bridge the UNC campus to the greater Chapel Hill community.


Neighborhood health and safety benefits

Actively getting around a community also means actively taking part in it. That means acknowledging what we appreciate about a neighborhood, and, importantly, it also means spotting things that seem like they need attention—from a large crack in the sidewalk, to a stray dog, to a jogger who has fallen. This can lead to benefits in crime-reduction and generally making things safer.


Increases community norms around activity

Actively getting around campus and community is contagious. The more people you see walking around, the more likely you might be to walk around yourself! In this way, being an active commuter is a way of changing social norms around activity.



 These are just some of the community-wide benefits of actively getting around a community. Though we’ve focused on the benefits of actively getting around, it’s important to be safe while doing so. For more information on pedestrian and cyclist safety check out links at the UNC Department of Public Safety, and the Town of Chapel Hill.

The Health Benefits of Altruism

It takes on many forms: paying it forward, peer-to-peer support, volunteering, being there for a friend or partner. Altruism, the concern for well-being of others, is a powerful part of overall wellness. Doing things for other people can help build relationships and bring meaning to life. And, if that’s not awesome enough, altruistic actions can also have health benefits! Though the spirit of altruism is helping others, it has been shown that altruistic actions have an impact both on others and the person doing altruistic things.

Here are some of the health and wellness benefits of altruism:

  • Increases satisfaction and self-esteem

On a psychological level, doing things for other people through service and volunteering has been shown to be associated with greater positive feelings, well-being, and overall satisfaction. In a study by Sawyer and colleagues, most students surveyed who volunteered for a peer education program found it a valuable activity, and nearly half of those surveyed reported increased self-esteem as a result of participating in the program.


  • Deepens knowledge

Studies of peer education – or programs where a group is taught how to offer education and support to those in similar situations (ex: college students who are trained to provide health education to other students) – show a wide array of benefits to both the educators themselves, and the persons they are educating. In one study, peer educators were found to have increased their own health and wellness knowledge, with 43% adopting healthier behaviors themselves. Interestingly, the same study also found that some (20%) students participating in peer education programs also changed their career direction as a result of participating in the program.


  • Enhances cultural acuity

By being of service to others and advocating for their needs, activities like peer support and volunteerism can help build awareness and perspective. In the study by Sawyer et al, 20% of those participating in peer education programs were more open to students’ behaviors and opinions. Altruistic activities can challenge one to think about issues that another person or group is facing, and increase empathy as a result –important components of cultural wellness.


  • Acts as a powerful motivator for individual and population-level behavior change

Mind experiment: pick a health behavior –anything from vaccination, to screening, or smoking cessation. Now think about the following questions: do you want to do this behavior for yourself? How about committing to the health behavior for the benefit of others (partners, family, friends, community members)?

For many behaviors, the desire to perform or commit to a given behavior can be based on a mix of personal versus interpersonal motivations. In a personal example, I recently thought about hand-washing in my house. Don’t get me wrong: I definitely appreciate the importance of hand washing! But, when I thought about it, the desire to wash my hands to keep my partner healthy was as much, or possibly more, of a motivator for me than me washing my hands for my own health’s sake. In yet another example, with behaviors like getting the flu shot each year, it can often be very powerful to consider the benefits both for oneself (i.e., you are less likely to get the flu), and to others (i.e., it reduces flu transmission to the population).  All in all, altruistic reasons for adopting healthy behaviors can be extremely powerful – sometimes more so than the reasons you have for adopting change just to help yourself.


Getting involved

 Interested in getting involved in service and volunteering programs on the UNC campus? There are some fantastic service opportunities through the Carolina Center for Public Service, one of Student Wellness’ peer groups, or Student Wellness’ interpersonal violence prevention trainings. Be sure to check out our recent Healthy Heels blog post on being a more conscious volunteer.

It’s important to note that the health benefits of altruistic actions are not limited to formal service and volunteering opportunities. Every day, smaller actions that consider other people’s needs and feelings or help others can also have a powerful impact for oneself and for campus culture.

Dispelling the myth: “Condoms are for single people”

We hear it all of the time on campus: “I don’t need condoms or other safer sex supplies; I’m in a committed relationship.”  In heterosexual partnerships and partnerships between two males, research demonstrates an interesting trend:  those in casual or non-committed partnerships tend to use condoms more frequently than those in long-term or committed relationships. Basically, once relationships get serious, people are less likely to use condoms.

This post is NOT about associating judgment with anyone’s choice about using a condom, but rather, to de-stigmatize condom use in all relationships and partnership situations, whether they’re committed, casual, experimental, long-term, short-term, opposite sex, same-sex, etc.

Why might people stop using condoms in committed partnerships?

The reasoning behind discontinuing condom use in committed partnerships can be quite varied, and might include:

  •   Not having sexual acts that necessitate condoms (example: two partners who decide to stop having oral, anal or vaginal sex; or in another example: two females in a partnership who only have oral sex, would use dams rather than condoms; related to this example – keep in mind that many condoms can be easily converted to dental dams for use during oral sex!)
  •   Pregnancy risk is not a concern (e.g., pregnancy is not a factor in the relationship and/or some other form of contraception is used)
  •   Condoms imply fear or non-awareness of STI status of partner
  •   Condoms imply fear or non-awareness of partner monogamy
  •   Proposing to use condoms is a breach of partner intimacy in a committed relationship
  •   Proposing to use condoms is a way of communicating one’s own infidelity or positive STD status
  •   The notion that condoms decrease sexual pleasure
  •   Condoms are uncomfortable for partner(s) (e.g., allergy, improper size)

It’s true that both partners getting tested (and treated, if necessary) for STIs/HIV is a way of reducing risk of transmission within a partnership. In theory, if both partners are negative for STIs/HIV and are monogamous, then there’s little to no STI risk in that partnership. However, this idea is complicated by the fact that many STIs are not routinely tested for in exams, and that the frequency and timing of STI/HIV testing matters (one’s status may change with each new partner, for example). All of that said, in cases of total monogamy and recent mutual partner testing/treatment, the risk of STIs may be lower.

However, most of the reasons for condom discontinuation noted above involve larger issues about how we conceptualize condom use. They highlight serious social norms and beliefs (whether factual or not) around condoms, and touch on themes of intimacy, partner communication, fidelity and trust.

Why might people continue to use condoms?

Irrespective of what type of partnership they are in, people start and continue using condoms for a variety of reasons:

  •   To continually safeguard against STIs, including those that are not routinely tested for like herpes and HPV
  •   If another contraceptive method is used, to provide additional protection against pregnancy in addition to STIs (contraceptive options like the pill, patch and ring have a typical effectiveness of only 92%)
  •   To protect against STIs, if STI status is unknown for one or both partners
  •   To protect against STIs, if STI testing occurred outside of a testing window period*
  •   Many prefer using condoms as the only prevention method
  •   Many like condoms because it can delay the time to ejaculation, and therefore keep sex going for longer
  •   Many may prefer condoms because they can increase pleasure for their partner (ribbed condoms, studded condoms, etc.)
  •   Many may prefer condoms because it allows for quicker and easy clean up afterward.
  •   Wearing condoms no matter the nature of your relationship helps reinforce the HABIT. Behaviors are habits, and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

* Side note: Window period to a period of detection in which you can identify an STI on a test. For the rapid oral HIV test, the window period is around 3 months, so if there was an exposure within 3 months of taking the test, it may not show up on the test.

Let’s Make a Pact

Let’s get rid of the judgment and association of condom use just being for casual hook-ups or non-committed relationships! In fact, let’s open up the discussion even more: there is no one contraception or protective choice best for certain types of partnerships.

  •   Condoms are not just for those in non-committed relationships who are fearful of STI status or partner fidelity
  •   Hormonal contraception is not the only viable method of protection for committed partners
  •   The IUD is not just for women who are married or in serious relationships
  •   Hormonal contraception is not just for women who anticipate having multiple partnerships, nor does it make people more likely to engage in sexual activity

There are plenty of reasons why people choose different contraceptive and protection options during sex – and choice is a beautiful thing! The important point here is that thinking thoughtfully about options with a partner is key, as is challenging the norms we set around these choices.  Trained staff at UNC Student Wellness are available to talk through contraceptive options with you through our confidential C.H.A.T.S. feature (ONYEN required), or in appointments by calling 919-962-WELL. And, condoms and other safer sex supplies are available to UNC students through online request, through drop-in at Student Wellness, and through the condom dispensers installed on campus.


Talking about sex… with a healthcare provider?

In the Healthy Heels blog, we’ve talked lots about communicating with partners about if and when one may engage in sexual activity, various methods for practicing safer sex,  talking with partners about STIs, and even the benefits of open communication around sexual health with your peers.

In honor of our “Let’s Talk About It, UNC” (LTAI – which we’re pronouncing, “la-tay UNC”) program this month, we ask: “what about talking to your healthcare provider about sex?”

Sexual health is a personal topic and oftentimes a very sensitive subject to talk about with anyone, so when you are asked sensitive questions in an exam room with a healthcare provider you’ve only met a few times, it can be a little uncomfortable.  This blog post is dedicated to de-awkwardizing those discussions: we’ll cover why it’s important to talk about sex and sexual health with a provider, expectations for some questions to anticipate, and questions you may want to ask.

Why talk about sex?

Sexual activity and sexuality are normal parts of our lives, and sexual health is an important part of overall health.  As such, it can be important for both the healthcare provider and patient to talk openly and candidly about sex and sexual health during clinical appointments or exams.

From a healthcare provider’s perspective, talking about sex during an appointment is a normal part of talking about one’s general comprehensive health behavior.  In most settings, a health care provider will ask about sexual activity routinely. IMPORTANT: This does not mean that talking about sexual behavior necessarily relates to a specific health concern or to you! Even if you have not previously engaged in sexual behaviors, or are currently abstinent for a variety of reasons, it may seem unrelated to talk about sex, but it’s important to remember that your sexual health as an integrated component of your overall health and wellness is related to other areas of health in your body and life.  Here are some examples:

  •   Some nutritional supplements or drugs that you might take for infections may have an interaction with prescription contraception.
  •   Some drugs may influence one’s sexual health – like anti-depressants influencing sexual libido.
  •   Some drugs or supplements may change body chemistry and increase risk for yeast or other infections, particularly when regular sexual activity is involved.

Healthcare providers may also ask about the type of sex you’re having and the birth sex and gender of sex partners in order to give personalized screening and prevention recommendations. For example, if someone is only having oral sex with females, they may recommend using dental dams, but if someone is having vaginal sex with males, they may recommend using condoms.

From a patient’s perspective, clinical appointments are an opportunity to voice health concerns and get reliable, personalized information on sexual health questions or concerns.

Questions to anticipate

Providers frequently ask about the following during a clinical appointment:

  • Sexual activity – whether or not you’ve had sex before
  • Number of sex partners in some period of time (currently, in the last year, etc.)
  • Types of sex (oral, anal, vaginal, other)
  • The gender of sex partners (if you have specified a sexual orientation, this question may still be asked because a person’s orientation may not always correlate with their sexual partners)
  • Use of contraceptives or barrier methods (hormonal birth control, condoms, or dental dams, for example)
  • Testing history for HIV/STIs
  • Appearance of symptoms such as rash, sores, fever, etc.
  • Alcohol or other drug use around sex
  • Pap history, including whether you have had an abnormal pap and subsequent tests
  • Pregnancy history (if you have been pregnant before and whether those pregnancies resulted in a live birth, miscarriage, c-section, or abortion)
  • Some providers will ask about sexual satisfaction too

It’s important to note that there are no right or wrong answers to any of the above, though it is important to be honest about your responses. Remember, everything you talk about with a provider is protected information.

Things to bring up or ask about

A provider may ask you lots of questions, but it’s important that you feel comfortable speaking up about sexual health during appointments as well! Even if a health care provider doesn’t ask questions about sexual health, you should feel free to bring up any of the following:

  • Any changes since your last appointment (ex: appearance of symptoms, changes in lubrication or sensation)
  • Problems or challenges using contraceptives or barrier methods (side effects, itching or burning with condoms, etc.)
  • Results of any previous tests
  • HIV/STI testing recommendations, if not already offered by the provider
  • Any questions you may have about HIV/STI testing or prevention
  • Concerns you have about any prescriptions suggested by your doctor (ex: negative experiences in the past, fear of side effects). If something affects your willingness or ability to start or complete a treatment, speak up!

Didn’t get all the answers to your questions? If you have questions about sexual health, you can always ask a trained sexual health educator at Student Wellness by using our confidential online C.H.A.T.S feature, or by emailing sexualwellness@unc.edu. You can also make an appointment to talk to staff in Student Wellness in a face to face  setting by calling 919-962-WELL.

Let’s Talk About “IT”, UNC!

Student Wellness is starting a new program this Spring called “Let’s Talk About It, UNC”, or LTAI UNC (which we’re pronouncing “la-tay UNC”).  LTAI UNC is an awareness campaign LTAIthat strives to encourage dialogue surrounding sexual wellness and connect students to reliable sexual health education and resources. College-aged adults are disproportionately affected by outcomes such as unintended pregnancy and STIs, and these outcomes can go on to impact self-esteem, academic performance, and relationships with peers and partners. Despite the availability of many resources on campuses, misconceptions around sexual health are common and many topics – from keeping relationships healthy, to STI testing, to communicating with partners – remain taboo or uncomfortable to talk about. LTAI UNC is about addressing that. And since April includes both National Public Health Week and STD Prevention Month, what better time is there to get students talking about “it”?

We believe that effective dissemination of reliable information and the degradation of social barriers such as stigma are possible by starting conversations. The idea is that meaningful gains in knowledge, awareness and healthy behavior can start with talking about “it”– with healthcare and wellness providers, friends and partners.

So, what’s “it”?

LTAI UNC focuses on sexual wellness. Specifically, we want to encourage dialogue on the topics that so frequently go unaddressed, oftentimes due to lack of knowledge, embarrassment, stigma, and other barriers. These topics include:

  •          Partnerships
  •          Contraception
  •          Sexual decision-making, including abstinence
  •          Sexual health risk reduction for STIs and pregnancy
  •          Communication

What will LTAI Do?

This month, we’ll be using in-person events and social media to connect students to resources and bust many common sexual health myths. We’ll also be posting sexual wellness themed blogs here at the Healthy Heels blog.

Start Talking

Get into the spirit of LTAI UNC by:

Coming to one of our LTAI events!

  • April 2nd– April 8th, 10AM-2PM: We’ll be tabling in the Union to bust sexual health myths, providing more information on LTAI UNC, offering some awesome giveaways from Student Wellness and the Daily Grind.
  • April 4th, 6-8PM: Let’s Talk Shabbat at UNC Hillel.
  • April 9th, 8-10PM:  Sexual Health Trivia at Steel String Brewery (Must be 21 or older).
  • April 1st through April 30th:  Talk about it, and get entered to win prizes. Re-tweet our posts, or contribute your own with the #LTAIUNC hashtag between April 1st and April 30th, you will be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a FitBit Fit or Chromecast. Only full-time matriculating UNC students are eligible.  If you are a UNC Chapel Hill student and use the C.H.A.T. S. feature between April 1st and April 30th and complete an anonymous evaluation following your chat conversation, you can elect to be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a FitBit Flex or iPod nano. Access C.H.A.T.S.  here!

Check out our resources on talking about sexual wellness:

  • Check out our blog posts about tips on having difficult conversations. There’s one for talking about STI diagnosis, another about talking with partners.
  •  Have a sexual wellness question? Ask a trained Wellness educator by making an appointment by calling 919-962-WELL, or use our confidential health assistance and talk around sexuality (C.H.A.T.S.) program. Bonus! If you use our C.H.A.T. feature this month you can volunteer to be entered to win a prize! Drawing will be {Insert date}.

Let’s start talking! The more we talk, the closer we get to making the UNC campus a healthier, safer place.

Getting and Staying Organized

Previously on the Healthy Heels blog, I wrote about selecting a method for organizing. We also asked YOU what methods you use, and how happy you are with your organizational techniques.

Well, looks like about half of you all use electronic methods only, and a third of you use some combination of the both paper and electronic methods. Many of you said you  could be a little more happy with your organization techniques, and in this blog post, we’ll present some tips for getting and staying organized.



Think about what needs to be organized

What are the important things you’d like to organize? Is it tasks, appointments, meetings, ideas, other things? Answering this question will help determine which methods you use to organize and how you choose to organize things. I found it helpful to think about all of the things I wanted to organize, and what kind of information I needed to organize for each.


Consider the time-scale of the things you need to organize

My schedule is filled mostly with appointments, meetings, calls, classes, and blocks of work time, so I found it helpful to organize day-to-day. However, as another example, my partner works on longer-term creative projects, and it’s difficult to fit those types of things into days. Instead, he chooses to organize by project.

Know thy resources

What resources do you have available to you already? What resources do others around you tend to use? If you use an email account, do you have a calendar that goes along with that account? For how long will you have this email address available to you? (Beware that school email expires after graduation, and unless you find a way to sync, you may not have access to all of your previous appointments, or your recurring reminder for rent after you leave school.)  Also, I’m not necessarily advocating for using what other people use, but if your friends are always sending you an iCal or Gmail appointment reminder for hanging out, that could persuade you to use the same option.


Know your learning style

I found that my organizational style was pretty closely tied in with my learning style. In classes, I need to physically write things as part of the learning process. For some reason, when I took electronic notes, the learning process just wasn’t the same. I found that I tended to learn way more and was more engaged in the learning process when I was taking notes down with paper and pen. This is definitely something that varies from person to person, though, so if you’re an electronic note-taker, you may be a great fit for an electronic calendar!

Pick an organizational tool that fits into your day

What are you most likely to look at every day? Try and choose a method that easily weaves into your schedule. For example, I spend most of my days at a desk working on my dissertation (I hope you see this, advisor!), so it was important for me to have something that could sit on my desk, that I would look at every day when starting my work. However, I can imagine that if I were still taking classes and bringing my laptop and/or smart phone everywhere with me, it might have been just as helpful to have an electronic method of organization.



Divide your to-do lists or tasks by category

It can be really helpful to have categories of tasks when creating a to-do list. I’ve got three running categories each week in my planner: my dissertation (again, hope you see this, advisor!), general life things, and student wellness projects (like writing blog posts). I find that it keeps my tasks tidy, and also means that when I’m working on a particular type of project – like sitting at my desk working on my dissertation – I can hone in on just one category of tasks, without getting overwhelmed by all of the other things I have to do.

Set realistic goals

Ah, the art of phrasing! When writing down a task or creating a to-do list, tasks should be things you can actually accomplish. This probably sounds obvious, but somehow every few weeks I sneak the task of “doing my dissertation” in my planner, and get frustrated because I don’t know when I can cross it off my list. Where possible, it’s helpful to use action words (“make an appointment with…”, “edit the methods section…”, “pay rent”) rather than more ambiguous tasks (“figure out what to do with my methods section…”, “understand who to make an appointment with..”).   Also, if you’re like me and you’re a sucker for crossing things off your list, don’t be afraid to list the things that are just a part of your day or week. “Paying your rent”, “Food shopping”, and “Calling Mom” are all respectable tasks, and will make you feel productive when you cross them off the list!


Sticking with your method(s) – at least for a little while

It can be clumsy when starting a new organizational method, but it’s important to try and stick to a method (or methods) for at least a little while to see how it works for you, and what specifically could work better. In my case, I found that certain things in my planner were easy to consistently keep in my planner—like tasks and appointments. However, bigger things like project planning were difficult to fit in my daily planner. I found it helpful to make explicit agreements with myself about how things were going to be organized. For example, tasks always got written into my paper planner, appointments were also written into my paper planner, but ideas for ongoing projects or event-planning go into an electronic source (e.g., my Evernote file, a dream project spreadsheet, etc).

Anticipate the cross-over

Have a system in place for crossing over between organizational tools. Ultimately, I try and keep all of my tasks and appointments written down in one paper planner. But what happens when I am planner-less and meet with someone who wants to set something up?! Or, what happens when you get an email detailing some tasks to accomplish?  In my experience, lapses in organization can happen when you don’t have a system in place for how you’ll get things into your organizational method. So, in my case, I only book appointments when I’m by my planner, and flag emails that I should follow-up on, and then write in my paper planner that I should follow up there, too.

Do you have any other tricks for staying organized? Let us know in the comments section!

Getting organized: paper or plastic?

I love organization, possibly to a fault. My planner has every single task and appointment in it by hour, my desk is covered thoughtfully studded in to-do lists, and I have a spreadsheet for almost everything in my life (dream projects, class grades for each semester, budgets, you name it).

Every year, I go through the same dilemma: should I change the way I organize? It takes just one task that doesn’t get addressed, one appointment missed, or confronting a huge pile of paper to-do lists. For me, it usually happens in the middle of a busy semester. I feel a little guilty using a paper planner and paper to-do lists to organize my days, reasoning that it’s a waste of paper when other electronic resources are available. Every year I ask myself: should I switch over to electronic?

Continue reading

Have sexual health questions? Ask us anonymously!

Got sexual health questions? Over at Student Wellness, we’re working on creating an online, anonymous chat feature exclusively for UNC students, where students can ask a trained sexual health counselor questions on topics ranging from safer sex options, to questions about STI/HIV testing, to improving communication within a partnership.

The Sexual Wellness Specialists (formerly CHECS)currently answer sexual health questions during one-on-one appointments and through events on campus.  The chat feature allows UNC students to access sexual health counselors in an additional, convenient way.

We want to know what you think! Help us make the feature better suit your needs by answering the polls, below.

Stay tuned to the HealthyHeels blog and Student Wellness webpage for updates on this project, and others!

Guest blog: Barriers to using barrier methods?

The following is a guest blog from Ruth Abebe, a current UNC undergraduate student who is interested in HIV and sexual health.

College is a time when many students are discovering and exploring ourselves and the condomsworld around us. This world may include sexuality.

Many college students choose to be sexually active, and college-aged students are particularly likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and are disproportionately affected by negative sexual health outcomes such as STI or unintended pregnancy.  According to national surveys, many college students are engaging in sexual activity without protection. In a 2011 survey of undergraduate students across the US, approximately 70% of sexually active students reported using condoms inconsistently or not at all during sex in the last 30 days. With all the information out there regarding sexually transmitted infections (STI), unintended pregnancy and ways to prevent them, why do college students still put themselves at risk?

As a college student myself, I have heard several of my peers talk about why they don’t use condoms.  But, there are ways to go beyond these barriers and make sure sexual experiences are safe and pleasurable.

1. Cost — Most of us are on a budget, and the cost of safer sex supplies like condoms is still an obstacle for students when deciding to use protection. However, this is a problem that can be easily remedied. Here at UNC, we have access to free safer sex supplies . Condoms, both male and female, and dental dams, as well as lube, are available to us through UNC Student Wellness and at several residence halls around campus. Furthermore, with the introduction of Wellness’s free condom dispensers, cost will be even less of an issue. Click here for more information on where you can currently access safer sex supplies throughout Campus Health Services.

2. Many consider only pregnancy risk—Some students only consider pregnancy as a possible consequence of unprotected sex. For this reason, many believe they will be able to protect themselves using prescription contraceptives (examples: the pill, patch, ring, IUD, etc.). However, STI risk and protection should be considered in every sexual partnership.  Aside from abstinence, condoms are the only method which can protect against both pregnancy and STIs, including HIV/AIDS. They can also be converted to a dental dam.

3. “Oral sex isn’t sex.” – Many are under the false impression that oral sex is “safe sex.” Oral sex, just like anal and vaginal sex, carries a risk for STI transmission.  Condoms and dental dams can protect against the risk of STI transmission during oral sex.

4. Pleasure Factor— Some college students don’t use condoms during sexual activity because they believe “it doesn’t feel the same.”  But you can do things to make sex with condoms feel just as good. Plus, knowing that you have the protection of a condom can help you to relax and enjoy the moment.  There are several kinds of condoms out there, including “ultra-sensitive” condoms that enhance the feeling of both parties during sex. Using lube can also make sex more pleasurable for both partners. In addition, there are condoms and other safer sex supplies geared toward making sex more pleasurable. Explore different condom styles and protect yourself!

5. “It’ll ruin the moment.” – Some college students are not protecting themselves for fear of ruining the mood of the moment. There are ways around this too. If you are having sex with someone, you can talk about condom use beforehand. Of course, I realize that not all sexual activity will be between two people in either a romantic or ongoing sexual relationship. In these cases, it’s important to place your sexual health above any potential awkwardness. Cases of STIs are on the rise, and aside from the dangers to your health, having an STI can make your sex life more difficult in the future. So, why not protect and enjoy yourself?

Despite these barriers, there are several ways to allay your fears and hesitations about using protection. As college students, preventing against STIs and pregnancy by using condoms is essential to protecting our sexual health.