Sexual Health and Healthy Relationships

The college years should be an exciting time of meeting new people, discovering new opportunities, experiencing what the campus has to offer, and finding out what career path you will eventually take. These years can also bring about both positive and negative experiences regarding dating and intimate relationships.  Being aware of the risks involved with intimate sexual activity and knowing about the types of protection available will help you prevent the negative consequences of unhealthy sexual practices.  Entering college with a positive attitude and adequate education and resources will help you make healthy and informed decisions about your sexual health and intimate relationships.

Go Ask Alice is an online question and answer site that enables readers to submit health questions on almost any topic imaginable. Teams of experts provide accurate, accessible, reliable and culturally-competent health information that equip readers to make informed decisions on anything from antidepressants, to eating right, to yawning. The site originated at Columbia University in the early 1990s and is considered a renowned health question and answer Internet resource.

Sexual Health Resources

What is the Difference Between STDs and STIs?

STDs are Sexually Transmitted Diseases while STIs are Sexually Transmitted Infections.  STIs are transmitted through sexual activity (vaginal, oral, & anal) and as a result of the infection, these STIs can become STDs overtime.  This process is dependent on numerous factors:  genetics, immunity, environment, individual make-up, continual exposure, treatment, the possibility of multiple STIs, continual sexual activity without protection.

Specific types of Bacterial STDs:

Specific types of Viral STDs:

To view photos of expressed STDs, click here.

  • Warning: photos are explicit, real, and may be sensitive to some viewers.

STD Quick Facts

General STD Information

STDs are full of sneaky germs and bacteria who like to hide and grow in the most secret and sensitive parts of the human body.  Although unwanted and unwelcome, if you come in contact with an STD, your risk of developing it is high.  Be Protected!  Be Informed!  Here are some quick facts:

  • All STDs like:  Dark, warm, moist body surfaces                                                            
  • All STDs hate:  Light, cold, dry body surfaces
  • To learn more about STDs, check out Fast Facts from ASHA
Prevention and Protection

Abstinence is the best and only 100% way to prevent STDs.  It is important to have open communication with your partner about any past or present STDs.

Are you sexually active?
Use protection to prevent against coming in contact with and developing an STD.

Safety in Numbers
Oral contraception does not prevent against any STDs. It is important to couple this contraceptive devise with condoms or another form of protection.

Vaccinations

Other Information

Strategies for STD Prevention

Want to learn how to protect yourself against STDs?  Below is a quick fool-proof guide to stay clean and safe when concerning your sexual health!

  • Always use condoms.  Although they are not 100% effective, they provide the MOST protection!
  • Abstinence
  • Avoid situations that may make you vulnerable to unwanted or unprotected sex, stay busy, monitor reading/TV/internet, select friends with similar values, avoid alcohol
  • Mutual monogamy with uninfected partner
  • Related information:  Prevention Tips
  • There are many ways to prevent STDs.  This How to Guide from IWannaKnow.org explains many technniques, from expressing love without sex to the use of both female and male contraceptive devices.
Risk Factors
Are you at risk for developing an STD?  Check out the list of risk factors below and evaluate your current sexual health status.
  • Feelings of invulnerability
  • Multiple Partners
  • Failure to use condoms
  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of knowledge on subject
  • STD Treatment

Reduce Your Risk!

How do I reduce my risk of developing an STD?  Below is a list of ways to help lessen your chances.

  • Avoid contact with body fluids
  • Avoid contact with infected skin
  • Educate yourself
  • Use latex condoms-FREE
  • Do not practice anal sex
  • Avoid alcohol & other drug use
  • How do I Reduce STD Risk?_
STD Health Disparities

For a visual of the STD distribution among the United States by age, location, genders, and race, click on the links below, then click on the Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis tabs to compare the rates.

Each year, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) announces the STDs status in America.  Statistics show that Chlamydia infections are increasing.

Get Tested

A large part of healthy sexual health is protection and prevention of STDs.  One of the best ways of doing this is by getting tested.  If you, or the person you are with, are sexually active or thinking about becoming sexually active, consider the option of getting tested for STDs. This could help prevent the spread of any unknown and/or unwanted STDs.

  • Females!  Many women think that their "yearly exam" at the OB/GYN tests for
    STDs, but this is not the case.  Ask your doctor to test for these if you are
    interested or concerned.  Don't be shy, it's their job!

Related Links

Sexual Activity
Sex is the sum of the structural, functional, and behavioral characteristics of organisms that are involved in reproduction  marked by the union of gametes and that distinguish males and females.

Especially in the college environment, we tend to hear a lot of stories and information about STDs.  It’s time to be able to differentiate between the facts and rumors!

What is Alabama Doing and Related Links
What's Alabama Doing: Alabama State Profile

How Does the US Compare to Other Countries: Country’s of the World Profiles

Related Links

Healthy Relationship Resources

Commmunication

Women and men express their feelings in different ways.  Effective communication is important for a healthy and loving relationship. 

When each partner gets what they want from the relationship, it is then successful.  The Four “Simple” Communication Tools by Steve Stewart, author of 52 Simple Rules to Improve Your Relationship was developed to help couples communicate with each other more effectively:

  • Ask for what you want
  • Show your partner what you want to receive
  • Learn to negotiate
  • Learn to modify what you want
More than Just Words-- Types of Communication
Verbal
  • Self-disclosure:  When we revel information we normally wouldn’t because of the risks involved in doing so; this increase our closeness to the other person and deepens intimacy
  • Listening:  This is a rare skill!  It is important in all relationships to spend more time and energy trying to fully understand the other person and less time judging, blaming, or advising.  In an intimate relationship, encourage your partner to share more by being attentive!
  • Feedback:  Be positive!  Acknowledge the feelings of your partner and offer self-disclosure in response to the conversation
Nonverbal
  • Makes up for 65% of our face-to-face communication
  • The majority of our communication is reflected in our actions:  eye contact, body posture, volume and tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions.  Understanding nonverbal communication skills can help build successful relationships of all kinds.

When Verbal and Nonverbal communication match, it is easier to interpret the conversation correctly and helps strengthen the relationship.


What Does LOVE Have to Do With It?
It is easy to get the words “Love”, “Sex”, & “Commitment” confused…and that is because they are closely related!
  • Love draws the two people within a relationship together
  • Commitment in a relationship reflects responsibility, reliability and faithfulness of the couple
There are many different forms, or types, of love that we can have for an individual.  Four of the most common types are explained below:
  1. Paternal-Love expressed for a child by a parent
  2. Platonic-Friendship love; no sexual elements involved
  3. Romantic:  Deep emotional, spiritual recognition of the other person in the relationship
  4. Passionate:  Involving both the pleasure & pain of love as a result of emotions from our stress response.  Relates to the feelings and appreciation towards the other person in the relationship.
Love binds us together as partners, parents, children and friends. HEALTHY intimate relationships are an important contributor of the well-being of both individuals & society
Resources at UA
Does your relationship need help getting started?  Relationship counseling is available through the Counseling Center, (205) 348-3863.

The Student Health Center, (205) 348-6262, offers many educational resources and services regarding STDs and sexual health to better help you.

The Women’s Resource Center, (205) 348-5040, maximizes the learning experience of every UA student and the greater UA community through outreach, services, and advocacy to empower women and encourage their active and equal participation.  The Women’s Resource Center also offers counseling and support groups for women, as well as events targeted towards positive sexual health and wellness.
Evolution of Dating

Have you ever thought back to how your parents met?  Or even further, to how your grandparents met?  How do these times compare to how you met your partner?  Have the “sands of time” changed?

To see a photo montage of how dating has changed over the years, click on the link to view a series of photos outlining the evolution of dating to as far back as 1882!

Just like cars, hairstyles, clothes, and electronics, the trends of dating and relationships continue to change throughout the years.  The traditional idea of a man “courting” a woman in order to date her doesn’t typically occur in society today.  What kind of era of dating do we live in?