Sexual Health

According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, fostering pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. Healthy sex can reduce stress, build connection, and be fun! Talking to your partner(s) about expectations, boundaries, birth control, and getting tested for sexually transmitted infections can provide ease of mind and make sex more pleasurable and fun.

  • Annual Exams

    Annual exams are recommended for people with a uterus after the age of 21. What these exams entail can depend on your age, sexual history, and medical history. You might talk about your period, your plans for pregnancy, or get shots like the HPV vaccine. Annual exams also include pelvic exams, Pap tests, and breast exams — all tests to make sure you're healthy.

    If you want to get your annual exam at the HCC, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205.

  • Birth Control

    Birth control (contraceptive) methods give you the power to plan when and if you get pregnant. There are a variety of methods that work in a variety of ways so you can find the one that fits best into your life. You can also get most methods, including birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), here on campus at the HCC!

    To learn more about each method and to learn which one may be the best for you, check out the Method Explorer at Bedsider.org.

    If you want to talk to a provider at the HCC about getting the birth control method that is right for you, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205.

  • Emergency Contraception

    Emergency contraception reduces the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex. It must be taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected intercourse to avoid pregnancy, but the sooner it is taken, the more effective it will be. Emergency contraception will not harm an existing pregnancy.

    If you want to get emergency contraception, you can make an appointment with a provider via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect anybody from all walks of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people between the ages of 15 and 24 acquire half of all new STIs. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of contracting an STI, providing some ease of mind and control over your sexual health.

    STIs are commonly transmitted through contact with bodily fluids and/or skin-to-skin contact. Some infections are bacterial and can be cured with antibiotics, while others are viral and can only be treated with medication to reduce symptoms.

    The HCC provides STI testing and treatment. If you're interested in seeing a provider, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or contact 303-871-2205.

    Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

    Chlamydia and gonorrhea are common sexually transmitted infections that can infect anybody. For people with a uterus, it can cause long-term damage to the reproductive system, making it hard to get pregnant later on.

    Chlamydia and gonorrhea can spread from vaginal, anal, or oral sex with somebody who has chlamydia or gonorrhea. Most people infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea have no symptoms. However, some symptoms may be:

    • An abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum
    • Burning sensation when urinating
    • Pain and swelling in one or both testicles
    • Rectal pain

    Chlamydia and gonorrhea are treatable. Once tested, you can take medication to treat the infection.

    The HCC provides STI testing and treatment. If you're interested in seeing a provider, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or contact 303-871-2205.

    Syphilis

    Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. Syphilis is spread by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can find sores on or around the penis, vagina, or anus, or in the rectum, on the lips, or in the mouth.

    Early signs of syphilis are a sore or sores on or around the genitals. While the early stages of syphilis may be mild, later stages of syphilis (if left untreated) can cause skin rashes, fever, weight loss, and eventually, a host severe and life threatening symptoms. Fortunately, syphilis is treatable with medication if caught early.

    The HCC provides STI testing and treatment. If you're interested in seeing a provider, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or contact 303-871-2205.

    Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

    Human immunodeficiency virus, commonly referred to as HIV, is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. HIV is transmitted through blood, vaginal fluids, semen, and breast milk. You can not get HIV from water fountains, saliva, or touching somebody.

    HIV attacks the body's immune system, making it harder to fight off other infections. There is no cure for HIV currently; however, antiretroviral medications can be used to treat and suppress the virus. By taking their medication regularly, most people can suppress HIV enough to reach an "undetectable" status, meaning their infection is under control and difficult to transmit to others.

    When used the right way every time you have sex, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Talking with your partner about getting tested and their HIV-status can also help you make informed decisions about what prevention methods may work best for you.

    The only way to know for sure if you are living with HIV is to get tested. The HCC provides STI testing and treatment. If you're interested in seeing a provider, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or contact 303-871-2205.

    PrEP and PEP

    Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a pill that, when taken daily, reduces the risk of contracting HIV. To learn more about PrEP, please visit www.whatisprep.org.

    Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medication that can be taken if you believe you may have been exposed to HIV. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

    Both PrEP and PEP are available at the HCC. You can schedule an appointment to talk with a provider via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205. If you need PEP and the HCC is not open, contact the STD Clinic at Denver Public Health at 303-602-6540 or an emergency room as soon as possible.

    Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

    Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 15 related viruses named for the warts that some strains can cause. HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.

    HPV is so common that nearly everybody will get it at some point in their lives. HPV most commonly goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and certain cancers.

    Fortunately, there is a vaccine that protects against cancers caused by HPV infection. The HPV vaccine is recommended for people through the age of 26.

    The HCC offers HPV vaccines and testing for STIs. You can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205.

    For off-campus facilities that provide the HPV vaccine free of charge if you are under 26, check out:

    • Denver Public Health – 303-602-3540
    • Children's Hospital – 720-777-2248
  • Get Tested for STIs

    Did you know that you can't always tell if you have a STI just by the way you look or feel? A lot of people with STIs don't have any symptoms. The only way to know for sure if you have a sexually transmitted infection is to get yourself tested. Knowing whether or not you and your partner(s) have a sexually transmitted infection allows you to make fully informed decisions about your sex life and allows you to protect your health and the health of your partner(s).

    Depending on what you are getting tested for, testing usually involves drawing some blood, collecting a urine sample, and possibly having a genital, anal, or throat swab.

    To get tested at the HCC, you can schedule an appointment via MyHealth or call 303-871-2205.

    For off-campus STI testing services, check out:

  • Barrier Methods

    Barriers such as condoms and dental dams are common ways that people reduce their risk of sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy. They both cover the skin to decrease skin-to-skin contact and prevent the exchange of body fluids, making it harder to transmit a sexually transmitted infection or get pregnant.

    External Condoms

    External condoms slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs and pregnancy by keeping semen inside of the condom. Condoms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can find the brand and type that work for you. External condoms are commonly made of latex; however, latex-free condoms are available for folks with an allergy. Using water- or silicone-based lubricant with external condoms can make sex more pleasurable and fun!

    Internal Condoms

    The internal condom is a pouch that is inserted into the vagina or anus to lower the risk of STIs and pregnancy by preventing the exchange of bodily fluids. Internal condoms such as the FC2 Female Condom are usually available by prescription with no out-of-pocket expense, or can be purchased on the FC2 website.Internal condoms are latex-free and using water- or silicone-based lubricants can make sex more pleasurable and fun!

    Dental Dams

    Used as a barrier during oral-anal and/or oral-vaginal sex, dental dams are commonly made of latex and come in different flavors and colors. Dental dams prevent STIs by limiting the amount of skin-to-skin contact and preventing the exchange of bodily fluids.

    Lubricants

    Along with making sex more pleasurable and fun, lube decreases friction and the likelihood of a condom breaking. Lube comes in a variety of forms:

    • Water-based lube is easy to use, easy to clean off your body and sheets, and is safe to use with condoms and sex toys.
    • Silicone-based lube is longer-lasting and can be used in water. Silicone-based lube is also safe to use with condoms; however, silicone-based lube is not safe to use with silicone sex toys.
    • Oil-based lubes are not safe to use with condoms because they make the latex more likely to break.
  • Pleasure Packs + Free and Low-Cost Safer Sex Supplies

    Free safer sex supplies are available at the Health & Counseling Center's Ritchie and Asbury locations during business hours. For the time being, Pleasure Packs are unavailable to order. Keep checking our website for Pleasure Pack updates and when ordering services will be available again. If you have any questions please contact natalie.siegel@du.edu.

    Our goal for the Pleasure Pack service is to provide an inclusive way to support DU students in their healthy sexual practices, self-care, and pleasure. We recognize that each person experiences pleasure differently, so we have created five different Pleasure Pack options that contain safer sex supplies, self-care items, and a mindfulness pack that does not include sex supplies.

    Pleasure Pack Options

    • Pack 1: External Condom Pack – 10 external condoms, 2 internal condoms, 12 lube packets
    • Pack 2: Dental Dam Pack – 10 dental dams, 10 lube packets
    • Pack 3: External Condom + Dental Dam Pack – 8 external condoms, 8 dental dams, 2 internal condoms, 18 lube packets
    • Pack 4: Solo Pack – 10 lube packets, personal vibrator (while supplies last)
    • Pack 5: Mindfulness Pack – Sheet face mask, eye mask, ear plugs, Spotify playlist, mini coloring book

    In an effort to protect your privacy, we will be using a unique code to associate orders for pick-up. Directions for creating this code can be found on the order form. We also do not label the pack-type on your order.

    Order pick-ups can be made in the new location for Health Promotion — the 1200 suite on the first floor of the Community Commons, across from the smoothie bowl shop. Look for the orange accent walls — that's us! Pick-ups are available from 12 to 1 p.m. each day.

    If you have any questions about ordering Pleasure Packs or would like to order supplies for a program or event, please contact hcc.thrive@du.edu.