Choosing to have sex is a big decision- your decision. Whatever you decide, we are here to provide you with all the information you need to make the decisions that are right for you, right now.
Not finding what you need here? Have a question for us about sex? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you with an answer. Don't forget, you can Request a Presentation on these topics at more from our team at The Well.
Read our answers to the questions Rams ask us about sexual health!
*Note: We have not changed the wording of the questions students have asked.
STI's Prevention and Testing
Consent and Sexual Assault
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Ask for consent!
- Talk with your partner(s) about what they’re comfortable with and what you’re comfortable with - try a Yes/No/Maybe list!
- Use barrier methods like external condoms, internal condoms, dental dams, or finger cots
Often, taking your time, talking to each other, and focusing on foreplay helps address potential discomfort. If you have your hearts set on penetration, grab some lube (silicone or water-based), communicate, and go slowly. It might be helpful to try gradually increasing the size of what is inserted (one to multiple fingers, different sized toys, etc.) If anything starts to hurt (for either partner), don’t ignore it — and make sure to tell your partner!
It’s possible. It’s crucial to clean them before and after each use and set them aside for a short period of time (approximately 24 hours) to ensure any bacteria or viruses are dead and reduces risk for fungi to form. Cleaning them can help decrease the risk for infection and transmission of many STIs as well.
The material your toys are made of may change how you can clean them. Most toys can be cleaned with an antibacterial sex toy cleaner (available in many sex toy stores) or mild soap and water. Toys made of silicone or Pyrex glass can often be disinfected by boiling them or running them through a dishwasher.
Be sure to take out the batteries, unplug, or remove electronic attachments before washing it!
Any act involving contact with the vulva, clitoris, vagina, anus, penis, or testicles between one or more consenting people for the purpose of sexual pleasure could constitute doing the deed. Genital-to-genital, mouth-to-genital, mouth-to-anal, hand-to-genital, anal-to-genital, toy-to-genital — you get the idea. This definition can also encompass phone sex, masturbation, and genital contact through clothes. Source: goaskalice.columbia.edu
Consent matters. There is no sex hierarchy where some practices are considered more "real" than others.
- Talk with your partner about the need for the inserter (or “top”) to go very slowly and gently. As always, consent is key - when someone says stop or slow down, stop and check in.
- Use lots of water-based or silicone-based lube.
- Some people like to start with a finger in the anus, moved very slowly inside. When there's pain, stop and wait a moment and breathe. This will allow the internal anal sphincter to relax. If a finger is comfortable, you can proceed with other sex toys or a penis. If fingers are going to be inserted in your anus, fingernails need to be well trimmed, smooth, and clean.
- If you use a dildo, make sure it's soft and flexible, not stiff. This will help protect you against colonic perforation.
As many or as few as few as you wish - as long as your partner(s) are okay with that too! Communication about boundaries is key in any relationship (including hookups).
You could. In Virginia, it is considered "indecent exposure" when a person exposes their genitals in a public space. This includes masturbation, sex, and any type of exhibitionism in public. If convicted of indecent exposure, a defendant can be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, as well as be required to pay a fine of up to $2,500.
The term "infection" means that a germ is present in one's body, but the person may not have any signs or symptoms of the infection. The term "disease" means that the infection is causing obvious signs or symptoms in the person. Thus, a sexually transmitted germ — bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungi — causes an infection, which may or may not result in a disease.
There are some trusted, reliable online resources for finding out more information about STI prevention, testing and treatment. If you want to speak with someone on-campus to learn more about your own risk or to talk about testing and treatment, you can make an appointment with a provider at University Student Health Services or check out their Sexual Health Resources page for some great online information!
These other sites have more STI info!
Visit our STI Testing page to learn more about different STI testing options at VCU and around RVA.
For protection against HIV and other STIs during oral sex you can use condoms during fellatio (oral sex on a penis); try out non-lubricated or flavored latex condoms for a safer and tastier experience.
Dental dams, latex sheets, or even non-microwavable plastic food wrap can be used for protection during cunnilingus (oral sex on a vagina) or rimming (oral sex on a butt).
Visit our Condom Concierge Order Form to request your free sexual health products from The Well. Are you a student org looking for condoms for a program? Use the same form to request what you need. Check out our Condom Ordering page to learn more.
You can stop by The Well to pick up information on how to safely and effectively use a condom. Also, you can come to one of our condom demos around campus to learn how. Here are a few important tips:
- Make sure the packages is fully sealed with no holes or tears
- Check to make sure it isn’t expired
- Tear wrapper with your fingers - not teeth
- Make sure the condom is rolled on correctly - if not take it off and get a new one
Talking to your health care provider is always a good place to start. Here are some additional questions to ask:
- Do you plan on becoming pregnant within the next 3-5 years?
- Are you able to take a pill at approximately the same time every day?
- Do you have insurance?
- Are you looking for low hormonal or non hormonal options?
- How often are you most comfortable menstruating every month, every few months, or rarely?
For more information and resources, visit our Birth Control page.
Affirmative Consent is:
- Informed (knowing)
- Voluntary (freely given)
- Active (not passive)
This means that through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Remember:
- Consent to one act does not constitute consent to another act
- The existence of a prior or current relationship does not, in itself, constitute consent
- Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time before or during sexual activity
- Consent is not implicit in a person’s manner of dress or flirtatious behavior
Read VCU's Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination Policy to learn more about how VCU defines consent.
The impact of alcohol and other drugs varies from person to person. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. A person is not incapacitated merely because they have been drinking or using drugs.
Look for the common warning signs that show a person may be incapacitated or approaching incapacitation. Typical signs may include slurred or incomprehensible speech, unsteady gait, combativeness, emotional volatility, or vomiting.
The introduction of alcohol or other drugs may create ambiguity for either party as to whether consent has been sought or given. If one has doubt about either party’s level of intoxication, the safe thing to do is to stop all sexual activity.
It's possible for people of all genders (not to mention of all races, classes, religions, and a myriad of other identities) to experience (and commit) unwanted and coerced sexual contact of all types including, but not limited to sexual violence.
In addition, it's possible for women to rape men, and for male perpetrators of rape against men to self-identify as heterosexual and have consensual sexual relationships with women. Rape is about power and control, rather than sexual preferences.
Most research suggests that between 10-20% of men in general may be sexually violated at some point in their lives and that one in every ten rape survivors is a man.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you can email email@example.com to connect with a confidential advocate through University Counseling Services. You can learn more at our Find Resources page under Violence Prevention.
Much of the idea of a “sexuality spectrum” came from Alfred Kinsey’s research on attraction. He found that most people do not identify as exclusively heterosexual or gay, but more so on a spectrum in between the two. Some folks may be more familiar with the term LGBQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and asexual) as they relate to a sexuality spectrum. You can learn more on our Sexuality Page.
Pronouns are the parts of speech that we use when we’re not referring to someone by their name. Examples can include she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs. To learn more, you can visit our Gender Page.