Feature Columnist: Staying safe between the sheets

How do we know? Because during the past 12 years since we started our Kinsey Confidential service, we have heard from thousands of college students. We understand your most common sex questions and conundrums and we’re here to help with information you can trust.

Though there are far more than eight things that can help you have better sex, consider this a good starting place.

1. Not everyone is having sex.
 Only about half of incoming freshman have typically had sex. Many have only tried it once or twice. Have sex when you’re ready; not when you think you “should” or when others are doing it.

2. Learn about sex.

Take a human sexuality class while you’re here. I often teach a section of HPER F255: Human Sexuality, as do several other excellent instructors. There are great sexuality-related classes in sociology, gender studies, telecommunications and other departments. You can also read about sex. I wrote “Because It Feels Good” (so I’m biased) but I also like “Becoming Orgasmic,” “The New Male Sexuality,” “The V Book” and “The Male Couple”, among others.

3. Condoms are incredible, but they can’t do it all.

Condoms offer very high protection against most sexually transmissible infections (STI), including HIV, but they cannot entirely prevent some STIs, such as herpes or HPV, which are skin-to-skin transmitted. Talk to your partner about your histories. Stay current with your health care and get tested.

4. Lubricant often makes sex more comfortable and pleasurable.

It can also reduce the risk of vaginal and anal cuts and tears. If you’re using condoms, stick with a water or silicone based lubricant, applied to the outside of the condom after it’s on the penis.

5. Effective birth control is just around the corner.
The IU Health Center (812-855-4011), Planned Parenthood and other medical clinics offer effective birth control in addition to condoms. Visit PlannedParenthood.org or the IU Health & Wellness web site to explore your options.

6. Care for your health. Get annual wellness exams.

Get tested for STIs before and after being with a new partner. Perform testicular and vulvar self-exams. If you’re stressed, depressed or concerned that you’re in an abusive relationship or otherwise would like support, check out IU’s Counseling & Psychological Services (812-855-5711).

7. Take precautions. Lock your door at night.

Decide whether Facebook or Foursquare location check-ins are right for you. Walk home with a friend rather than alone. Tell your friends where you’re going and with who. Never leave your drink unattended. If you or a friend is sexually assaulted you can call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line at (812) 855-8900.

8. Have sex that you both want — not just sex that’s “agreed” to.

Sometimes people say “yes” to sex that they don’t really want. And often people don’t want to hear, or are too drunk to hear, a clear “no.” Aim for sex that both of you clearly, passionately want. Not just sex you can get away with.

Check the IDS for our Kinsey Confidential column where you can read more students’ sex questions and our responses. You can also download free Kinsey Confidential podcasts, read our blog or become Facebook friends with us at KinseyConfidential.org.

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., MPH is a Research Scientist at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She’s also a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute and author of “Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.”


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