Indiana Daily Student

IU Health Center offers virtual sexual health resources throughout pandemic

<p>The IU Student Health Center emphasizes safe sex. Sexual health services at the health center include pregnancy testing, sexual health counseling and STI testing and treatment.</p>

The IU Student Health Center emphasizes safe sex. Sexual health services at the health center include pregnancy testing, sexual health counseling and STI testing and treatment.

The Student Health Center is one of the main providers for sexual health resources at IU. Students can access resources ranging from contraception to individual sexual health counseling with a certified sexuality educator.

Heather Eastman-Mueller, the assistant director of sexual and reproductive health, said the Student Health Center’s department of sexual and reproductive health offers a variety of useful resources for students, like free contraception and counseling, whether they are on campus or doing school virtually in another part of the country.

[Related: IU sexual health expert responds to 10 student-submitted sexuality beliefs]

Eastman-Mueller said lots of Health Center resources are virtual right now because of COVID-19, but she hopes it will be able to provide more in-person options in the fall. She said the sexual health and reproductive department partners with student groups, including the Peer Health and Wellness Educators and the Sexual Health Advocacy Group, to conduct in-person events promoting safe sex and healthy sexuality. 

“I think this last year we've kind of been on pause and tried to come up with some strategic ways in which we can still have our students gain access to information and our resources online, but I'm optimistic that we'll be back on campus in some capacity moving into the fall,” Eastman-Mueller said.

She said she hopes the Peer Health and Wellness Educators, a student organization that works to inform other students about various health topics, will also be available for in-person presentations about sexual health. These presentations are still available but  are done virtually.

Eastman-Mueller said the Health Center currently offers virtual sexually transmitted infection testing, where students can talk with an expert about their sexual history and possible STI over Zoom. They can access free STI testing at the lab located in the Health Center. 

There is also a pharmacy located in the Health Center where pregnancy tests are available for a low price. Students can talk with health and wellness educators in the Health Center for help with an unexpected pregnancy and can speak to an educator about birth control options. Educators can help students decide what option is the best for them and assist in accessing birth control through the pharmacy.

Eastman-Mueller said the Health Center has a YouTube channel with informational videos demonstrating how to properly use different types of contraception. This was created for students’ convenience prior to the pandemic, but because the pandemic has created barriers for in-person gatherings, she said the department plans to make more videos.

The Health Center also offers sexual health counseling, Eastman-Mueller said. These are virtual meetings where students can meet with a certified sexuality expert with any questions. Students can schedule an appointment through its website.

“Sometimes students just have questions that they want to ask that are specific to their sexuality,” Eastman-Mueller said. “We get a lot of questions about herpes, erectile dysfunction and different types of contraceptive methods. Another question that people ask about is how to please a partner, so these questions are best suited with somebody who has that sexual health background.”

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