Foreword from Katie, Student Health Promotions Coordinator
Welcome to the WIT Peer Educators’ brand new Sex Ed Series here on our blog. Each Wednesday this semester the WIT Peers will be sharing a post filled with great information about sexual health. WIT Peers are trained GVSU students that work for Recreation & Wellness. They will be choosing and researching topics that they think are important for others to know more about.
While our WIT Peers are passionate about sexual health, the information they share should not be considered expert advice. The blog posts are meant to be educational and spark interest in learning more. Please reach out to appropriate health care professionals if you want sexual health advice.
Finally, we know that talking about sexual health is often avoided in our society and that we may be sharing information that is new or “taboo” throughout this series. Please know that our approach, as we work to promote sexual health on campus, is to engage in evidence-informed, sex-positive, inclusive and empowering messages to all students so that we can reduce shame and stigma while supporting students in making the best decisions for themselves. To that end, we will be posting about a variety of topics, identities, and sexual activities to give students the tools they need to make informed decisions.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns throughout the semester, please reach out to me (Katie Jourdan), Student Health Promotions Coordinator with RecWell directly.
Why a Sex Ed Series?
According to 2018 National College Health Assessment data, 74% of GVSU students are sexually active, which is slightly higher than the national average of 67.5%. Whether we are sexually active or not, it's important to educate ourselves about sexual health. Sex happens to be a natural part of our life as humans (though we know that not everyone wants nor chooses to engage in sexual activity!) However, it turns out that most young people in the U.S. do not receive comprehensive sexual education before they get to college. Receiving comprehensive sexual education - which includes information about anatomy, sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual dysfunction, contraceptives, sexuality, communication and consent - promotes positive sexual behaviors. Because we want GVSU students to be able to make the best decisions for themselves, and we know not everyone received information prior to arriving at GVSU, we are hoping that our Sex Ed Series helps give you some basic information and encourages you to seek more information about sexual health this semester.
So, what is Sexual Health?
First, we will say that sex, sexuality and sexual health are different. Sex is often used as a broad term to talk about sexual activity. And, sexuality is way more than sexual orientation or sexual activity; it “is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.” Sexuality also includes being healthy sexually.
According to the World Health Organization, “sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, and not merely an absence of diseases or dysfunction.” Having a positive and respectful approach to one’s sexuality and sexual relationships, along with the possibility to have pleasurable and safer sexual experience without discrimination, which is free of coercion and violence, is the foundation of sexual health. Sexual health is a big part of our life, which significantly affects the other areas of our well-being. Having good sexual health means you are well informed, careful, respectful to yourself and others, and enjoying yourself sexually in a way you are comfortable with.
Sexual Health is Health: Talk to your Health Care Provider
Sexual health is as important as any other type of health (physical, mental, emotional, etc.). It is important to talk to your health care provider if engaging in any sexual activities; you can/should talk about pleasure and discomfort during sexual activities, consent, STIs, contraceptives, menstrual hygiene and more.
Let’s take STIs (sexually transmitted infections) for example - every year approximately 19 million cases of STIs are diagnosed in the United States, and half of them are amongst people belonging to 15-24 years of age. Untreated STIs can lead to long term health complications, increasing risk factors of certain types of cancers, reproductive health complications and infertility. However, these health complications are preventable and educating ourselves about sexual health and engaging in safer sex practices is an important way to do that. Regular STI screening can help us to find an infection at an early stage and receive treatment.
It is observed that sexual health is not discussed much and we can do that... by simply starting a conversation about it; Henry Ford Health System has some good tips for talking to your health care provider about sexual health.
As Katie said, we will have a new post every Wednesday about different topics about sexual health, so stay tuned! Coming up in the next few weeks: shame and stigma, hookup culture, and condoms.
By: Sonal Subhash Mandale, WIT Peer Educator
Foreword by: Katie Jourdan, MPH, CHES, Student Health Promotions Coordinator
Posted on Permanent link for Welcome to the Sex Ed Series on January 18, 2021.