The Facts about Sexual Health

*STI Testing events added for August, on-campus, during COVID Vaccine events. Visit our Get Yourself Tested page for details.

What is Sexual Health?

According to the current working definition, sexual health* is:

“…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a)

What is Sex?

Sex* refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females.

*In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”, but for technical purposes in the context of sexuality and sexual health discussions, the above definition is preferred. (WHO, 2006a)

What is Sexuality?

Sexual health cannot be defined, understood or made operational without a broad consideration of sexuality, which underlies important behaviours and outcomes related to sexual health. The working definition of sexuality* is:

“…a central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.” (WHO, 2006a) 


According to the National College Health Association survey of GVSU students: 

  • 74% of students are sexually active
  • 49% of students that had vaginal sex within the last 30 days used a condom or other protective barrier
  • 14.5% of students who had anal sex within the last 30 days used a condom or other protective barrier
  • 59% of students (or their partners) used contraceptives the last time they had vaginal sex
  • 23% of students had unprotected sex within the last 12 months when drinking alcohol


Sexual Health programming at GVSU:

Check out RecWell's Annual Report for more.

Just a Few Topics

We can't possibly share all the information you might need for your sexual health while at GVSU and beyond. But, here are some content areas and resources we trust!

General Sexual Health

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  • The Kinsey Institute - A premier research institute around human sexuality and relationships.
  • Guttmacher Institute - Provides a wide range of resources around sexual and reproductive health.
  • Scarleteen - Inclusive, comprehensive, supportive sexuality and relationships info for teens and emerging adults.
  • Planned Parenthood - The For Teens page has information about sex, relationships, your body and more.

Safer Sex

  • Safer Sex Practices - Check out our page on how to engage in safer sexual activity, physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Free Condoms - Partnering with Ottawa County Department of Public Health, you can get free condoms on campus. There are also limited numbers of dental dams and finger cots with RecWell.
  • Abstinence can be a safe option for people when it comes to sexual health. Abstinence can have a variety of definitions, so what is it, how do you do it and are there any risks?


  • (Bedsider) - is an online birth control support network for women 18-29 operated by Power to Decide, which works to ensure that every young person has the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant—increasing their opportunity to pursue the future they want.
  • Ottawa County Department of Public Health - offers many sexual health services including birth control options, STI testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings and other sexual health concerns. No parental consent is required and all services are confidential.
  • Yoppie's Contraception & Your Cycle explores how each contraceptive impacts your menstrual cycle

STIs (aka STDs)

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  • Get Yourself Tested at GVSU - Learn more about testing: why get tested, how testing works, which test to get done and where to get tested on or near campus.
  • - Uncover STDs on this site designed for young people!


  • - Learn basics and history of HIV/AIDS, prevention, testing, treatment and living well with HIV.
  • AVERT  a UK-based charity that has been providing accurate and trusted information about HIV and sexual health worldwide for over 30 years.
  • Grand Valley Family Health Center - Among other services, offers PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis).




  • College Guide for LGBTQ Students - The guide offers materials for students transitioning from home to college life. The article covers information on LGBTQ+ statistics, financial aid resources, legal rights, as well as mental health concerns the community may face.
  • Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center - This on-campus resource offers resources for prospective and current students along with many programs and events to create an informed, cohesive, and just campus where community members of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender presentations are supported and welcome.
  • University Counseling Center - This on-campus resource houses many professionals trained in LGBTQ clinical services.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence

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Sexual Decision Making

  • Ready or not? - Scarleteen offers a comprehensive checklist to consider if you are ready to engage in sexual activity.
  • Options for Sexual Health is a Canadian based organization that cares about the healthy sexuality of all and offers these questions for sexual decision making.
  • Communication is Key - Check out our list of communication topics (and starter questions) as you talk about sex with your partner(s).

Sexual Difficulties

  • ASHA - The American Sexual Health Association provides info on common sexual difficulties in women and men.

Even More


Resources coming soon!

Need something else?


We'd love to search for resources you need. Just let us know if you have a resource question!

*Thank you to the University of Michigan Sexual Health Resource Page for many of these resources.

*Resources reviewed and recommended by WIT Peer Educators

CDC Coronavirus

COVID-19 and Sexual Health

Here are some quick tips to have a healthy sex life in the time of COVID-19:

COVID-19 and Sexual Health Resources

Here are some trusted resources to understand the risks of sex and intimate contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WIT Sexual Health Peer Educators

Text says WIT Wellness Information Team - GVSU Recreation & Wellness: Student Affairs in white over a blob of colors.

Want to learn more about sexual health? Request a presentation from our WIT Peer Educators.

  • Sex Ed Trivia
  • Mile High Club: Talking about Sex like the Airlines
  • What I Wish Sex Ed Taught Me
  • More to come...

Or, visit their Sex Ed Blog Series.

Page last modified May 23, 2022