Whether you want to explore your sexuality by yourself, with a consenting buddy and/or a consenting lover, here are some of the things to keep in mind to stay safe (and sexy) at UBC.
By yourself or with others, treat needs, desires and limits with respect. Consent must be freely given, clearly and unimpaired. This is particularly important when consuming drugs or alcohol. If someone isn’t able to communicate well or seems ‘out of it,’ it’s important to hold off, even if they express their desire to have sex in the moment.
Consent is not a one-time “yes,” nor is it ever implied. Consent is ongoing — it can be revoked at any time, so make sure to check in with your sexual partner(s). You should look for both physical and verbal confirmation. You also should not be afraid to set your own boundaries — nobody is entitled or allowed to pressure you into an unwanted sexual encounter.
In BC, almost half of STIs occur in people under 25. That could be you! Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your chance of getting an infection. Make sure you’re up-to-date on your immunizations, know the signs of STIs, get tested if you’re sexually active and use condoms to reduce your risk.
You can find free condoms around campus in the Nest at the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), the Wellness Centre in the Life Building or buy them at your local Shoppers. UBC’s Student Health Service offers free and confidential testing, and there are other testing sites throughout the Vancouver area if you’d rather get off campus. You can also book a test in BC at getcheckedonline.com.
Many types of prescription contraceptives are free in B.C. and can be prescribed by a pharmacist. This includes birth control pills, copper and hormonal IUDs, injections, implants and the morning-after pill. While these contraceptives may reduce your risk of becoming pregnant, they do not prevent STIs.
If you’re at risk for getting HIV — for example, if you have a sexual partner who has HIV or if you take injectable drugs or share needles — talk to a health care professional to learn if HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is right for you. PrEP can reduce your chance of getting HIV. Learn more at bccfe.ca/hiv-pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep.
THE SEXUAL HEALTH SHOP
The Wellness Centre in the Life Building hosts the Sexual Health Shop. While somewhat limited in selection, you’ll find budget-friendly toys and other sexual health products, such as menstrual cups, oral dams and pregnancy tests (for $2!).