Abstinence is defined in many different ways. Some people define abstinence as not engaging in penis-vagina sex. For other people, it is not engaging in any type of sexual activity with another person. Abstinence, when defined as not engaging in any type of sexual activity with another person, is the only 100% effective form of safe sex.
Any type of sexual activity that involves contact with another person's body fluids may lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Abstinence prevents unintended pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. It is possible for people to be abstinent at any point during their lives, even after they have engaged in sexual activity with another person. There are many reasons why people choose to be abstinent. It is a personal decision that someone makes, and the decision can change at any time.
For more information about abstinence, please click on the links below:
Birth control, or contraception, is used to prevent pregnancy. There are many different types of contraception available, for both men and women. This page describes birth control methods for women. Click on the below links to learn more about the types of contraception available, including how to use them and how effective they are.
Female students can be seen by appointment in the University Health Service Women's Health clinic for hormonal contraception, including birth control pills, the patch, Depo-Provera (the shot), and the ring. Non-hormonal contraception, including diaphragms and condoms, are also available.
To make an appointment for contraceptive information, please call University Health Service at 859-323-2778 (APPT).
It is possible for women who take certain types of hormonal contraception to stop their periods, either temporarily or long-term. Medically, there is no reason that a woman has to have a period every month. Not having a period can help reduce pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as other menstruation issues that some women may experience. If you are interested in suppressing your period, speak to your health care provider. You can also click on the below links for more information.
Condoms, a form of barrier birth control, prevent sperm from reaching an egg. They are also used to help prevent the spread of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are made from different materials, including latex and plastic. There are condoms available for males, as well as condoms for females. Click the links below to learn more about male and female condoms, including how to use them and how effective they are at preventing pregnancy and the transmission of STIs.
Emergency contraception can be used to decrease the risk of pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected failure in your current method of birth control.
Several types of emergency contraception are available. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) consist of synthetic hormones similar to those normally found in your body. Plan B One step is available over the counter without a prescription for anyone age 17 or over. It is available at the UHS pharmacy at a discounted rate.
How do I take the emergency contraceptive pills prescribed at University Health Service?
Plan B One Step is taken as soon as possible within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. It may be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse, but effectiveness decreases as the time between intercourse and the start of ECPs increases.
How do emergency contraceptive pills work?
Depending on the time in the menstrual cycle when ECPs are taken, they may delay or inhibit ovulation, interrupt fertilization or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
How effective is emergency contraception?
The sooner a woman takes ECP after unprotected sex, the more effective it will work. If taken as directed, ECPs are up to 89% effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Do emergency contraceptive pills cause an abortion?
No. ECPs do not interrupt an established pregnancy. Once implantation of a fertilized egg into the woman's uterus occurs, ECPs have no effect. If you have had prior unprotected intercourse in this cycle and are already pregnant, you will remain pregnant. There is no current evidence that ECPs harm a developing fetus.
Are there side effects if I take emergency contraceptive pills?
It is fairly common to have some temporary side effects, which typically subside within a day or two after the second dose. Some women may experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, headache, fatigue, dizziness or breast tenderness. Medication to reduce nausea is available in the University Health Service.
How will emergency contraceptive pills affect my period?
Your menstrual period may begin on time, a few days early, or a few days late. If you do not have a period within three (3) weeks after taking emergency contraceptive pills, you should speak to your health care provider about taking a pregnancy test, as there may be a chance that you could be pregnant.
Emergency contraceptive pills do not provide ongoing protection against pregnancy! Emergency contraception is not a substitute for, and is less effective than, the consistent and correct use of an ongoing method of contraception. Emergency contraceptive pills provide no protection from sexually transmitted infections. A health educator, the Health and Wellness Nurse, or your clinician will be glad to discuss contraceptive options with you.
For further information about emergency contraception or to learn about other contraceptive methods call 859-323-5823 ext 8-3264.
Throughout life, people will have many different types of relationships. These can be relationships with family members, friends, romantic partners, and more. This section focuses on romantic or sexual relationships. Many people would agree that they want to be in a happy, healthy relationship with another person. Characteristics of healthy relationships include:
- Good communication
In a healthy relationship, people feel good about the relationship most of the time. No relationship is perfect, and it is normal for couples to experience ups and downs. It may be necessary for partners to work together to improve their relationship, creating a healthier one. If someone finds that their relationship has more downs than ups, though, they could be in an unhealthy relationship. It can be difficult to determine if a relationship is healthy or unhealthy.
If a relationship makes someone feel unsafe, sad, bad about themselves, or scared most of the time, then it is likely that is an unhealthy relationship. It is possible to improve an unhealthy relationship; it requires effort from both partners.
If someone finds themselves in an unhealthy relationship and they are not sure what to do, talking with a friend or relative, a professor, health care provider, or counselor may be helpful. If you think you are in an unhealthy relationship and would like to speak to a counselor, please call Behavioral Health at 859-323-5511 or the Counseling Center at 859-257-8701 to schedule an appointment.
For more information about healthy relationships, please review the following links:
Pregnancy can be an exciting, welcomed event or a stressful, unexpected one. University Health Service is available for pregnancy testing, accurate information, counseling and care for all options regardless of your situation or decision. Services are completely confidential and there is no charge in most situations.
Pregnancy testing and counseling is done at UHS on an appointment basis. A urine pregnancy test is usually accurate about two weeks after someone has had intercourse that may have resulted in pregnancy. To make an appointment call 323-APPT Monday-Friday 8:00-4:30. To talk to a nurse call 323-5823, ext. 8-3264.
Services Provided (Most are covered if you have the health fee)
- Pregnancy testing
- Counseling about pregnancy options
- Prenatal information and counseling
- Pre-conceptual counseling
- Birth control information with counseling regarding all methods
- Well woman exams and prescriptions for birth control
I'm ready to get pregnant! What should I do?
- See a clinician for pre-conceptual counseling
- Take a folic acid supplement or a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs and exposure to radiation or x-rays
- If you are on routine medications, either prescription or over-the-counter, consult a clinician about possible effects on a pregnancy.
Pregnancy isn't in my plans for now. What should I do?
- Consistently use a reliable method of birth control such as OCP and back it up with condoms.
- If only using condoms for contraception, use them correctly 100% of the time.
- Realize that if you are not using a reliable method of birth control all the time, you may get pregnant.
- Use emergency contraception (Plan B) within 72 hours if you have unprotected intercourse or a birth control failure.
Safer sex is anything that a person does to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) or unintended pregnancy. This can include the use of contraception, condoms, and other methods.
There is no such thing as "safe sex" because anytime a person engages in sexual activity where they come into contact with another person's body fluids (or through skin to skin contact), there is a risk of infection. The only 100% safe sex is abstinence.
Click the links below for more information about safer sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI/STD)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are passed through sexual contact with another person. The term "STI" is becoming more common because many STIs do not have any symptoms; medically, a disease has one or more symptoms.
The most common STIs can be divided into two categories: bacterial and viral. Bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria and are often cured with antibiotics. Viral STIs are caused by viruses and cannot be cured. Their symptoms can be alleviated with treatments, though. Below are common STIs listed by category:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV), or genital warts
There are other types of STIs that are caused by other microorganisms, including trichomoniasis (protozoan) and public lice (other organisms).
The best way to prevent the spread of STIs is to abstain from sexual activity. For people who choose to be sexually active, they should use condoms and be in a monogamous relationship where both partners are free from infection.
Did you know:
Many people with an STI have no symptoms or such mild symptoms that they are unaware they are infected. However, they can still give the infection to a sex partner.
- Half of all STI diagnoses are in people 25 years and younger.
- You can have more than one STI at a time.
- You can get an STI more than once.
Click the links below to learn more about STIs, including information on prevention and treatment.
If you think you may be infected with an STI, you can come to University Health Service for testing. Testing for many STIs is included in the health fee. To speak to a Health and Wellness nurse about STI testing, please call 859-323-2778 (APPT). Click on the links below for more information on STI testing.