UHS Health Education & Wellness

The PAWS health education team provides services in the clinic and on campus. PAWS stands for “Promoting and Achieving Wellness for Students.”

Our vision is to create a community of empowered, healthy, academically successful University of Kentucky students.

Our mission is to provide inclusive, collaborative, innovative, evidence-based health promotion programs and services to University of Kentucky students that support optimal physical, mental, and social health by reducing risk, preventing illness, and empowering healthy behavior change.

Wellbeing image

In the clinic, we provide health and wellness coaching, nutrition coaching, dietetic services, sexual health services and tobacco/vape cessation. These are covered by the health fee.

On campus, we provide a number of education and awareness events, workshops, and presentations in residence halls, Greek houses, classrooms and for student organizations.

We also have student peer educators who amplify our health education efforts and provide their peers with information and connect them to campus resources.

The Student Health Advisory Council works with University Health Service to improve the quality of health care for UK students.

Additionally, we offer advice about the following health and wellness topics:

Sexual health

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Who should get tested for STIs and how often?

  • All sexually active people should be tested.
  • You should get tested at least annually even if you haven’t had any new sexual partners.
  • You may consider more frequent screenings if you have new partners.

What STI testing is available?

  • UHS offers free testing for bacterial STIs (chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea) for students who pay the health fee or it can be billed through a student’s health insurance plan or paid out of pocket.
  • HIV testing can be done in the clinic and billed through a student’s health insurance plan, paid out of pocket, or students can take advantage of one of the free monthly testing opportunities the Heath Education and Wellness Department offers.

How is testing done?

  • For those with a penis, bacterial STI testing can be done by taking a urine sample. For those with a vagina, bacterial STI testing can be done by a vaginal swab or a urine sample. Bacterial STI tests can also be performed to check the throat and rectum and those tests are performed with a swab. These may be obtained by a clinician during a clinical exam or self-collected.
  • HIV testing is done through an oral swab test, a finger-prick blood test, or through a blood test collected at the lab.
  • Testing for Herpes is not recommended unless there are symptoms present. Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore(s) and test it.

How you will obtain results?

  • 2-3 days after your STI screening you can view your results by logging into your MyChart account or by calling the PIN nurse, 859-323-4636.

Consequences of remaining untreated

  • Some STIs can lead to serious health problems if they’re not treated. For example, an untreated STI, like chlamydia, can make it difficult or impossible for a person to get pregnant, and having herpes or gonorrhea can increase your chances of getting HIV.
  • Untreated STIs can lead to serious health issues, including damage to sexual organs and infertility. HIV can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated, which can lead to early death.

Community STI Testing

  • At the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department free, confidential testing is available for STIs and HIV at 650 Newtown Pike. For additional information on testing visit https://www.lfchd.org/sexually-transmitted-diseases/.
  • AVOL has walk-in HIV testing hours set aside each week with no appointments necessary at 365 Waller Avenue, Suite 100 in Lexington. For additional information on HIV testing visit https://avolky.org/get-tested/

Reduce your risk

  • Abstinence: The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex.
  • Mutual Monogamy: This means you agree to be sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active with only you.
  • Reduce Number of Sexual Partners: It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share those results with one another.
  • Use Condoms: Correct and consistent use of either external or internal condoms is highly effective in reducing STI transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. There are always free condoms provided in the restrooms on the 2nd floor of the UHS building.
  • Use Dental Dams: Dental dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex.
  • Get vaccinated: The HPV vaccine is one option to help prevent certain cancers caused by HPV later in life. For more information on the HPV vaccine talk to your provider or visit: https://www.gardasil9.com/adults/.

For more information about STIs please visit http://www.ashasexualhealth.org or www.cdc.gov/STD.

Birth Control Options

There are two main types of birth control: hormonal and non-hormonal contraception.

Hormonal birth control methods work primarily by suppressing ovulation (preventing an egg from being released from an ovary). They might also work by altering cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter into the uterus, and by altering the uterine lining, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. Hormonal birth control methods are very effective, reversible methods of birth control and safe for most young, healthy people. Before you start any of these methods, please read the material accompanying your medication. Hormonal contraception does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Types of hormonal contraception include:

  • Pill
  • Patch
  • Ring
  • Shot
  • Implant
  • Intrauterine System

Non-hormonal birth control methods primarily work by preventing sperm from reaching an egg, often by creating a barrier (these are also called “barrier methods” of contraception). Abstinence and condoms (external and internal) provide STI protection; the other types do not provide STI protection.

Non-hormonal birth control methods include:

  • Abstinence
  • External Condoms
  • Internal Condoms
  • Copper Intrauterine Device

If you are interested in learning more about how specific birth controls work, which are the most effective, or which one is the right one for you, please visit https://www.bedsider.org/methods or https://www.plannedparenthood.org/online-tools/what-right-birth-control-me.

Emergency Contraception

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.

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.

Several types of emergency contraception are available. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) consist of synthetic hormones similar to those normally found in your body. Emergency contraceptive 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.

If you would like more information on how emergency contraception works, its effectiveness, or what kind you should use please visit https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/morning-after-pill-emergency-contraception.

Nutrition counseling

The nutrition coach is a graduate student in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. They have completed their Bachelor of Science in Dietetics as well as their internship and hold the Registered Dietitian credential (RD).  

The nutrition coach can work with students who have a medical diagnosis or general nutrition questions/concerns.

Nutrition Coach Appointments

Initial visits usually last about 45 minutes.  Follow-up visits usually last 30 minutes. 

Call 859-323-2778 or schedule online through MyChart.

Additional Nutrition Resources

  • UK Counseling Center: Please contact Shannon Winke, MS, RDN, LD (Shannon.winke@uky.edu), for eating disorder/disordered eating concerns.
  • UK Dining: Please contact Jessica Carter, RDN, LD (diningdietitian@lsv.uky.edu), for general nutrition counseling for students living on campus and eating on the meal plan.  She can also help manage food allergies when dining on campus.
  • UK Athletics: Please contact Monica Fowler, MS, RD, LD (monica.fowler@uky.edu), for sports nutrition needs as a student athlete. 

Health & wellness coaching

Health and Wellness Coaching is a free service for UK students who have paid the health fee.

UHS’s certified health and wellness coaches serve as an ally who aids you in becoming an active participant in achieving your self-identified health goals. We believe you are the expert in your own life and through coaching, you will gain a partner who will assist you in setting goals, identifying barriers, and providing accountability to enhance your well-being.

Health and Wellness Coaching is not Counseling and our coaches are equipped to direct you to the service that will best support your needs.

Health and Wellness Coaching covers a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Time Management
  • Sleep and Relaxation
  • Study Skills
  • Stress Management
  • General Nutrition
  • Active Living & Lifestyle
  • And So Much More!

What to expect

Initial appointments typically last between 45 and 60 minutes. In this initial visit, you will discuss your goals with your coach and create an action plan for how you can build habits to reach your goals in the healthiest way.

Follow-up visits last about 30 minutes and allow you to check in with your coach to discuss accountability needs as well as barriers and how to work through them. Students can utilize as many follow-up visits as they feel necessary but about six total sessions are recommended.

Follow-up visits can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly and are scheduled according to the student’s specific needs.

Make an appointment

To make an appointment with one of our certified health and wellness coaches, call the UHS appointment line at 858-323-2778 (APPT).

For questions contact Meghan Wolf, National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.

Group Coaching sessions are small group sessions for students to work together with a board-certified health coach on common goals. Sessions are offered on specific topics each semester.

  • Looking for a personal Group Coaching session? If you would like to request a personal group coaching session for your college, department, or group, please email Meghan Wolf.

Health educator presentations

We give a variety of presentations in residence halls, Greek houses, classrooms and for student organizations. If you’d like to bring one of our presentations to your group, please contact Fadyia Lowe or make the request with our online form.

Healthy Living in College: This interactive program focuses on prevention as well as early detection and treatment of health problems. Good health enables students to study effectively, maintain regular class attendance, and reach life goals. By the end of this session, students will be able to identify lifestyle behaviors that promote health (e.g., nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, immunizations, hygiene) and make healthy choices about common issues faced by students (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex).

The Mystery of Motivation: Based on Gretchin Rubin’s Four Tendencies, this presentation helps you first identify your own tendency for behavior change and motivation and then explain the traits of each tendency type. Student’s will be able to learn how to work with their tendency while also learning helpful tips to interact with other tendency types to complete tasks and meet goals whether at school, work, or in any relationship.

The Self-Care Mindset: In this presentation students will learn about the role of self-care and mindfulness in their life and each component of self-care. Students will be able to create goals related to their personal care needs and learn how to effectively check-in with themselves

Sexual Health Jeopardy: This interactive class will cover the basics of sexual health, with the goal of empowering students to take control of their bodies and sexual well-being as they navigate college life. Topics covered include consent, making informed decisions, preventing sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), getting tested, birth control options and campus/community resources.

Nutrition Jeopardy & Ask the Dietitian: Be ready to compete in this team style “Jeopardy” game that will teach students the basics of healthy eating. This game will focus on nutrition related topics, such as MyPlate, common nutrition myths, and eating on campus. Students will be encouraged to come prepared with nutrition related questions to ask the UHS registered dietitian, after the game.  At the end of this session, students should be able to have a better understanding of healthy versus unhealthy nutrition recommendations. 

Peer health educator presentations

For more information, or to request a program presentation by a peer health educator, contact Fadyia Lowe.

Wheel of Wellness (45-60 minutes): Come learn how to live a fulfilled and healthy life while in college. In this program, participants will learn the six dimensions of wellness,  what impact the dimensions have on their health, and what they can do to increase their overall sense of well-being.

Less Stress, More Success (45-60 minutes): Through this interactive program, students learn about the causes and consequences of stress and how to manage it. Students will have the opportunity to assess their own stress levels and develop a brief plan to manage or reduce the daily stressors in their lives.

Sexual health presentations

While the main program topics are different, all programs include discussions about consent, condoms, getting tested, and campus/community resources. All programs are LGBTQ*-inclusive. To request a Sexpert program, email uksexperts@gmail.com.

Know Your Sweet Spots (45-60 minutes): One of the major components to having a healthy, safe, and pleasurable sexual experience is knowing our bodies. This program covers basic sexual/reproductive anatomy and physiology through a fun trivia game.

What's Your (Safer) Sexpertise? (45-60 minutes): In this engaging trivia game, participants learn about the state of sexual health on campus and the basics of having a healthy sex life as a college student.

Pillow Talking (45-60 minutes): As official Bedsider.org representatives, The Sexperts cover the basics of the most common birth control methods and provide resources to empower participants to take control of their bodies and to choose when pregnancy is right for them. 

Peaches & Eggplants (45-60 minutes): This program uses fun and engaging activities to teach participants about the importance of safety and communication when using dating apps. The Sexperts discuss the language used to talk about sex and how this affects our perceptions and expectations.


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