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6.6: Sex and Sexual Health

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    couple-168191_1920.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010) define sexual health as overall well-being in relation to sexuality. It is not merely the absence of disease, but physical, emotional, mental, and social wellness as each relates to sexual relationships.

    Sexual intercourse should occur only when you are ready. Sexual activity includes not only sexual intercourse, but also oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008). A positive attitude and respect for you and your partner will lead to improved sexual health. Sexual activity should occur only when you are ready—and not merely on a whim— given the consequence of poor decisions.

    Although sexual intercourse is a natural expression of sexuality, poor sexual practices can lead to unwanted consequences, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Compared to older adults, sexually active adolescents and young adults are at a much higher risk for sexually transmitted infections. In 2007, fewer than half (48%) of high school students reported having sexual intercourse at least once. Males are slightly more likely to have had sexual intercourse than females, and males usually begin having sex at younger ages. The median age for sexual debut (first time) for males is 16.9 years of age compared with 17.4 years of age for females. Males aged 20–24 are also more likely to have four or more partners than females (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008).

    What Is Risky about Oral Sex?

    Each sexual situation carries its own risk. Many young adults engage in oral sex. Approximately half of young adults have engaged in oral sex and consider oral sex a less risky alternative to vaginal or anal sex, but oral sex can lead to infections of the mouth if your partner has a STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Not all STIs will cause an oral infection, though (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008).

    What Are STIs?

    STIs are Sexually Transmitted Infections. In 2008, approximately 22.1 million persons aged 15–24 were infected with one or more STI, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), trichomoniasis, genital herpes, and Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV).

    How Will I Know if I Have a STI?

    Each STI has unique symptoms. A quick overview is provided. Routine checkups with your health care provider should be scheduled at least once yearly. Checkups will include a general health survey. Ask the UT Arlington Health Services or your regular health care provider for a STI screening, including physical exam and laboratory collection (blood drawn) with your yearly checkup and any time you are concerned about illness.

    STI Infection Location Signs and Symptoms
    Chlamydia Mouth, throat, vagina, penis, anus, urethra Women: abnormal vaginal discharge, lower abdominal abnormal pain

    Both: rectal pain or rectal bleeding (if anus infected), sore throat (if mouth infected), burning with urination

    Men: discharge from penis, burning or itching at penis opening


    Note: Symptoms MAY NOT occur until late in illness (>30 days)

    Mouth, throat, eyes, vagina, penis, anus, urethra Women: increased vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding between periods

    Both: burning with urination; anal itching, soreness, bleeding or painful bowel movements (if anus infected); sore throat (if mouth infected)

    Men: white, yellow or green discharge from penis; painful or swollen testicles


    Note: Symptoms MAY NOT occur until late in illness (10–90 days)

    Mouth, lips, vagina, penis, anus, rectum Signs and symptoms occur in stages. The symptoms of the primary (first) stage may not appear for many days. These can persist for 3–6 weeks before progressing into the second stage. Only the primary stage symptoms are listed.

    Primary Stage: Appearance of a small, single sore(chancre) on the infected site. The sore is small, round and painless.


    Note: Symptoms MAY NOT occur until late in illness (weeks to months)

    vagina, penis, anus, throat (rare) Most DO NOT develop symptoms. Small bump or cluster of bumps in the genital area can occur. Bumps are small or large, flat or rough. Bumps are resolved within 2 years.
    HIV Blood Signs and symptoms occur in stages. No symptoms may be present for weeks to months after infection. Symptoms persist but may be intermittently improve.

    Early infection: fever, headache, sore throat, swollen glands, rash

    Later weight infection: Swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, cough, shortness of breadth

    Genital Herpes Mouth, lips, vagina, penis, anus Painful sore at the location of illness
    Trichomoniasis Vagina, urethra Women: frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge; strong or foul vaginal odor; discomfort during sexual intercourse, discomfort during urination

    Men: Symptoms may not occur at all; irritation to the inside of the penis; mild discharge from penis; slight burning after urination or ejaculation

    From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008).

    UT Arlington Services for Health and Wellness

    Health Services
    605 S. West Street
    817-272-2771 __services

    The University of Texas Arlington Health Services is an outpatient (ambulatory) facility open 12 months a year, Monday through Friday, with a Saturday medical clinic during the Fall and Spring terms. The facility is staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and lab and x-ray technicians. General medical care, women’s health, and mental health are provided. In addition, health promotion and substance abuse education are available. Services include immunizations allergy shots, a highly complex medical laboratory, a Class A Pharmacy, and a diagnostic radiology department.

    Counseling and Psychological Services
    303 Ransom Hall

    Counseling Services assists students with issues related to academic, career, and personal problems. The focus is on working with students who can benefit from a short-term counseling model. Students may be referred to other appropriate services if treatment is required beyond the Scope of Counseling Services. Personal, group, and career counseling is provided, as well as personal growth seminars. Examples of available seminars include, but are not limited to, stress reduction, learning strategies, time management, assertiveness training, anxiety management, anger management, and getting connected on campus.

    Campus Recreation
    Maverick Activities Center (MAC)

    The MAC is a 190,000-square-foot recreation center that includes both indoor and outdoor recreational activities. Students are welcome to drop by the Maverick Activities Center and create their own fun. They may choose from a variety of activities including basketball, table tennis, racquetball, weight lifting, volley-ball, badminton, and so on. In addition, exercise classes, personal training, and massage therapy are also offered. Students who want to improve their health with a more nutritious diet can participate in the “Nutrition Check Up” program.

    Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program (RSVP)
    101R Maverick Activities Center
    24-hour hotline: 817-272-0260
    Coordinator: 817-272-9250

    The RSVP supports and advocates for students who have been impacted by sexual violence and provides referrals to other support services. In addition, it promotes campus education related to sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

    6.6: Sex and Sexual Health is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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