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Sexual activity decisionmaking flowchart

Sexual Health

College is a time of choices regarding sexual activity. How and when to make choices such as whether to remain celibate or to become or remain sexually active are important facets of the college experience.

Interest in interpersonal sexuality naturally ebbs and flows. Sex affects our emotional state, no matter how experienced we are sexually, from encounters that leave us feeling exuberant, contented, or excited, to those that leave us confused, scared, depressed, or angry. Mentally categorizing an encounter as a hookup or casual does not mean we won’t have to deal with feelings about it.

The bottom line is that we need to be aware of our sexual feelings and treat them with respect, doing only what we feel is right.

As you make your sexual health decisions, remember that the best decisions are informed decisions.

Check out the campus, community, and online resources provided on this website.

Make your sexual health a priority.

You have a right and a responsibility to be active in your decision making.

It’s your decision—think it through.

Birth Control

By openly discussing birth control prior to a sexual relationship, partners do more than prevent pregnancies. Such sharing enhances mutual trust and caring, and increases the likelihood of using the chosen birth control successfully. Some feel that raising the topic of birth control in an intimate situation interferes with spontaneity and romance—this is a myth that needs to be dispelled. It is when birth control is not discussed that spontaneity goes out the window and mutual respect is undermined. Romance is better preserved, in both causal and long-term relationships, when birth control is acknowledged as a shared responsibility.

Which Method to Choose

Choosing a birth control method, like choosing a sexual partner, depends mostly on individual preferences. What’s right for one person may not work for another. More importantly, what works may not be appropriate later on as lifestyles and relationships change. Therefore, birth control methods need to be reevaluated from time to time.

Deciding which method to use can be a confusing process. Make an appointment with the Women’s Clinic at the Student Health Center or ask a medical professional of your choice.

Many people get their sexual information or expectations from the media. Countless figures in the entertainment industry serve as powerful role models, but rarely do these images of sexuality and sexual health accurately reflect true sexual realities.

To first get an idea of what options are available, provides information on all of the different birth control methods and even includes a comparison tool.

STI Facts

  • One in two sexually active young people will get an STD by the age of twenty-five, and most won’t know they have one.
  • About one in six people in the United States is infected with herpes.
  • More than 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives.
  • One in five people living with HIV in the United States don’t know they are positive.
  • Chlamydia is the number one most reported STD in the United States. An estimated three million Americans are infected each year.


Campus Resources

Student Counseling Center
Works to promote the psychological, educational, and social well-being of UT students and to help prepare them to be productive members of society. The center is available for walk-in intake; crisis intervention; individual, couples and group counseling and psychotherapy; and psychoeducational workshops and consultation.

Pride Center
Works to provide a safe and welcoming environment for UT’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and ally communities. As a physical symbol of UT’s commitment to diversity, the Pride Center provides support, resources, and a community space for UT’s LGBTQQI and ally students, faculty, and staff, as well as anyone who seeks to learn about sexual orientation or gender identity. The Pride Center sponsors programs and events that raise awareness, increase visibility, and engage in advocacy regarding LGBTQQIA issues.

Student Health Center
Provides outpatient medical care for all currently enrolled students who have paid their full University Programs and Services Fee. Physicians are seen by appointment, and UTSHC provides a variety tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Women’s Health Clinic
Works to meet the health care needs specific to UT’s female student population. Students may request to be seen by a male or female health provider. Services provided include annual female examinations, Pap smears, birth control, pregnancy testing, and screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

Community Resources

Knox County Health Department
Seeks to encourage, promote, and assure the development of an active, healthy community through innovative public health practices. The health department houses a women’s health clinic, community health office, and clinical health office.

Planned Parenthood
A health care provider, educational resource, and advocate for sexual and reproductive health. Planned Parenthood delivers reproductive health care, sex-education, and information to individuals in communities around the world.

Online Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexual Health Resource
Provides information and resources about topics including sexually transmitted infections, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, men’s health, and LGBT health.

American Sexual Health Association
Learn more about sexual health and related topics.

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