Can we talk about sex?
Have we got your attention? Excellent! Read on, as there’s some stuff you need to know.
Today, Friday 4 September, is World Sexual Health Day, which aims to promote sexual health, wellbeing and rights for all.
To many people, ‘sexual health’ means avoiding sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. Those things are very important. But there’s a lot more to sexual health than that – it also covers feeling good about who you’re attracted to and the decisions you make about your sexual activity.
Demystifying sexual health
While sexual health can be considered a taboo topic, here at Deakin we view it positively. Your sexual identity and experiences are an integral part of your life and wellbeing, so it’s important to feel educated and in control.
We want you to be empowered and confident in your own sexual health, so grab a cuppa and take some time to absorb the following facts that highlight how sexual health is a multifaceted concept.
- is about wellbeing, not just the absence of disease
- involves respect, safety and freedom from discrimination and violence
- is critically influenced by gender norms, roles, expectations and power dynamics
- is expressed through diverse sexualities and forms of sexual expression.
Sex should be a positive experience
Always remember this when it comes to sex: consent matters. Consent means giving ‘your free agreement’ to sex AND having the capacity to consent/agree to sex. So if someone is significantly intoxicated or intimidated, for example, they don’t have the CAPACITY to consent. A vague nod or smile is also not consent. Consent must be enthusiastic from both or all people involved in a sexual situation.
You can withdraw your consent to sex at any time. If any sexual act is performed without your consent, it’s a criminal offence and punishable by law.
At Deakin, we promote positive and respectful relationships in a number of ways, including through Respectful Behaviour training for commencing students, and by building a culture of safety, mutual respect and inclusion through our Sexual Harm Prevention Program.
Remember, it’s YOUR body
Safe sex is about protecting yourself and your sexual partner/s against abuse, STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Unsafe sex can put you or your partner at risk of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV or hepatitis B. Sometimes you might see symptoms, like a rash, but often STIs can be present without any noticeable signs.
There’s a variety of ways to practise safe sex, but the best way is to use a condom EVERY TIME you have sex. And remember that safe sex is a joint responsibility, so make sure you discuss protection before things go too far!
Consider having a sexual health check
Knowledge is power, right? Apply this principle to your personal wellbeing by booking in for a sexual health check. You can find out about contraception; get screened and treated for an STI; and access pregnancy counselling, support and referrals. You’ll be in a relaxed, judgement-free space where you can ask questions and get the peace of mind and confidence that comes from learning about your body.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, your initial consultation will be a bulk-billed telehealth appointment, which means you’ll call your doctor over the phone or Zoom. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing sexual health via telehealth, or your doctor thinks you need a physical examination or further testing, a face-to-face appointment may be arranged, subject to COVID-19 restrictions and campus access.
Contact the Deakin Medical Centre for more information or book a telehealth appointment online.
Help and support is always available
If you ever need any advice or practical support, help is always available:
Support at Deakin
- Access a range of sexual health and relationships resources, from information about particular STIs to contraception options and unintended pregnancy support.
- If you’d like some advice, make a free appointment with a qualified Deakin counsellor or visit Ask Counselling, our online counselling service for students with personal questions about psychological and emotional issues.
- Safer Community is the central point of contact for reports of sexual harm. Our staff are trained in responding to and supporting anyone who has experienced sexual harm.
There’s a range of community organisations with fantastic websites full of resources and advice on sex and relationships, in English and other languages. This World Sexual Health Day, check out Family Planning Victoria – their website and YouTube channel have heaps of sexual health info. You can find other great resources at ReachOut.com and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
We welcome your ideas too!
We’re passionate about educating our community about positive, respectful, non-coercive and safe sexual behaviour. To help with this goal, we’re forming a whole-of-university Action Team involving staff and student partners to design some engaging and innovative programs, events and campaigns for 2021 and beyond.
If you have a great idea or would like to be involved, email [email protected].