By: Tal Lee ’15, Public Health and Structural Inequalities Major, University Health Center HEALTH Works Peer Educator
Most college students think that everyone is “getting some.” But in reality, 27 percent of men and 22 percent of women between the ages of 15-24 have never had any form of sexual contact, including oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Additionally, more and more young adults are refraining from sex as the number of students who report remaining abstinent actually increased from 2006 to 2011. So if you aren’t having sex, you are not alone!
Many college students feel that their 4-5 years at UMD is a good time to explore their sexuality and experiment in safe ways. For some, exploration may include having sex with multiple partners, while for others this might mean exploration of one’s sexual orientation or waiting until marriage to seal the deal.
Why are people choosing to not have sex? Here are common responses from students around campus:
- Sex is an emotional experience that I would only like to share with one person: my husband, wife, or partner.
- Refraining from intercourse guarantees that I won’t get pregnant or contract an STI; less stress for me!
- I’m waiting to find the right person, someone who I feel comfortable with and will respect my body and me.
- My religion dictates that I should wait until marriage.
- I am not sure of my sexual orientation and I would like to further explore my sexuality without the physical aspect of sex.
Can I still be a sexually well person if I don’t have sex? YES!
Sexual wellness has many facets besides just a physical dimension. Loving your body and acknowledging the other wonderful physical activities it can perform is a great way to improve your sexual and overall wellness.
Educating yourself about how your body works and navigating the realm of sex along a path that aligns with your values and beliefs are other ways you can increase your sexual wellness.
Even if you chose to refrain from sex, it’s important to respect those that are doing it. There are valid reasons to refrain and participate in sex during your college years. The choice is yours!
In addition, it’s important to learn about this topic now because someday in the future it might be useful to you.
Tips on how to make informed sexual decisions:
- Own your body. Never feel pressured into something that you are uncomfortable with. Take time to appreciate all of the wonderful things your body can do for you.
- Empower yourself with knowledge. Get to know your body before somebody else gets to meet it.
- Communication is key. Be open with your partner. Share your values, beliefs, and attitudes toward sex with your partner and learn about theirs.
- Be yourself. Don’t feel constrained by society’s definition of sex. Be proud of who you are and own your sexuality.
Let’s empower ourselves and other UMD students to take charge of their sexual choices. Leave a comment on what guides your sexual actions and test your sexual knowledge and attitudes with this short quiz.