Sexual Health

Sexual health is a part of our physical, emotional, and social well-being. No matter your relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexuality, sexual health is an important part of your overall wellness.

With the information and resources listed here, you can feel prepared to make healthy choices now and into the future.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

STIs are infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual activity. They are very common, and many who have them don't show any symptoms. STIs can have serious health impacts, but the good news is that all STIs are treatable and many are curable. 

Getting tested

Most of the time, STIs don’t have symptoms, so testing is the only way to know if you have an STI. If you have had vaginal, anal, or oral sex, talk to your health care provider about getting tested. At the Health Center, we offer testing, diagnosis and treatment for a variety of STIs. Usually a simple urine test is all that is needed. Make an appointment online at Tiger Health Portal or by calling 410-704-2466.

How to prevent an sti

STIs are infections, just like the cold or flu, and there are lots of different ways to reduce your chances of getting an STI. The most effective way to prevent STIs is through abstinence (not engaging in sexual activity). If you are sexually active, there are lots of ways you can make sex safer. One of the best ways is to use a barrier — like internal/external condoms and/or dental dams  every single time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Free condoms, dental dams, and lubricant can be obtained at the Health Center.

For additional resources on STI check out:

Request a Workshop

STIgma

What are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are they out to get us? Through this workshop we will take a look at how pop culture and our language shapes our views about these germs and the people who come in contact with them. Get ready to have your socks knocked off.

Request this workshop for your hall, club, group, or class.

Risky Business

Not all sex is created equal. The risk of passing on or getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or becoming pregnant varies largely depending on the type of sex you have. Through a group game, you will learn about the risks associated with different types of sexual activities, STI prevention, birth control, and how to make safer decisions about sex. Free safer sex supplies are also provided.

Request this workshop for your hall, club, group, or class.

Birth Control

Depending on what type of sex you are having and with whom, pregnancy may also be a concern. Using birth control can decrease the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. There are many birth control options to choose from and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The “best” method will vary by person and situation.

how to get birth control

At the Health Center, we provide prescriptions for birth control pills, Nuva Ring, patch, and Depo-Provera shots. We also offer emergency contraception (Plan B for $20 and Ella for $35) as well as condoms and other safer sex supplies for free. Call 410-704-2466 or go online to make an appointment for birth control or emergency contraception. 

Birth control resources

If you are still doing your research about birth control, consider attending one of the Health Center's Birth Control Workshops. Whether you are on birth control, considering going on birth control, or just want to learn more to support a friend or partner, all are welcome and encouraged to attend. These workshops are hosted in the Health and Counseling Center basement room 0306 throughout the semester. Check out our events calendar for upcoming birth control workshops. You may also request this workshop for your class, hall or organization. 

If you have questions about this workshop, email . You may also email to schedule a one-on-one birth control counseling appointment to discuss your options.

For additional resources check out:

Request a Workshop

Birth Control 101

Did you know there are 20 different methods of birth control? With so many effective birth control options readily available, how do you know where to start? Through this workshop, you will learn about the most commonly used birth control methods — how they work, how to use them, and how to pick one. Whether you have questions for yourself, a partner, or a friend, this workshop is bound to answer them all.

This workshop is held on a monthly basis at the Health Center in room 0306. Check out our events calendar for the dates and time.

Breast Health

Breast health begins with an understanding of what is normal for your breasts. To become familiar with your breasts, look at the shape, color and size of your breasts and nipples with your arms both down and raised. Use the pads of your fingers to press firmly around your collarbone, breasts, and underarm area. Knowing how your breasts vary in sensitivity and texture at different times in your menstrual cycle will help you know when something is off. If you notice abnormal changes in one or both of your breasts, consult with a healthcare provider.

Vaginal and Vulvar Health

Good sexual health also means taking care of your body. The good news is, most of the time vaginas and vulvas take care of themselves. The important thing is knowing what is normal for you and what may be a sign that there's something wrong.

Discharge

Vaginas produce a certain amount of fluids daily, so discharge is normal. These normal secretions allow the vagina to clean itself, and stay lubricated and free from infections and germs. Normal discharge does not have an strong or foul odor, and is usually clear or milky in appearance. The amount of discharge varies from person to person, and can change throughout the month. 

Vaginal infections can occur with changes in body pH. Discharge that is different in color, consistency, or odor may be a sign of an infection. If you notice these changes to your typical discharge, schedule a visit with the Health Center to check for an infection and get treatment.

signs of a vaginal or vulvar infection

If your discharge changes color, consistency, or odor that may be an indication that you have an infection. Don’t worry, most of the time that just means taking medication to treat the infection. Other reasons to schedule a visit at the Health Center include:

  • itching, discomfort, or a rash on the skin of the vulva or vagina
  • vaginal burning during urination
  • the presence of blood when you are not on your period
  • pain and/or bleeding during vaginal intercourse

Testicular Health

A testicular self-exam is a simple and effective way to recognize the early signs and symptoms of testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is one of the most frequently occurring types of cancer in people with testes between the ages of 18 and 35. If caught early, testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer. If you notice changes in your testes, consult with a healthcare provider. 

Talking to Your Partners

One of the most important parts of sexual health is communication. It is important to talk to your partners before engaging in sexual activity. Everyone involved needs to be on the same page, and enthusiastic, about what will take place. Even if you are in a relationship or have engaged in sexual activity with this partner before, this check-in needs to happen every time. Even after having this conversation, you can always change your mind about what you do and do not want to do. It's important to also check in with your partners during sex, and respect their decision if they change their mind about what they want. If someone is incapacitated from drugs or alcohol, asleep, or otherwise mentally impaired they are not able to consent to sexual activity. 

Here are some resources to learn more about consent and sexual communication:

In addition to seeing if your partners want to engage in sexual activity, talk with them about the last time they were tested for an STI and what safer sex methods work for both of you to prevent STI transmission. If you are engaging in sex that could result in pregnancy, talk to your partners about birth control options for pregnancy prevention. 

Sexual Health Frequently asked questions

When should I get tested for STI?

STI testing is recommended if you have been (or may have been) exposed to an STI, or if you experience symptoms such as:

  • unusual discharge
  • pain or burning with urination
  • genital skin changes (rash, sore, blister, growths)
  • pelvic or testicular discomfort or pain

Even if you are not experiencing symptoms STI testing may be recommended. If you are sexually active, do not use barriers (such as condoms) regularly, have new or multiple sex partners, or have a sex partner who has been recently diagnosed with an STI, testing may be recommended for you. Talk with a healthcare provider about which tests may be right for you.

What happens when I get tested for STI?

STI testing is quick and easy, and usually doesn't hurt. Different STI have different testing methods. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out which tests you need, and what may be involved. Routine testing typically involves a urine test, a mouth swab, and/or a finger prick. If you are experiencing symptoms, your provider may recommend a physical exam or additional swabs of the vagina, penis, urethra, cervix, anus, or throat.

What if I find out I have an STI?

If your STI test results come back positive, the best thing to do is follow your healthcare provider's directions for treatment. You should also tell any current or recent sex partners so that they can get tested and receive treatment. The good news is, many STI can be easily cured with medication. There are many ways to manage symptoms of STI and prevent passing on to future sex partners.

 Is STI testing free on campus?

The Towson University Health Center does not provide STI testing free of charge. However, the Health Center accepts most insurance plans, which usually cover STI testing.

The first and third Tuesday of each month Baltimore County Health Department provides free rapid HIV testing from noon - 4pm in the Health Center.

What if I want a birth control method that isn't offered at the Health Center?

If you are interested in a birth control method that is not available at the Towson University Health Center (such as the implant or IUD), you can schedule an appointment at a different local health clinic such as Planned Parenthood.

Can I use Plan B if I’m over 165 pounds?

You may choose to use Plan B regardless of your weight; however, Plan B is not as effective for individuals over 165 pounds. For a more effective emergency contraception Ella or the Copper IUD is recommended. Learn more about the options provided at the Health Center here

How can I avoid getting vaginal infections?

To reduce the likelihood of vaginal infections follow these tips:

  • use unscented menstrual hygiene products
  • avoid douching or cleaning the vagina and vulva with soaps
  • maintain a healthy diet
  • use barriers (internal or external condoms, dental dams) for vaginal sex
  • treat infections when they arise
  • use unscented and unflavored water-based or silicone-based lubricants during vaginal sex
  • wear breathable cotton underwear
  • when you use the restroom, always wipe from front to back
Is Zika an STI?

Zika is a virus that is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes and can cause birth defects. There is also evidence that it can be passed from human to human through sexual intercourse. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes and muscle pain. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You can also use barrier methods to prevent the sexual transmission of Zika. For more information about Zika, follow this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.