Sexual Health

Sexual health is the sense of empowerment a person has about their sexuality and physical, mental, and and social well-being. It includes a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. 

What Does Healthy Sexuality Look Like?

Consent is an everyday exchange that usually involves agreeing or not agreeing to do something. For example, “Can I post this picture on Instagram?”  In reference to sex, consent is the ongoing agreement to engage in sexual activity.

Consent is: 

  • Freely given- Consent to sexual activity is made without coercion, pressure, manipulation, or being under the influence of substances.
  • Reversible- All parties are able to change their mind about what they want or do not want to do at any point.
  • Informed - All parties are informed about all aspects of the sexual activity.
  • Enthusiastic- The pleasure and enjoyment of everyone involved is important to everyone involved. Partners pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues. There is a difference between “Yes!” and “Maybe” or silence.
  • Specific- Saying yes to one sexual act does not automatically indicate consent to participate in another sexual act. It is imperative to check in with your partner or partners.

Sexual acts without consent are sexual assault or misconduct at Temple University [opens in new tab]. The WRC has a number of programs and opportunities to get involved in sexual assault and interpersonal violence prevention [opens in new tab]. 

Sexual health is a journey that can last an entire lifetime - we are always learning and growing. Below are just some of the ways people can be sexually healthy.  This is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point to inspire and educate.

  • Comfortable with body image
  • Understands the different stages and expressions of sexual development
  • Has information and resources to support sexual health
  • Engages in consensual and empowering sexual relationships
  • Expresses sexuality respectfully to self and/or with consenting partners
  • Is respectful of all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientation of others
  • Explores and acknowledges their own sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Acts according to their values

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

  • STIs are typically transmitted through sexual contact, caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
  • All STIs can be treated and managed with medicine and some can be cured entirely. The most important step someone who is sexually active can take is to get tested regularly and engage in safer sex every time.
  • Individuals 15-24 years old make up just over 25% of the sexually active population, but account for 50% of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year. 
  • The most common STIs on Temple University’s campus are human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, and herpes.
  • Individuals may be unaware that they have an STI because there may be no symptoms or lasting symptoms.
  • Correct and consistent condom use is the most effective way to prevent STIs and pregnancy in sexually active people. Condoms are between 85% and 98% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs. Check out this page for step by step condom use instructions [URL].  

Community Resources 
Did you know that the most common STI symptom is no symptom at all? The only way to be certain of our STI status is by getting tested. There are numerous local community organizations to access testing and other sexual health services. 

Bebashi [URL] offers free, confidential, and anonymous testing and counseling for HIV, other STIs, and pregnancy.

Galaei [URL] offers sexual health education and HIV testing, PrEP services, and more. Their services are designed to prioritize the health and well-being of the queer BIPOC community.  

Philadelphia Department of Health [URL] offers free, confidential testing and treatment for STIs, vaccinations, PrEP, PEP, and more at Health Center 1.

Philadelphia FIGHT [URL] provides comprehensive primary care and HIV primary care, education and social services. 

Planned Parenthood [URL] offers a wide range of sexual health services including STI testing, treatment, vaccinations, birth control, and more.


World Health Organization [WHO]. (2018). Defining sexual health [opens in new tab].
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017). Sexually transmitted diseases [opens in new tab].
Student Health Services of Temple University. (2013). Sexually transmitted disease testing [opens in new tab].