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Heading off to college this fall? Here are ten things you need to know about sex before stepping foot on campus.

Consent Laws: It's crucial that you are informed of the specific consent laws of the state you are attending college. Some college students are younger than 18 and high-schoolers are known to crash college parties. Ignorance is not an excuse. Make sure you ask for ID and remember, a person cannot consent to sex when they are intoxicated.

The Perils of Alcohol: Not only can a person not consent to sex when they are drunk, alcohol is strongly related to risky sexual behaviors. Carry condoms and employ the buddy system if you are worried about making a decision you might regret. Look after your friends when they are drunk too.

Your Status: 89% of teens believe they are not at risk for an STI, yet 26% of teen girls have one. Having an STI does not mean someone is "dirty", and people often don't show any symptoms. Many people are under the false impression that they are tested at every doctor's visit, but that is not true. Even at the gynecologist's office, you have to specifically ask to be tested for most STIs.

Health Center Services: Locate the campus health center and learn about what services it offers. Many campus health centers offer free or low-cost birth control and STI screenings. Some even offer the HPV (the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer) vaccine to both male and female students.

Birth Control Options: It's best to have an idea of what birth control options are right for you before entering an intimate relationship. If you don't feel comfortable discussing birth control with your family doctor, visit the campus health center or your local planned parenthood.

Rape Response: One in four college women will be sexually assaulted or raped on campus. If you or a friend is raped, what will you do? Find out if your University has a set protocol for responding to sexual assault, and know you can always call the police for help.

Back-up Birth Control: Check out the local drug store or the campus health center to find out if they offer Plan-B, birth control that can be taken after unprotected sex. Even if you never need this option, you could be a really good friend by providing someone who was raped or had a condom break with this back-up plan.

Sexual Boundaries: Take the time to clarify what sexual acts or circumstances you are not comfortable with. It's easier to stick to boundaries and communicate them to a partner when they are clearly defined.

What You Want: You are taking on risks by having sex - so make sure it's fun! What do you want out of a sexual experience? Really think about what you desire and communicate it to your partner.

What Your Partner Wants: Make sure your partner feels respected and happy. Ask them what they want out of the experience and if it falls in line with your sexual boundaries and desires, give it to them!

About the Author

Kathryn Stamoulis Ph.D.

Kathryn Stamoulis, Ph.D., teaches at psychology at Hunter College, and specializes in adolescent and sexual development.

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