Sexual Health

free condoms available at CARE offices

Healthy Sexuality

A motivating concept for taking care of your sexual health is healthy sexuality! Whether or not you are sexually active, you deserve to know about your sexual health and to have access to information that helps you make decisions that are right for you -- now and in the future. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center defines healthy sexuality as:

“Healthy sexuality means having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich one’s life. It includes approaching sexual interactions and relationships from a perspective that is consensual, respectful, and informed. Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence. Although many cultural messages contribute to our understanding and experience of sexuality, many of us are at a loss for how to identify or define healthy sexuality. It is important to understand that sexuality is about much more than sex. Healthy sexuality is emotional, social, cultural, and physical. It is our values, attitudes, feelings, interactions, and behaviors.”

CARE believes that all Northwestern students have the following sexual rights, and that with these rights come the following responsibilities.

You have the right to...

  • Accurate and comprehensive sexuality information and education
  • A full range of sexual health services
  • Free expression of sexuality and sexual identity
  • Informed decision-making about your sexuality
  • Protection from unwanted pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections
  • Freedom from pressure to engage in sexual activity
  • No unwanted sexual activity; See Defining Consent for more information
  • Positive, fulfilling and pleasurable sexual activity.

You have the responsibility to...

  • Use safer sex practices to protect yourself and your partner(s) from sexually transmitted infections and/or unwanted pregnancy
  • Be honest with potential sexual partners about sexually transmitted infections to the best of your ability
  • Communicate with your partner(s) in order to gain a common understanding of expectations, desires, and boundaries
  • Respect your partner’s personal boundaries regarding sexual activity
  • Respect others’ sexual expression and identity when it differs from your own
  • Not pursue sexual activity that is nonconsensual, coercive, exploitative or harmful to your sexual partner(s).

If you have questions about healthy sexuality, you can talk to a CARE advocate or a member of SHAPE (Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators) through email at shape@u.northwestern.edu or at their website.  CARE and SHAPE can help you think through your options or point you towards resources and services. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center can also be a great resource around sexuality and identity. If you have specific questions that are medical in nature or are seeking an STI test consider reaching out to Health Service

Resources for additional information: