Sexual Healthcare at UHS
Taking care of your physical sexual health involves personal hygiene practices and getting a check-up by a health care provider. UHS offers many confidential services to support your sexual health.
All straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, single, partnered and polyamorous individuals should have an annual health exam.
Sexually active individuals 21 years of age or older with female reproductive organs should also have an annual gynecological exam. Gynecology is health care for the female reproductive system.
What is a pelvic exam?
- The Visual Exam - Your health care provider will look at your vulva and the opening of your vagina.
- The Speculum Exam - Your provider will gently insert a speculum into your vagina. A speculum is a metal or plastic tool that separates the walls of the vagina when it opens. This may feel uncomfortable but not painful. Let your provider know if it is.
Your provider will determine if you should have a Pap test done. During a Pap test, the provider takes a small sample of cells from your cervix for the Pap test. At this time, a sample may also be taken to test for sexually transmitted infections.
- The Bimanual Exam - Your provider will insert one or two gloved fingers into your vagina while gently pressing on your lower abdomen with the other hand. This is a way to check your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
What is a Pap test?
How long does a gynecological exam last?
Is the exam painful?
How do I prepare for an exam?
- Plan your pelvic exam for a day you when you will not have your period.
- Do not have vaginal intercourse or insert anything into your vagina for a day or two before your visit.
- Women should not douche. But if you do, do not douche or use any other vaginal products for at least 24 hours before your visit.
- Make a list of the questions you want to ask and be prepared to discuss your gynecological and sexual health history.
Pregnancy & Birth Control
Whether you want to prevent pregnancy, consider pregnancy, or learn about what options you have for an unplanned pregnancy, UHS is here to help.
UHS offers many safe and effective birth control choices, including birth control pills, patches and rings, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. We recommend learning about all of your options. Check out Bedsider and Planned Parenthood's Birth Control Effectiveness Chart and My Method, tools to help you decide which method could be best for you.
UHS also offers emergency contraception (EC), which works best the sooner it's taken, but can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex. Either partner can get EC at UHS, without an appointment.
There are three types of EC, and the most effective type depends on timing of unprotected sex and your weight.
- Plan B works up to three days after unprotected sex and is most effective if you weigh less than 165 pounds.
- Ella works up to five days after unprotected sex and is most effective if you weigh less than 195 pounds.
- Paragard IUD works up to five days after unprotected sex and is effective across all weight ranges.
UHS staff are available to listen and answer questions in a supportive, non-judgmental and confidential manner. If you are pregnant, there are three options available and UHS can provide information and referrals for any option you choose:
- You can give birth to and raise your baby.
- You can give birth to and place your baby for adoption.
- You can end your pregnancy by having an abortion.
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers a comprehensive Frequently Asked Question Sheet on Pregnancy Choices.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common. By age 25, about half of all sexually active young people will get one. STIs often show no symptoms, so many people who have one don't know it. The only way to know if you or a partner have an STI is to get tested and knowing helps you protect each other.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily HIV prevention treatment for people who have multiple sexual partners. PrEP is available at UHS and is covered by CMU SHIP, our student health insurance plan. Those with outside insurane should check to find out if PrEP is covered and what costs might apply. Students can make appointments to start or continue PrEP by calling 412-268-2157 (select option 2).
Should I get tested for sexually transmitted infections?
How is STI testing performed?
Chlamydia: urine sample and/or rectal swab
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): blood sample or oral swab
Gonorrhea: urine sample, rectal swab and/or throat swab
Syphilis: blood sample
What are symptoms of STIs?
- Growth, blister or sore on genital area
- Abnormal discharge from penis or vagina
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Fever, fatigue, chills, cough
- Swollen glands in the groin area
- Rectal itching, bleeding, tenderness, or pain with passing stool
- Swollen testicles or vulva
- Sore throat
This list is not all-inclusive. Please schedule an appointment at UHS to talk about any symptoms that concern you.
I think I have a STI. What should I do?
A sexual partner told me they have an STI. What should I do?
Abstain from sexual activity with any partner until you are examined. Schedule an appointment for a physical exam at University Health Services.
University Health Services offers expedited partner therapy for chlamydia infection. That means that you or your partner can receive treatment quickly if either of you has been diagnosed with chlamydia.
My partner and I want to prevent pregnancy. What options are available?
There are many effective options [pdf] for preventing pregnancy.
Any form of hormonal contraception (birth control), should be used with a barrier (condom, etc.) 100% of the time for the best protection against STIs.
Many birth control methods are available at UHS. Schedule an appointment with us to talk about birth control options.
The condom broke or slipped off.
UHS offers emergency contraception, sometimes called Plan B or “The Morning after Pill." This can be taken by females up to five days after unprotected sex, but is most effective if taken within the first three days.
Any student can get emergency contraception at UHS without an appointment. Stop by our office and check in at the kiosk in the waiting room to see a nurse who can assist you.
This medicine is also available over-the-counter at local pharmacies.