Safer Sex

Safer sex is a way of engaging in sexual activity that is informed, consensual, and decreases the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.  Safer sex can play an important role in keeping you and your partners healthy. 

Student Health and Wellness offer sexual health services, including testing for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs).


Contraceptives are tools used to prevent unplanned pregnancy. They are very effective resources if used properly but none are 100% effective.

Which form of birth control is right for me?

I can't afford birth control?

  • Student Health and Wellness has free internal and external condoms available to students

  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit's Sexual Health Clinic is able to provide easier, low-cost access to certain types of birth control. Visit their website for more info.

  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is able to provide certain birth control methods at a reduced cost for those who can demonstrate financial need. Visit their website for more info. 

I forgot to take my birth control what do I do?

If you’re not on birth control and recently had unprotected play with a partner who could get you pregnant, an emergency contraceptive can be used within 3 to 5 days (depending on the method) to stop a pregnancy before it starts.


Most people don’t know they have an STBBI because they have no symptoms or they may be embarrassed to talk with a healthcare provider. Most STBBIs are easily cured if they are caught early. If left untreated, some STBBIs can cause reproductive and health concerns. If you are sexually active, take care of your sexual health by getting tested regularly.

What are STBBIs?

Sexually transmitted and blood borne infections are commonly caused by the spreading of bacteria or viruses that are passed from one person to another through sexual activity.

How does someone contract an STBBI?

STBBIs can be spread through body fluids (blood, vaginal fluid, semen/cum, pre-cum and saliva), skin-to-skin contact or through the sharing of needles.

How can I tell if I have an STBBI?

Many STBBIs do not show any symptoms, so it may not be possible to know whether someone is infected. Some more noticeable signs of infection may include blisters, warts or sores, but this isn’t always the case. You must be tested in order to know for certain if you or your partner(s) have an STBBI. Not knowing can be the worst part, if you suspect an STBBI or if you haven’t been practicing safe sex, be sure to see your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic.

What are the risks?

Vaginal or Anal Sex

Chance of infection being passed to you, if your partner has the infection at that site:

 Kind of sex you're having Not passed (or possible only in theory)Not commonly passed Can be passed Easily passed 
 Vaginal sex - without a condom
(penis in vagina)
 Vaginal sex - with a condom
(penis in vagina)
 Anal sex - without a condom
(penis in anus)
 Anal sex - with a condom
(penis in anus)

Oral Sex

The chance of infection being passed to you, if your partner has the infection at the site

Kind of sex you're having Not passed (or possible only in theory)Not commonly passed Can be passed  Easily Passed 
Deep Kissing
(with tongue)
 Chlamydia HIV Gonorrhea HPV Syphilis Herpes 
Oral sex without a condom
(mouth on penis)
HIV (receiver) HIV (Giver)  Gonorrhea Chlamydia HPV Herpes Syphilis 
Oral sex with a condom
(mouth on penis)
 Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV HPV Herpes Syphilis  
Oral Sex without a barrier
(mouth on vagina)
HIV (receiver)  Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV (giver) HPV Herpes Syphilis 
Oral Sex with a barrier
(mouth on vagina)
Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIVHPV Herpes Syphilis  
Rimming without a barrier
(mouth on anus)
HIVGonorrhea Chlamydia HPV Herpes Syphilis
Rimming with a barrier
(mouth on anus)
Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIVHPV Herpes Syphilis  

Other Kinds of Sex

The chance of infection being passed to you, if your partner has the infection at the site

 Kind of sex you're having Not passed (or possible only in theory)Not commonly passed Can be passed Easily passed 
Masturbation Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV
HPV Herpes Syphilis
Hand job (hand to penis or vulva)Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV HPV Herpes Syphilis  
Fingering (fingers in anus or vagina)Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV HPV Herpes Syphilis  
Genital to genital contact (skin to skin, no sharing of body fluids)Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV HPV Herpes Syphilis 
Genital to genital contact (skin to skin, with sharing of body fluids) Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIVHPV Herpes Syphilis 
Sharing sex toys (without condom / not cleaned between)  Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV
HPV Herpes Syphilis
Sharing sex toys (with condom / cleaned between)Gonorrhea Chlamydia HIV
HPV Herpes Syphilis


  1. The chances with condoms are based on the knowledge that sometimes condoms break, slip off or are incorrectly used. If a condom is used perfectly, the chance will be lower. If the condom breaks or slips, the chances are the same as if a condom wasn’t used. Also, condoms are less effective against infections that can be spread by skin contact (syphilis, herpes, HPV).
  2. The Chances of HIV being passed can depend on viral load. For example, the chances are lower if your partner is on treatment for HIV and has undetectable viral load.

How can I reduce my risk?

Get tested: If you have an STBBI and don’t know it, you can pass it on to others or develop serious health problems if it goes untreated. Get tested to know if you have an STBBI and get medications if needed. When you are seeing a new sexual partner, getting tested before having sex can help prevent STBBIs. Student Health and Wellness can order sexual health screening and follow-up care. HIV Self-Tests can be ordered online and SHW is able to provide follow-up care. 

Know your options: Some ways of having sex have less chance of passing on STBBIs than others. Know about sexual activities and related chances of STBBIs, and choose those that you are comfortable with. Lots of sexual activities that don’t involve sexual intercourse also feel good!

Talk with partners: It can be easier in the heat of the moment when you and your partner(s) have talked beforehand about what works for you. There are lots of ways to start this conversation. Learn more about how to talk about safer sex.

Use protection: Use a barrier (external/internal condom, dental dam, finger cot) every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. You might also want to consider taking PrEP if you are looking for additional protection against HIV.


Sexual Health Ontario-free, anonymous and inclusive eChat and phone service for Ontario residents. This service is staffed by counsellors who provide information, support and referrals in English, French and other languages on sexual health topics.

Sexfluent- creating a culture of openness, acceptance and empowerment for youth to feel confident in their identity, sexuality and decision-making capabilities.

Smart Sex Resource- STIS 101

Sex and U

Options for Sexual Health


Elevate NWO

PrEP Basics

Healthy Relationships

In a healthy relationship, both partners:

  • are honest with one another.
  • can be themselves without feeling judged.
  • listen to each other, build up and support one another.
  • feel respected, supported and understood
  • are comfortable communicating needs and boundaries.
  • can discuss what’s important to them.
  • give each other space when needed.

People typically talk about consent in the context of some kind of sexual or physical activity with a partner. In a healthy relationship, both (or all) partners are able to openly talk about and agree on what kind of activity they want to engage in. Whether it’s holding hands, kissing, touching, intercourse, or anything else, it’s really important for everyone in the relationship to feel comfortable with what’s happening.

Sex, Drugs and Alcohol

Alcohol and other drugs complicate sex because they impair our judgement:

  • They affect our capacity to communicate

  • They impact our ability to read and interpret others' communication


Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. Therefore, it is imperative to be able to determine the difference between incapacitation and intoxication. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication.

Some signs of intoxication include, but are not limited to:
  • Slurred speech
  • Weaving or stumbling while walking
  • Exaggerated Emotions
Some signs of incapacitation include, but are not limited to: 
  • Inability to speak coherently
  • Confusion on basic facts (day of the week, birthdate, etc.)
  • Inability to walk unassisted
  • Passing out

With their consent, you can have sex with someone who is intoxicated, but it may be worth thinking about why you want to be intoxicated or why you want to be with someone who is intoxicated when choosing to have sex.

If your partner is showing signs of incapacitation, STOP. 


Yes, you can give consent if you have been drinking or using other drugs. However, the ability to give consent depends on your ability to make informed decisions free from pressure, coercion, and incapacitation. If you are incapacitated or unconscious from alcohol or other drugs, you cannot give consent. 


Yes, you can get consent from someone who has been drinking and/or using drugs as long as it is clear, voluntary and unambiguous. Agreeing to have sex can only happen when it is free from undue influence and pressure. Exploiting a person's impairment from the use of alcohol or other drugs is not okay under any circumstances. If someone is incapacitated from alcohol and/or other drugs, they cannot give consent.

If someone has been using alcohol and/or other drugs and you are thinking about having any kind of sexual interaction with them, it is your responsibility to check-in, ask, and make sure they are okay with what is going on. If you are not totally sure they want to have sex, don't have sex. Even if you are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol/and or other drugs, if you are initiating sexual acts, you are still responsible for making sure the person/people want to participate in any type of sexual activity.


It's okay to have sex when drinking or using other drugs, but all of the rules of consent still apply and this adds an additional level of trust and responsibility. If there is any uncertainty about whether someone is incapacitated or uncertain, don't have sex.


  1. Sexual engagement is a mutual activity that requires active and ongoing participation from both or all parties involved. You are responsible for ensuring consent is clear and unambiguous at all times.

  2. Alcohol and other drugs impair your ability to effectively communicate as well as your ability to effectively interpret another person's communication. Communication about sex and relationships when people are sober AND know each other well can be difficult and awkward for some people. Adding alcohol or other drugs to those situations can complicate that communication especially with people who don't know each other very well and/or are uncomfortable talking about sex.

  3. There are a number of factors that can impact the effects that alcohol or other drugs have on someone such as a person's body size, tolerance, the amount and type of alcohol or other drugs consumed, medications already in someone's system, a person's mood, etc. These factors can contribute to someone going from a state of intoxication to incapacitation, and can impact communication, responses, reactions, interpretations of communication, and mood. Again, if you are initiating sexual activity with someone who has been consuming alcohol or other drugs, you are responsible for ensuring there is clear and unambiguous consent at all times.   

  4. It is always safer to rely on a verbal YES and stay attuned to your partner(s) facial expressions and body language to make sure they are in congruence.

  5. If you're not sure, getting mixed messages, or you haven't asked and received a clear yes, STOP and check-in. If it's ambiguous, consent is not present.

Note: People have different definitions for words such as "hook-up" and "make-out." Be sure that you and your partner(s) are clear about what each of you is ok with.

Information adapted from Dartmouth College Consent

Intimate Partner Violence

Sometimes called “domestic violence”, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious and widespread problem in which a current or former intimate partner engages in physical, sexual, verbal, or psychological violence or stalking. 

IPV is not always obvious, so it is important to be able to recognize its many faces.

Although most people associate IPV with physical harm, it can present itself in many different ways. 

  • Physical violence- such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping. 
  • Psychological abuse- such as intimidation, belittling, humiliation 
  • Sexual violence- forced intercourse and unwanted sexual touching
  • Coercive control- various controlling behaviours such as isolating a partner from their family and friends, restricting their access to resources and controlling their finances 
  • Stalking- a pattern of threatening or harassing tactics that cause an individual to fear for their health, safety or wellbeing.

A victim of IPV is never responsible for the harm inflicted on them, including whether they are intoxicated and/or under the influence of any substance. Unfortunately, research in Canada has found that certain factors are more conducive with violence, regardless of the victim’s intentions:  

  • Age: The rate of violent victimization is highest among individuals between the ages of 20- 24, and second highest for those between the ages of 15-19.
  • Sexuality, Gender & Identity: Individuals identifying as female, individuals within the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, and Indigenous individuals are at a higher risk of violent victimization.
  • Alcohol Consumption: People who reported participating in binge drinking—at least five drinks on a single occasion—were almost twice as likely to report victimization.
  • Drug Use: Drug use is the factor with the greatest impact on the risk of violent victimization. Individuals who stated using drugs were four times more likely to report a victimization than those who do not use. 

Learn more about Lakehead's sexual violence supports and response.

If your safety is at risk or you need help now


University Security (Thunder Bay):

(807) 343-8911

University Security (Orillia):

(706) 330-4008 ext 3911



24 Hour Crisis Response Lines:

Assaulted Women's Helpline:

1-866-863-0511 TTY: 1-866-863-7868

Faye Peterson (Thunder Bay)

Call: 807-345-0450
Text: 807-700-5011

Sexual Assault Treatment Centre (Orillia):

(705) 327-9155

North Simcoe Victim Crisis Services (Orillia):

(705) 325-5578

Le Centre des Femmes Francophons du Nord-Ouest de l'Ontario:

(807) 684-1955


Lakehead University Office of Human Rights and Equity

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Yes Means Yes

Draw the Line

Surviving A Breakup

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

University is a time when many students begin to sort out their values and figure out who they are. It is not unusual for some students to question their sexual orientation or gender identity and to explore how to integrate these with the rest of their life.

Visit our Pride page to get more information about 2SLGBTIQQIA+ health and wellness.