Love + Sex, Love, Advice, Wellness

7 life-changing hookup tips every college student needs to know

It's the most wonderful time of the year: the start of a new semester.

It’s the best time of year to be a college student. You’re moving into your place for the upcoming school year, reconnecting with friends and making new ones.

Parties and chances to hookup are coming your way, too – how exciting! While many people view college as a great time to experiment, it’s totally okay if you don’t want to have sex in college: your body, your choice. Whether or not you choose to hook up, it’s important to know how to have pleasurable, ethical, and safe sex.

Here are a few things you need to know about hooking up.

1. Sexual activity requires unpressured and enthusiastic consent.

A GIF that shows two couples kissing. The text reads, "Consent means both parties are really, truly into what's going on. This means no one is being guilted or pressured into doing anything."
[Image description: A GIF that shows two couples kissing. The text reads, “Consent means both parties are really, truly into what’s going on. This means no one is being guilted or pressured into doing anything.”] via GIPHY

Many of us have been in situations where we felt pressured to engage in sexual activity. We may have given consent only because of that pressure. By reframing consent into something that must be given both freely and excitedly, we can help improve conversations around consent.

2. There’s no such thing as virginity.

A GIF of Tina from Bob's Burgers saying, "I don't want to die a virgin!"
[Image description: A GIF of Tina from Bob’s Burgers saying, “I don’t want to die a virgin!”] via GIPHY

Virginity is a social construct. It was created as a way to control and monitor women as objects instead of people. Vagina-owners were seen as unclean and impure if their hymens were broken. Because of this, people lost out on having relationships and even friends. We’ve come a long way, but stigma around virginity still exists.

Regardless of your gender, there is nothing wrong with being a virgin. It’s okay to wait until you feel you’re ready to give enthusiastic consent.

3. Many people don’t show symptoms of STIs, so get tested.

An animation of a purple hand sliding a piece of paper across the table. The paper reads, "Do you have herpes?" Yes or no.
[Image description: An animation of a purple hand sliding a piece of paper across the table. The paper reads, “Do you have herpes?” Yes or no.]

That’s right – many people do not experience any sexually transmitted infection symptoms. Other may only get minor symptoms like genital pain which aren’t easy to attribute to an STI. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) usually doesn’t show symptoms. That and other STIs can go on to affect your fertility, thinking, and lifespan. HPV can cause cancer in a lot of people, whether of their genitals, throat, or mouth.

On top of that, there are newer strains of many STIs like gonorrhea that do not respond to traditional treatment. These superbugs are becoming more and more common, and scientists aren’t sure how to treat them.

So, please, go get tested.

4. Barriers should be used for any kind of sex.

A GIF of Dorothy from the Golden Girls saying, "Condoms, condoms, condoms!"
[Image description: A GIF of Dorothy from the Golden Girls saying, “Condoms, condoms, condoms!”] via GIPHY

Unless you’re fluid bonded to a partner, you should be sure to use barriers during sexual activity. Condoms tend to be the main thing people think of when we talk about safe sex. Those come in two main types – external and internal.

External condoms are the ones we think of most. They go on a penis or sex toy. Internal condoms (sometimes called female condoms) can be used inside a vagina or anus. While external condoms are still useful during oral sex, internal condoms are not. Pick up some dental dams or make your own by cutting up an external condom.

Wearing gloves during hand sex is important, too! This helps keep your genitals free from any bacteria and can protect you from microtears that can get infected. You can also use gloves to create capes which are perfect for trans men on hormones.

5. The clitoris is way bigger than you’d think.

A GIF of someone saying, "The clitoris is big and it roars".
[Image description: A GIF of someone saying, “The clitoris is big and it roars”.] Via GIPHY

Until 1998, people thought the clit was just the small bean-shaped nub between vulva lips.

We now know that the clit is larger than that spot, called the glans clitoris. It actually includes the vulva lips and right around the vaginal opening, too! It’s the only organ that solely exists for pleasure, and is only present in mammals.

6. Only 25% of vulva owners can orgasm with vaginal stimulation alone.

A GIF of comedian Nicole Byer saying "I'm not going to apologize for my orgasms!"
[Image description: A GIF of comedian Nicole Byer saying “I’m not going to apologize for my orgasms!”] Via GIPHY

You read that correctly! Knowing what we know about the clitoris’ reach, some people may be able to come vaginally because of where the bulbs of the clitoris sit. Others find that there isn’t enough clitoral stimulation to orgasm. You are far from alone if that’s the case.

People with vulvas tend to take between 10-20 minutes to truly warm up to sex. Extending foreplay through that and directly stimulating the clit both vastly increase your odds of orgasm from vaginal intercourse. Picking up a sex toy, adding lube, and experimenting with positions can also help.

7. Using lube doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

A GIF of Jane Fonda saying, "That's a lubricant? I've been putting that on my toast!"
[Image description: A GIF of Jane Fonda saying, “That’s a lubricant? I’ve been putting that on my toast!”] via GIPHY

There has been a running thought throughout generations that you shouldn’t have to use lube because your body should be making enough. That’s a lie!

Some people have medical conditions or take medications that can affect their ability to self-lubricate. Even if that’s not you, lube is a great thing. It can make it easier to orgasm and enjoy any sexual activity. It can also reduce your chances of microtears, making lubricant an important part of safe sex.

Go have fun, but be safe about it, too!