Are You Sexcessful?
College is often seen as a time to gain knowledge and skills that lead to success in many areas of life. While many students focus on finding the keys to academic success, college can be a time to learn more about sexual wellness, which includes discovering the secret to sexcess!
What is Sexcess and Why is it Important?
Sexcess is the balance between sexual happiness and success, and it can mean different things to different people. Sexcess is important for enjoying a physically and emotionally safe, pleasurable and fulfilling experience with another person. Whether you choose to abstain or to be sexually active, sexcess is about creating an environment of respect for yourself and others.
What is the Secret to Sexcess?
The secret to sexcess is communication with your partner(s). You have the right to choose if and how you express your sexuality, and you also have the responsibility to respect the rights and choices of others. Being sexcessful means talking openly with your potential partner(s) about your individual desires and boundaries for each situation. Most importantly, healthy sexual communication means obtaining active and affirmative consent* before every sex act, even if you have done it with that person before.
*Consent is required by criminal law and by the University of California Standards of Conduct for Students. Sexual conduct without consent, or after consent has been revoked, is sexual assault.
Consent is the process of sexual decision-making in which each partner freely, knowingly and enthusiastically communicates a clear desire to participate in a specific sexual activity. Consensual sex can occur when one person asks to initiate a certain sexual activity, and the other responds with a free, knowing and enthusiastic “yes.”
- By free, we mean that the “yes” is delivered without the presence of threat or coercion.
- Knowing refers to an awareness and understanding of the sexual activity.
- One must also express the “yes” with enthusiasm in order to demonstrate that the person is actively excited to engage in the sexual activity.
Consent is not “I don’t know,” “Not now” or silence. These responses do not mean “yes,” and a “yes” for one activity does not mean “yes” for another activity. Consent can also be revoked at any time, so if you’re unsure, the simplest way to know if you have consent is to ASK:
- Ask your partner
- Speak up
- Know what’s happening
Remember, consent is absolutely mandatory.
Consent is important because with it, you know your partner is comfortable with what is happening and withoutit, you risk perpetrating sexual assault. In the process of becoming sexcessful, keep in mind that you have the right to speak up both before and during any sexual activity. It’s also awesome to check in with your partner(s) frequently to make sure you’re still on the same page.
Ways to Check-in and Ask for Consent
- Would you like to ___?
- Are you okay with ___?
- Is it okay if I ___?
- Does this feel good?
- Look at their body language and expressions for more feedback
- Did you like ___?
- How was that for you?
Checking in with your partner(s) before, during and after sexual activities may feel awkward at first, but once you get in the habit of it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it more often. If you are worried that your partner(s) will feel weird that you are asking, look at the situation from their perspective. Would you be upset if someone checked in with you or asked you for consent? Asking for consent and checking in with a partner is practicing respect for them; plus, it’s the law.
Talking About Likes, Dislikes and Boundaries
Another fundamental aspect of healthy sexual communication is the ability to talk openly and honestly about your desires and boundaries. In order to communicate sexcessfully, it is important to know your own preferences, curiosities and limits. People are turned on not only by physical features and abilities but also by personality characteristics. Take some time to reflect what your specific turn-ons and turn-offs are and be sure to communicate them to your partner(s). It’s completely normal for desires and boundaries to change, so speak up if you change your mind.
Tips for Sexcessful Communication
- Listen actively (check your understanding and ask for clarification)
- Speak assertively (try not to be passive or aggressive)
- Consider your partner’s thoughts and feelings to be as important as yours
- Participate equally in decision-making processes
Sexcess Is Practicing Safer Sex
Safer sex is the best sex! Being sexcessful is talking about your preferred method of protection. Starting the conversation may seem daunting or too awkward, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Try to keep in mind that having this conversation is a way of respecting the well-being of yourself and your partner(s).
- Are you seeing anyone else?
- This feels kind of awkward for me to ask, but have you been tested recently?You mentioned you’ve had previous partners, so I was wondering if you’ve been tested recently?
- I care about my health and yours, so I was wondering if you’ve gotten tested recently?
- I got tested last (week, month, ___), how about you?
If you don’t feel comfortable bringing the subject up yet, always be sure to use external/internal condoms and dental dams, as they are the only safer sex products that offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And even if you and your partner(s) are free of STIs, it is always a good idea to use condoms anyway! Additionally, if your partner is not willing to have this conversation or be honest with you, they might not be someone you want to have sex with in the first place. Your health matters, and being able to feel open and safe with a partner is what sexcess is all about!
About the Methods
Both internal and external condoms are effective at reducing the risk of transmission of STIs and preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Not all birth control methods (IUD, pill, patch, withdrawal, shot, etc.) protect against STI transmission, so you may want to consider using a barrier method (condom, dental dam) in addition to the birth control you’re using. You and your partner(s) may want to consider getting tested for STIs before becoming sexually active with each other. Many STIs have no symptoms, which means they can be transmitted without anyone knowing.
Safer Sex Tip: Condom-safe lubricant not only reduces condom breakage, but can increase sexual pleasure. Just add a couple drops inside and on the condom.
Lastly, safer sex also includes feeling emotionally safe, so it’s important to talk openly and honestly about expectations and sexual/relationship desires and history.
For more information and tips about establishing sexcessful communication, see our Sexual Health page.
How Can I Celebrate Sexcess?
To help promote the sexcess of UC Davis students, our Health Education and Promotion (HEP) team is hosting the Are You Sexcessful? Campaign until Tuesday, February 14. We want to know how UC Davis students define healthy sexual communication. Join the conversation today!