Sexual Wellbeing

blue banner that reads: your sexual health matters. don't worry, we've got you covered.


GW Health Promotion and Education understands the importance of sexual health in overall wellbeing. We are committed to providing comprehensive sexual health resources to our entire campus community.

We are constantly looking to improve our resources. If you have suggestions as to how we can improve this website, please fill out our feedback form below:

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What is Sexual Wellbeing?

Sexual wellbeing is about more than just the act of having sex. Emotional, physical, spiritual, cultural, environmental, and social health all play a role in overall sexual wellbeing, and everyone’s sexual wellbeing looks different. No matter where you’re coming from, we are here to support you.


The resources listed on this page are not emergency services. If you are in need of immediate assistance, call 9-1-1 or GW Emergency Services (202-994-6111)

Consent is...

  • Freely given - Consenting is a choice you make without pressure or manipulation
  • Reversible - Anyone can change their mind at any time, no matter what
  • Informed - You can only consent to something if you have the full story
  • Enthusiastic - You should only do things you WANT to do, not things you feel you're expected to do
  • Specific - Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn't mean you've said yes to other things (like having sex)
  • Not possible if someone in inebriated or under the legal age of consent (which is 16 in DC)

*** This definition is adapted from Planned Parenthood's Sexual Consent website.



 Getting yourself tested is a normal and healthy part of being sexually active. 

Students can get in-person STI/HIV testing at the Student Health Center. Make an appointment online or call (202) 994-5300 during normal business hours.

Schedule an appointment with SHC

Check out these community resources for free walk-in and at-home STI/HIV testing!

Get Checked DC

Free at-home or walk-in STI/HIV testing available for DC residents.


The GMHW Sexual Health Clinic offers free HIV and STI testing appointments to everyone in the community.

STI treatment is also available here!


Free at-home HIV, STI, and PrEP panel tests. Kits are mailed to you in 1-3 business days in discrete packaging.

Get Tested - CDC

A search tool to find free, fast, and confidential STI/HIV testing near you.

Who should get tested for STIs/HIV?

If you are sexually active, you should get tested! By age 24, half of all sexually active people will get an STI, and most won't know because they won't have any symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STI.

If you use it, test it! Almost all STIs that spread through penis-vagina sex can be spread through oral and anal sex. No matter what kind of sex you're having, it's recommended to get tested at least once a year. If you have sex with multiple partners, or don't use condoms/barriers every time you have sex, then you may want to get tested more frequently.

Everyone's specific STI/HIV testing needs are different, so talk to your healthcare provider about the most appropriate testing for you!

I Tested Positive, Now What?

A positive result on an STI test can feel overwhelming. If you need support, GW Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) is a safe, judgement-free and confidential resource. CAPS offers both in-person and virtual walk-in sessions daily between 12pm and 4pm. To connect with a clinician, visit the Student Health Center or call (202) 994-5300

Know that your STI/HIV status does not define you. All STIs, including HIV are treatable, and many are curable! After a positive test, talk with your healthcare provider to discuss a treatment plan that's right for you. 

On-Campus Treatment Options: 

Student Health Center

Located on the Ground Floor of the University Student Center, the SHC provides high quality medical care to all GW students


Click here to learn more about the GW Student Health Insurance Plan

Off-Campus Free/Low-Cost Treatment Options:

Mary's Center

Multiple locations. Book an appointment online or call


Check out these resources to learn more:

What Are STDs And How Are They Transmitted?

Understanding HIV and AIDS

CDC Fact Sheets - STIs

Condoms / Safer Sex Products

Free safer sex products are available in the Student Support Center, located on the Ground Floor of the University Student Center next to the Student Health Center, during normal business hours. 

If you are an on-campus organization or department interested in providing safer sex products to your students, click here!

Sexual barriers include external condoms, internal condoms, dental dams, and capes. When used correctly, sexual barriers can protect against STIs/HIV and can prevent pregnancy.

Important Tips:

  • Never use a condom more than once! No barrier method is reusable.

  • Pick ONE -- using more than one condom at once can cause both methods to tear and be ineffective. 

  • Don't store condoms in places with lots of friction or heat (e.g., wallet, car dashboard)

  • Condoms expire! Each condom has an expiration date printed on the package. Condoms past their expiration are more likely to tear during use.

assortment of different colored and rolled external condoms

External condoms are placed over an erect penis or sex toy. They typically come in latex or non-latex options like polyurethane or polyisoprene. Natural membrane condoms also exist (e.g., lambskin), but natural membrane condoms do not protect against STIs/HIV.

A note on language: While some brands label their products as "male condoms," we maintain the term "external condoms" because not all folks who use them identify as male.

Not one size fits all! The most effective external condom is the one that fits correctly. Condoms come in many different sizes, so feel free to experiment with different types so you can find the size that works for you!

Did you know? External condoms come in lots of different textures, flavors, and styles that can make sex more pleasurable!

How to Use an External Condom   How to Find Your Condom Size


Internal condoms are inserted into the vagina or anus.

GW provides free FC2 brand internal condoms, which are latex-free and pre-lubricated with silicone lube on the inside. 

You can insert an internal condom up to 2 hours before use, making them a great option for being prepared an in control of your body!

A note on language: While some brands label their products as "female condoms," we maintain the term "internal condom" because not all folks using internal condoms identify as female. Also, internal condoms are great for anal sex, and everyone has an anus!

How to Use an Internal Condom

FC2 internal condom package

Trust brand dental dams in assorted flavors

Dental Dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex. They come in a variety of flavors and are safe to use with water-based or silicone-based lubes.

In a pinch, you can make dental dams out of external/internal condoms! Click the button below to learn more.

How to Use a Dental Dam



Capes are a do-it-yourself barrier that's great for folks who have a t-penis or enlarged clitoris. They're great for protecting against STIs because they keep bodily fluids separate. Feel free to use water-based or silicone based lube with capes!
To make a cape:
1. Find a non-powdered latex or nitrile glove and a pair of scissors
2. Cut off the fingers of the glove, leaving the thumb intact
3. Cut down the side opposite of the thumb
4. To use your cape, insert the t-penis into the thumb of the glove and lay the rest flat over the pelvic area
This image is from Florida State University's resource guide, "Healthy Bodies Safer Sex: A comprehensive guide to safer sex, relationships, and reproductive health for trans or non-binary people and their partners." To view the full guide, click here.

instructions on how to make a cape

Did you know? Lube can make sex safer and more pleasurable? Check out these resources to learn more!

Can I Use Lube to Make Sex Safer?5 Myths About Lube, Busted

ID glide water based lube packet

Water-Based Lubes

  • Always safe to use with condoms and sex toys
  • Wash off people and fabric easily 
  • Can be better for folks with sensitive skin
  • Don't last as long as silicone, but you can always add more!
ID millennium silicone based lube packet

Silicone-Based Lubes

  • Always safe to use with condoms
  • Safe to use with sex toys EXCEPT toys made with silicone 
  • Great for anal sex
  • Less sticky than water-based and last longer
  • Waterproof -- great for shower sex but can be hard to wash off body/fabric



Birth Control / Emergency Contraception
blue banner that reads "birth control" and has different birth control methods dispersed throughout

Birth control can be a great tool for being in control and setting your own agenda. It allows a person to decide whether they want to become pregnant, and can have several health benefits. 

There are many different types of birth control to choose from. The best type of birth control is the one you can remember to use consistently and correctly. 

For more comprehensive information on birth control methods, check out's explore page!

Explore Birth Control Options

Birth Control Method Comparison Table


Where can I get birth control?

You can get birth control through your primary healthcare provider. The Student Health Center (SHC) offers multiple birth control options, including the pill. While the SHC does not currently provide IUD/Nexplanon insertions on-campus, students interested in these methods can get a referral to one of our clinical partners through SHC. 

Community clinics like Planned Parenthood offer free or low-cost access to birth control, including LARCs and the pill. 

Condoms are available to all students for free in the Student Support Center, located on the ground floor of the University Student Center.

What are LARCs?

LARC stands for Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. They include IUDs and the implant. There are 2 types of IUDs: hormonal (Mirena, Skyla, LILETTA, and Kyleena), and non-hormonal (ParaGard, aka the copper IUD). IUDs are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare provider and can last for a few years. The implant only comes in one form (Nexplanon) and is hormonal. It is about the size of a matchstick and is inserted into the arm by a healthcare provider. The implant can also last a few years before needing to be replaced. All hormonal LARCs are progesterone-only, which can be a great option for folks sensitive to estrogen.

Benefits of LARCs include:

  • They're discrete -- no one can tell you have an IUD/an implant. 
  • Set it and forget it -- once you have your LARC, you are good to go for 3-12 years. No need to remember to take anything everyday like the pill.
  • They're one of the most effective methods available -- because LARCs are "set it and forget it," they're easy to use perfectly. They can be up to 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • They're completely reversible -- if you decide later you want to become pregnant, simply have your LARC removed. Using LARCs will not affect your long-term fertility. 
  • Copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception!

What is Emergency Contraception (EC)?

Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy if your primary method of birth control fails. Emergency contraception is NOT the same as abortion -- EC stops pregnancy before it starts, whereas abortions stop pregnancies that have already started.

EC is more effective the sooner you take it. EC can be effective within 5 days of unprotected sex, but it most effective within the first 72 hours. The sooner you take it, the better chance it will stop pregnancy before it starts.

There are 2 types of EC: the "morning after" pill and the copper IUD.

  • Over-the-counter EC pills, like the Plan B pill (levonogestrel), are a great option for folks under 155 lbs.
    • You can find Plan B on campus at the vending machines in District House and West Hall, available 24/7 for $15.
    • Foggy Bottom Plan B (@fbplanb) offers free, confidential Plan B delivery by peers. Deliveries are typically completed within 24 hours.
  • For folks weighing more than 155 lbs, healthcare providers can prescribe the Ella (Ulipristal) pill or offer the copper IUD.
    • The Student Health Center offers Plan B and the Ella pill free with SHIP (other health insurance plans may also cover these). Providers are available 24/7.
  • Copper is a natural and highly effective spermicide and work for all folks regardless of bodyweight. If you don't already have a copper IUD, your healthcare provider can give you one within the same time frame as the morning after pill (effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but most effective within the first 72 hours). 
Sex and Communication 

Talking about sex can be difficult or awkward, but it doesn't have to be. Sexual communication is key to maintaining informed consent, being in control of your body, and prioritizing pleasure. 

Check out the resources below to learn more!

Your Guide to Bringing Up Sexual Health with Someone New

Healthy Relationships - OAS  

Let's Talk About It! A Guide to Consent and Sexcessful Communication - UC Davis




Additional Resources:

Sexual + Being  

Sex Is...   

Go Ask Alice!   

American Sexual Health Association   

CDC STI Fact Sheets