Ask a Sexpert!

Sexperts answers To some of the most common questions


What’s the difference between STIs and STDs?

There is no difference. STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. When we use this language it implies that the bacteria/ parasite/ virus came from an outside source. Using the term “disease” implies that the bacteria/ parasite/ virus was created within the body, which is not accurate to say. The phrase STD also has a lot of stigma attached to it. Using the phrase STI helps to combat that stigma.

Will a person have an STI for the rest of their life?

In short, it depends. Some STIs such as Herpes, HPV, or HIV are viral lifelong infections but, extremely manageable with medication. It’s important to remember that if someone does contract an STI it does not change their worth as a person, their ability and capacity to love and be loved, their character, or their moral values.

Can I contract an STI from a public toilet seat?

No. It is not likely that a person could contract an STI from a public toilet seat. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites need a certain environment to thrive and survive. A public toilet seat does not offer that sort of environment.

Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?

No. HIV is the initial infection that has the potential to turn into AIDS. AIDS is the 3rd stage of an HIV infection. It is important to know that a person can live their entire life with a positive HIV diagnosis and never contract AIDS.

What’s the most common symptom of an STI?

The most common symptom of an STI is no symptoms at all, or asymptomatic. This means that a person can contract an STI and have absolutely no idea because they will not show any symptoms or signs of having an STI. That is why it is so important to get tested.

Where are some places I can get tested around WMU?


Planned Parenthood:

WMU, Sindecuse Health Center:

Kalamazoo Health Department:

What happens if I don’t get tested?

If STIs are tested and treated and/or managed right away- that’s the best thing a person can do. But, if a person waits too long to be tested; permanent damage can be done to the reproductive system, issues with infertility can arise, or super strains can develop.

Are all STIs the same?

No, all STIs are not the same. Some of them are very similar because of the kind of infection they are. For example- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are extremely similar as they are both bacterial infections with similar symptoms. However Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are very different from Herpes or Trichomoniasis.

Is a UTI an STI?

No, a UTI is a Urinary Tract Infection. This is a common misconception. A person could contract a UTI from engaging in sexual activities but, it is not inherently a sexually transmitted infection. This is why it is important to urinate after engaging in sexual activity. Urinating can help to push the bacteria out of the system, reducing a person’s risk for an UTI.  UTIs can also be caused by not drinking enough water, not urinating enough, or many other possibilities.

Can a person get pregnant on their period?

Yes, this is a definite possibility. If a person with a period is in engaging in penis-in-vagina sexual activity, it is possible for them to get pregnant on their period. Sperm can live in the human body for up to 9 days. So depending on when that person ovulates and the timing of their cycle, it is possible.

Does the pill protect against STIs?

No. The pill is a hormonal birth control option. The pill can prevent unintended pregnancies from occurring in addition to preventing acne, easing pain from ovarian cysts or endometriosis, and regulating periods.

Where can I get hormonal birth control from?

Planned Parenthood:

WMU, Sindecuse Health Center:

Kalamazoo Health Department:

You can also get hormonal birth control from your primary care physician.

What are my options for hormonal birth control methods?

Implant- Maybe you’ve seen the commercial with all of the people saying “I armor up with Nexplanon”. That’s what this is. It’s inserted into your arm by a doctor or nurse and is 99% effective for up to 5 years. 


The IUD comes in a couple different varieties and is inserted into the uterus by a doctor or nurse. Copper IUDs can protect a person from pregnancy for up to 12 years. Sperm does not like copper so they will not go near  the copper IUD. Copper IUDs can also be used as a form of emergency contraception if inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Hormonal IUDs are also inserted into the uterus and release the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs are effective anywhere between 3 to 7 years, depending on the brand.  


The shot- Depo-provera is given once every three months. It is a dose of the hormone Progestin, which prevents ovulation. When an an egg is not present- a pregnancy cannot happen.


NuvaRing is really simple to use. It is inserted into the vagina and releases the hormones estrogen and progestin. If the person using it wants to continue having periods, the ring is worn for 3-5 weeks and then removed for 7 days. If the person using nuvaring does not want a period, the ring is changed every 3-5 weeks with no breaks. The ring is designed to be worn all of the time so, a person can use it during sex, exercise, or any sort of physical activity. It is 91% effective. 


The Pill is taken everyday at the same time. There are many different types of birth control pills. With some, a person still has a period. In that case, for each monthly pack of pills, you receive 3 weeks worth of “active” pills and 1 week’s worth of placebo pills, or sugar pills, just to keep you on schedule.  With others, they do not. 


The patch is worn for 3 weeks and removed for one week. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. The hormones in the patch are absorbed through the skin. 


It is important to know that the efficacy of  the pill, the patch, and the NuvaRing are drastically decreased by the use of some antibiotics, some antifungal medication, some HIV medications, some anti seizure medications and the herb St. John’s Wort (which some people use to help with anxiety). It is important to talk to your doctor and be honest about the birth control option you are using with them. 


What is Emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a medication that can be taken to terminate a potential pregnancy. EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION IS NOT AN ABORTION PILL. It is only effective up to 72 hours after unprotected penis-in-vagina sex.  Emergency contraception will not protect a person from STIs.

Can I use an external condom more than once?

Condoms are only intended for 1 time use, and they should be tied off and thrown away (Not flushed) after use.

What is an internal condom?

Internal Condoms are worn either inside the vaginal canal or over the labia (outside of the vagina) or they can be worn in the rectum and around the anus. They are made of nitrile, a kind of plastic, and lubricated with silicone. 

Where is the clitoris?

The clitoris is located just above the vaginal opening and the urethra under the clitoral hood. The clitoris is partially visible from the exterior of the body, but is an entire organ internally. The clitoris is roughly the size of a pea and is packed with 7,000 nerve endings. The only purpose a clitoris serves is providing pleasure.

Do people pee out of their vagina?

No, people who have vaginas also have a urethra. The urethra transport urine out of the body and is located between the clitoris and the vaginal canal.

Why don’t tampons get lost in the vagina?

The vagina, or vaginal canal is a muscular canal that meets the cervix at its base. Because of the positioning of the cervix and the muscular wall, a tampon cannot get lost due to the fact that it has nowhere to go.

Do people HAVE to get circumcised?

Not particularly. There are some health benefits to being circumcised but, it is medically unnecessary. Culturally, it popular to circumcise new born babies in the Western Hemisphere.  

What’s an erogenous zone?

People all have different erogenous zones, or areas of their body that they like to have touched or kissed. For example, the neck, hips, nipples, or ear lobes might be an erogenous zone for someone. It’s important to communicate with your partner about what that might mean for them.

Can two drunk people give consent?

Michigan law says a person must be sober in order to give consent. In the court if both or all parties are drunk, that's a grey area. There are many factors that would play into that scenario. It's truly a case-by-case basis so, it's hard to say exactly what would happen.

What is consent?

Consent goes beyond sexual relationships. Including asking for consent in our everyday lives can make it feel more normal and natural. Consent allows folks to be in charge of their own bodies, and make decisions freely and for themselves.  Let’s take a second to go over the words up here. Consent is revocable. This means that at any given point during sex, even if someone said yes earlier, they can change their mind. Consent is active. Active consent means that you still have the “green light” to continue. Reciprocal means that all parties involved are consenting and aware of what is going on. Freely given consent is not coerced. This means that consent was not gained through fear, power, black mail, bribery, or convincing. Consent is clear when all parties involved understand what they are going to be engaging in.

What if I don’t want to have sex?

That’s absolutely fine! A person should have sex when and if they are ready for it. It isn’t up to anyone else.

What is the difference between gender and biological sex?

Gender is a performative social construct. Gender is how we present ourselves internally and externally. Biological sex is often assigned by a doctor based on the presence of the new born’s genitals.

What does LGBTQIA stand for?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer, Intersex, Asexual

What does Intesex mean?

A person who is intersex is born with ambiguous genitals (internally or externally),  or hormone composition. One out of every 1500 babies are born intersex. That is the same ratio of red headed people in the US.

What is coming out?

“Coming Out” is a metaphor for a person disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Do people have to come out?

Nope! Coming out is a totally voluntary and unique experience for all individuals.