The New River Valley is filling back up as the thousands of Virginia Tech and Radford University students make their way back to town for the start of a new school year. Welcome to all of you new and returning students! We hope you had a great summer, and we’re excited for you as you begin a new semester.
We at Valley Women’s Clinic care about your health. We want you to have healthy relationships and to make decisions that will lead to the best physical and sexual health possible. So while you may be thinking mostly right now about getting settled in, figuring out your classes, and making new friends or reconnecting with old ones, we hope you’ll also take some time as the semester begins to think about how you can make safe and healthy decisions this school year.
While you hopefully don’t think of college as a dangerous place, some behaviors that you or other students may choose can put you at risk. In fact, the first part of the semester – sometimes called “The Red Zone” – can be a critical time, especially for women, when it comes to safety.
Research shows that female students, particularly freshmen, are at an increased risk of being sexually assaulted during the period of time between students’ arrival on campus and Thanksgiving – about 15 weeks for most schools. Check out our tips to reduce your risk and for more information on what to do if you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault:
If you’re considering the party scene, we hope that if you’re going to drink, you’ll consider how you can drink responsibly and avoid some of the risks of drinking excessively. Check out our 5 questions to ask yourself at the start of party season:
Your Relationship Health
In addition to thinking about your safety, the beginning of a new school year can also be a great time to reflect on relationships. If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, now could be a great time to think through the good and bad of the relationships you may have had in the past in order to learn from them. And as you seek to move forward, check out these four resolutions you may also want to consider before you enter your next relationship:
Perhaps you’re in a relationship now. This could be a good time to evaluate it before you both get super stressed out with the grind of classes and exams and projects. Take a look at our post on ways your relationship may be unhealthy:
Your Sexual Health
Whether or not you’re in a relationship, you may want to think about your sexual health in this upcoming school year. Have you thought through how to protect yourself from an unplanned pregnancy or from sexually transmitted infections?
What are your boundaries when it comes to sex? Are you waiting until you’re in love or even for marriage? (Research shows that’s not an outdated concept.) Will you hook up? Are there risks to that? Will you use a condom? Is that enough to protect you sexually? Now is the time to think about these things and to set some ground rules for yourself, not when you have had a few drinks at a party and that guy seems so nice.
We’re Here for You
We at Valley Women’s Clinic hope you’ll take some time to think through all of these things. We want you to make the best decisions for your health and relationships so that you can have a great and safe school year. We hope you’ll check back weekly for blog posts on a variety of topics from sexual health to relationship advice that we hope you will find helpful. And while you’re here, check out some of the posts in our blog archive.
We also want you to know that we are here for you if you do find yourself in need of our services during any point this school year.
You may or may not be familiar with Valley Women’s Clinic. We’re a non-profit medical clinic serving the New River Valley, with locations in Blacksburg (at the corner of Price’s Fork and North Main) and Radford (right off of Tyler Avenue across from RU).
All of our services are completely free and confidential because we believe in supporting women, providing them a safe place to learn about their sexual health and explore their pregnancy options. We provide pregnancy testing, testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, ultrasounds, pregnancy options consultations, and more. Request an appointment today at our Blacksburg or Radford clinic.