SEXploration 2024 will start on April 1!

Welcome to SEXploration 2024! The Health and Belonging Cohort is excited to be back for another year of programming. Through partnerships with the GSC, Title IX, the Career Center, and more, this April will hold opportunities to learn and engage with topics on sexual health and wellbeing. SEXploration was borne out of a Carleton community need for information that may have been missed during sex education in the American K12 school curricula. In SEXploration, we connect you to on- and off-campus resources to support sexual health and well-being in our community. We invite you to explore more resources below, and we hope to see you in person for some of these amazing events!

Participating Campus Offices:

  • Career Center
  • Center for Community and Civic Engagement – Health and Belonging Cohort
  • Gender and Sexuality Center
  • Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies – Academic Department
  • Title IX Office/ Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response (SMPR)
  • Office of Health Promotion
  • Student Health and Counseling

Off-Campus Partnerships:

  • Smitten Kitten
  • Carleton Alums
  • HOPE Center

Educational Resources 2024

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread by sexual contact and sharing of needles/syringes. STIs are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. STIs may pass from person to person via blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.

Causes of STIs

  • Bacteria
    • Gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are curable STIs treated with antibiotics
  • Viruses
    • A viral infection cannot be cured, but can be treated with controlled. This includes herpes, HPV, HIV/AIDs, and hepatitis B
  • Parasites
    • Trichomoniasis is generally curable with antibiotics

Effects on Fertility

STIs can directly or indirectly cause infertility in women and men. When STIs are left untreated, infections can develop that cause infertility by moving up the reproductive system.

Risk Factors

  • Having unprotected sex
  • Having sexual contact with many partners
  • Misuse of alcohol or use of recreational drugs
  • Injecting drugs

Facts about STIs

  • 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have an STI
  • STIs lead to increased susceptibility to HIV. The inflammation and immune response after an STI can weaken the genitalia skin barrier, creating a more permissive environment for HIV to invade.
  • More than one million STIs are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic
  • HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and 60% of penile cancers.


  • Reduce number of sexual partners
  • Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. Homeland Health Specialists administer vaccinations at SHAC monthly. 
  • Use condoms


Sometimes there are no symptoms, however, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Penis and vaginal discharge (foul odor, different color, different amount)
  • Painful sex
  • Warts, bumps, and sores around the genital area
  • Vaginal bleeding (not from period)
  • Painful or frequent urination


  • SHAC Testing Tuesdays includes express STI testing from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Appointments are required and can be made via mySHAC or by calling 507-222-4080.
  • Homeland Health Specialists administer vaccinations at SHAC monthly. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a virus that can be transmitted through sexual contact. It can make its way into the genitals, mouth, or throat and cause infection.

About 50% of HPV infections are due to high-risk HPV strains that could lead to cervical cancer or cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, head, and neck.

How do you get HPV?

2 individuals + partake in sexual activity could lead to over 150 types of HPV infections including:

  • High-risk HPV strains (covered by vaccine) are responsible for 70% of cases of cervical cancer and a majority of cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva.
  • Low-risk HPV strains (covered by vaccine) are responsible for 90% of cases of genital warts
  • Low-risk HPA strains your body clears the infection by itself.

Progression of HPV to cancer

Cells infected with HPV undergo changes in cell replication, division, and communication, causing them to multiply in an uncontrolled manner. If HPV is not cleared from your body, infected cells can form an area of precancerous cells that can progress to cancer.

Prevention and detection

What’s tricky about HPV is that the high-risk strains do not usually cause symptoms. So, you might have no idea you’ve been infected. Sometimes, the low-risk strains might cause symptoms such as genital itching, genital warts, and others, so, testing and vaccination is important!

To protect yourself against HPV:

  1. Get vaccinated. HPV vaccines are anti-cancerous vaccines, preventing most cases of cervical, vaginal, anal, and vulvar cancers.
  2. Use condoms, they can protect women from HPV infection
  3. Get tested
    • Pap Tests check for cancer or precancerous changes of the cervix and are recommended for women every three years starting at the age of 21.
    • HPV tests check for HPV DNA and are recommended every five years starting at the age of 30.

HPV Vaccine (male and female) — Gardasil 9

The HPV vaccine mimics the virus but is NOT infectious because it lacks the virus’ DNA. Antibodies made against the viral-mimic will also target the natural HPV virus to prevent infection. Vaccines protect against infection, and herd immunity reduces the prevalence of the vaccine-target HPV types in the population which results in less chance of infection

Campus Resources

  • SHAC offers pap smear testing for individuals 21+. Appointments can be scheduled online as a 30 or 60-minute office visit.
  • Homeland Health Specialists administer vaccinations at SHAC monthly. 

SHAC STI Testing and Vaccinations

There is express STI testing every Tuesday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at SHAC. Visit your MySHAC Portal portal to register for testing.

How it works

Register on your MySHAC Portal for a time that works with your schedule. Appointments are required.

Express visits allow students to choose which screening tests they want performed, and give students the responsibility of checking into insurance coverage before the visit so that at the appointment, all the student needs to do is get the necessary supplies from the provider and collect samples. There may also be a blood draw done. This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes of a student’s time if the forms and insurance verification are done before the visit.

Longer STI visits are still available for students who are symptomatic, have had a known exposure, have questions about STI screening, or would like to discuss Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.

There are also vaccinations through SHAC! Visit this link for more information!

Additional testing resources

The following are additional STI testing resources in our community that are also available. Keep in mind that SHAC is often the easiest resource for getting tested while on campus. SHAC is also available throughout the academic year for STI testing.

Educational Resources 2023

General STI Info

All About STIs
STI General Info Poster
STI Prevention Poster

HPV Info

What is HPV Poster

HIV Info

HIV Quick Resources
Living With HIV

Sexual Violence Resources*

  • The Body Keeps the Score is a great book if you are interested in the mind-body connection involved in trauma processing. Health issues can be due to past trauma resurfacing body pain because triggers can remind the body of the pain during past violence.
  • This article defines the “comfort in, dump out” model, which outlines the concept of not complaining about the effects of someone’s trauma to the person affected, only to people who are less close to the trauma.
  • Here are links to Heather Plett’s blog, which are related to holding space, and here is an example of it.
  • Learn more about burnout in this podcast, Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle.
  • Making lasting friends can be difficult because it is something that we are never taught to do, so here is a podcast about it. The other podcasts in the same series are also interesting: We Can Do Hard Things.
  • Talking about and learning more about sexual violence can be difficult, so to retain optimism, read about the 3 P’s of optimism, which are personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence. Sometimes staying optimistic can be difficult, so keeping a happy photo album on your phone or a file of nice things people said about you nearby are two ways to stay positive. 

* These resources were provided by Erica Staab-Absher, the director of HOPE Center.

Sexploration Calendar 2024

Sexploration Calendar 2024