Gender and Sexual Health
University Health Services offers comprehensive gender and sexual health care for persons of all assigned sexes and gender identities.
Preventive and Wellness Care:
- Wellness visits: This includes a review of personal and family health history, discussions about sexual health, and a focus on strategies to have excellent health, including personalized nutrition and exercise recommendations. During these visits, chest/breast examinations, HPV-cancer screening and immunizations can be addressed if applicable.
- HPV-cancer screening of the cervix: This is recommended starting between age 21 and 25, and every 3 to 5 years, depending on patient health history and discussion between a patient and their clinician. Some may refer to this as the "Pap test." Having this test is not a requirement before starting birth control.
- HPV vaccine (Gardasil ®): The HPV vaccine is recommended for all persons age 9-45. The HPV vaccine is covered by student health insurance plan for persons age 9-45. The HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series, with the second and third dose given 2 and 6 months after the first dose. Contact UHS nursing personnel to schedule an appointment.
- Pregnancy prevention, testing and referrals: We offer pregnancy testing, options counseling and referrals. If a student has a positive pregnancy test and wants to discuss how they are feeling, ask questions or discuss options, we offer same-day visits for counseling and referrals. Please see more details below about pregnancy prevention (contraception) options we provide.
- Screening, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs): If there are concerns about an STI, we can offer same-day visits to test and treat.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP): All of our UHS clinicians provide counseling, prescriptions and following testing for PrEP. PrEP is a medication taken by mouth that can reduce HIV transmission by over 90%. Our student health insurance plan covers PrEP and there are many programs that offer no-cost PrEP to individuals living in Ohio.
Pregnancy Prevention and Birth Control Options
We provide personalized counseling to determine each student’s pregnancy prevention needs.
We offer a comprehensive list of birth control options, such as:
- The birth control pill, patch, ring or injection
- Prescription for barrier methods, like the Caya® diaphragm
- Counseling on other barrier methods, like internal and external condoms (external condoms are available on site at UHS)
- Long-acting reversible devices such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the arm-implant
- We offer 3 hormonal IUDs (Skyla ®, Kyleena ® and Mirena®) and the non-hormonal copper IUD (ParaGard ®).
- We also offer the arm implant, Nexplanon.®
- Emergency contraception
- The (“morning after pill”), Plan B® is available over the counter at our student health pharmacy without a prescription.
- Another emergency contraception, ulipristal acetate (ella®), is also available at our pharmacy by prescription only and may be more effective for some patients.
- We also offer the copper IUD (Paragard®) for emergency contraception- (Note: the copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception).
- We offer same day visits to discuss emergency contraceptive needs.
Many hormonal birth control options offer health benefits to patients beyond pregnancy prevention, such as treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne, heavy periods, endometriosis and dysphoria related to bleeding, and other health conditions.
Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Concerns
Many urgent concerns can be evaluated with a same-day appointment with one of our clinicians. We offer evaluation and treatment for a many health concerns including:
- Concerns or symptoms of sexually transmitted infections
- Irregular periods/ bleeding
- Menstrual/bleeding problems
- Painful sex
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal discharge, irritation, sores or lesions
Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Students
We offer gender-affirming care, including initiation and continuation of gender-affirming hormones at University Health Services, using a informed consent model. A mental health letter is not required before scheduling a visit to speak with one of our physicians who provide gender-affirming hormones. A mental health assessment will be part of the initial visit with our clinicians and additional resources can be provided if needed.
For students who have not been on gender-affirming hormone in the past: During the first visit, a student will meet with one of our physicians (either in person or through telehealth) and discuss gender identity and goals of gender-affirming care. Risks, benefits and different options for hormones and medical interventions will be discussed and blood work will be completed. If the physician and patient agree that hormones are the best option for care, these prescriptions and further education (including injection teaching if applicable) will be provided at a follow up visit.
For students who are already on gender-affirming hormones: Please bring any previous documentation about your hormone regimen and previous care if possible. This will help our physicians create a follow up plan and assess the need for additional blood work or monitoring.
Getting refills of birth control when prescribed by an outside clinician:
Written prescriptions for your birth control method from a non UHS clinician can be filled at the UHS Pharmacy. In order to comply with public health regulations, patients obtaining their prescriptions from UHS need to be under the care of a UHS provider. Prescriptions coming from a non UHS clinician may need to be rewritten by the UHS provider.
UHS must receive a copy of your recent pap smear (if applicable, within the past 12 months) from your clinician's office. This can be accomplished by:
- Faxing pap report to University Health Services at 513-556-1337
- Mailing pap report to:
University Health Services
University of Cincinnati
PO Box 210010
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0010
- Bringing in a copy of your pap report to University Health Services
If you do not have immediate access to your pap results, discuss this with a UHS nurse who will assist you with obtaining your results from your clinician. You will need to complete and sign a medical records release.
Once the pap report is obtained, you will need to schedule an appointment with a University Health Services provider for a Contraceptive Counseling office visit. This visit is covered for those who have UC Student Health Insurance. This can be done with an appointment at either UHS location.
At the time of your office visit, your blood pressure will be checked and you will be asked to complete a short oral contraceptive questionnaire. If the UHS provider determines there are no contraindications, you will be provided with a prescription for enough pill packs until your next pap is due.
Continuing Depo-Provera injections when prescribed by an outside clinician:
If you use Depo-Provera and are due for an injection, UHS will give that injection if you provide medical documentation of the date of the previous shot. A copy of your most recent PAP test (if applicable) is also appreciated. Your health care provider can fax it to us at:
- 513-556-1337 (UHS Richard E. Lindner Center, Main Campus)
- 513-584-2222 (UHS Holmes Location, Medical Campus)
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Many students seek out routine STI screening, even when they are not having symptoms, just to be sure they don’t have an STI. This is important, since many infections do not cause symptoms.
Please call for an appointment for evaluation if you are sexually active and experiencing symptoms such as:
- Unusual discharge
- Bleeding between periods or after sex
- Burning pain with urination
- Pelvic pain
Emergency Contraceptive Pills
Emergency contraception, also known as Plan B or the morning after pill helps prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or after the failure of regular method birth control. It may be effective up 72 hours after unprotected sex, although effectiveness decreases the longer you wait.
Emergency contraception is now available without a prescription if you are 17 years or older. If you are 17 or under, Plan B requires a prescription. It can be purchased by both males and females. Proof of age is required.
HPV Vaccine (GARDASIL)
HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. Most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms and go away on their own. However, the virus can cause genital warts, abnormal Pap tests results, and cervical cancer.
GARDASIL protects against four major types of possible 40 types of HPV. These include two types that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer and two types that cause about 90 percent of genital warts. HPV vaccine can prevent most genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer.
The vaccine is safe and effective for males and females 9-26 years old, regardless of their sexual history. The HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series, with the second and third dose given 2 and 6 months after the first dose.
Contact UHS nursing personnel to discuss cost and to schedule an appointment.
- UHS Richard E. Lindner Center (Main Campus) 513-556-2564
- UHS Holmes Location (Medical Campus) 513-584-4457
Pregnancy Testing and Counseling
University Health Services offers pregnancy testing, options counseling and referrals. A urine pregnancy test is usually accurate one or two days after a missed period, or 14 days after unprotected intercourse. There are also several pregnancy test kits available for use at home. The advantage of using a kit at home would be convenience and privacy. The disadvantages are the chance of error and the cost.
If you are concerned about a positive result or think you may be pregnant, you may want to sort out your feelings and clarify your options. Please remember, you do have choices and we will help in any way we can, no matter what your choice.
Same day appointments based on availability are available for pregnancy testing and counseling.
Services for victims of sexual assault are provided by the University Health Services regardless of the duration of time since the assault occurred. If the sexual assault occurred within the last 72 hours, you will be encouraged to seek care at University Hospital where evidence can be collected.
This does not require you to make a police report. If you choose to be seen at University Health Services, evidence will not be collected. Concerns about sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy will be addressed, as well as a discussion of resources and a plan for follow-up care.
Other Campus Resources: If you are experiencing sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and/or stalking and would like to speak with someone, please contact one of the numbers below. A comprehensive list of resources can be found here: UC Safe web site
- UC Woman's Center: 513-556-4401
- UC Police: 513-556-1111
- WHW Advocates: 513-556-4418 or 513-381-5610
- Counseling Center: 513-556-0648
- Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards: 513-556-6812
- UC Legal Aid Clinic: 513-556-0193
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to have a pelvic/internal examination before starting birth control?
No. Students requesting a birth control method that requires a prescription need to have a contraceptive consultation, but a pelvic exam/ internal examination or Pap is not required before starting. During the consultation, we will review health history and discuss options for birth control. If you are a candidate for cervical cancer screening, this will be discussed during your visit.
What if I want to continue birth control prescribed by someone outside University Health Services?
Written prescriptions for your birth control method from a non-UHS clinician can be filled at the UHS Pharmacy. In order to comply with public health regulations, patients obtaining their prescriptions from UHS need to be under the care of a UHS provider. Prescriptions coming from a non UHS clinician may need to be rewritten by the UHS provider.
If a student is using the medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera®) birth control injection, UHS nursing can administer the injection if dispensed from the UHS Pharmacy, and the student has established care with a UHS provider. We will need documentation of the previous injection so we can ensure appropriate timing (12-15 weeks from the last injection).
What if I need to send my previous health records related to gender and sexual health to University Health Services?
You can send previous medical records in the following ways:
- Fax to University Health Services at 513-556-1337
- Mail to:
University Health Services
University of Cincinnati
PO Box 210010
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0010
- Bring a copy of your previous records with you at the time of your first visit to University Health Services
What should I do to prepare if I am having a cervical cancer screening (a "Pap") during my wellness visit?
If you are scheduled for a wellness visit that will include a cervical cancer screening test, please avoid douching or using any internal vaginal products (like lubricants, spermicide, creams) for 24 hours before your test. If you are bleeding heavily, we may ask you to reschedule your exam because large amounts of blood can affect the accuracy of the test.
What if I have an abnormal cervical cancer screening ("Pap")?
Some abnormal cervical cancer screening results require follow up with an additional test in 1 year. Other types of abnormal results require an additional procedure (called a "colposcopy") or additional treatment. We refer to our UC Health Gynecology physicians if additional procedures are needed.
What should I do before an IUD insertion?
In the 2 weeks prior to the IUD insertion, use a form of pregnancy prevention (either consistent use of a barrier method or other form of birth control) for any internal/vaginal sex with a partner with who could get you pregnant. The day of an IUD insertion, we recommend taking 800 mg of ibuprofen with food about 1 hour before the visit. (If you cannot take ibuprofen, you can take acetaminophen). On the day of the IUD insertion, the clinician will assess risk of pregnancy by asking about sex since the last menstrual period and a urine pregnancy test will be performed. The IUD insertion takes less than 10 minutes. You will be able to return to work, school and sports after the IUD insertion. IUDs and the arm implant are covered 100% by student health insurance. Students with other insurances should contact their insurance to see if the IUD is covered with University Health Services.