Healthy Sex

According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois, healthy sex occurs when you have “CERTS,” which stands for:

  • Consent
  • Equality
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Safety

CERTS can help you feel more secure in your relationship and increase your level of self-esteem. Check this chart for more information on CERTS.


You can freely and comfortably choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. You are able to stop the activity at any time during the sexual contact.


Your sense of personal power is on an equal level with your partner. Neither of you dominate the other (unless this is part of a pre-scripted sex play to which you both consent).


You have positive regard for yourself and for your partner. You feel respected by your partner and you respect him or her.


You trust your partner on both a physical and emotional level. You have mutual acceptance of vulnerability and an ability to respond to it with sensitivity.


You feel secure and safe within the sexual setting. You are comfortable with and assertive about where, when and how the sexual activity take place. You feel safe from the possibility of harm, such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection and physical injury.

For more information on CERTS, visit McKinley Health Center.

Safe Sex

Safety is a key part of healthy sex, including protecting yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Stay informed on the latest information on disease prevention and birth control by reading materials from the local heath department or reputable health education websites. Don’t hesitate to talk to your provider as well.

Wendy Maltz, an internationally recognized author and sex therapist, provides a Healthy Sex Risks Checklist to test your knowledge of health involved in sexual activity.