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What is consent?

Consent is an agreement between people that is made before and/or during sexual activity. It's important to talk about and agree on sex acts. This may include the type of sex act, the type of protection to use or not use, and ways to stay safe. This can help you and your partner(s) respect each other's boundaries.

How does consent work in real life?

  • Let's talk about this first.
  • Does this feel good?
  • I like it when you….
  • If I change my mind, we need to stop.
  • We should decide on a safe word.
  • Yes, that sounds like fun.
  • I'm not into that, I like this instead.
  • Is this OK with you?
  • Would you like me to….?
  • I'll tell you what turns me on….

Consent is about talking through and giving permission for one activity, one time. It does not mean giving consent for increased or repeated sexual contact.

You can change your mind at any time and any point if you feel uneasy even if you felt that you wanted to or agreed to have sex at some point before.

Example "No, Let's stop. I'm not ready", "Put on a condom before we..."

Positive consent can look like this:

  • Them - "Is this OK?"
  • You - "yes" or "I'm open to trying."

What's not consent:

  • Saying "no"
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Being pressured, coerced, or forced
  • Silence
  • Sex with someone under the age of 17 (in New York).

People aged 16 or younger in New York are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity could result in prosecution for statutory rape.

For resources on sexual violence prevention and care visit Sexual Violence Prevention Program

Talking openly and honestly with your sex partner(s):

  • Be clear about what you want during sex- Example: "I like anal intercourse" or "I'm only into oral sex".
  • Talk about what types of protection you will use before you have sex (condoms, dental dams, contraceptives, PrEP, EPT, Doxy-PEP etc.).
  • Talk about the last time you both were tested for sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. If unsure, ask to get tested together before having sex.

Remember, sexual health is about informed choices, safety, and respectful experiences.

The Office of Sexual Health and Epidemiology offers resources to find tips on how to talk with your health care provider; speak openly with your sexual partner(s), and explore important sexual health topics which include: Prevention, Pleasure and Power, Knowing Yourself, Testing, Consent, Talking to providers and partners, information on sexually transmitted infections and Partner Services.

Questions? Contact us at