As young adults, it is important to be proactive and in control of your sexual health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 20 million new cases of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) a year. However, half of these cases are found solely in young adult population, ages 15-24.
Taking control of your sexual health is important, especially if you do not want to become a part of the above statistic. In order to be proactive, you should strive to be conscious about being informed, getting tested, and learning about your options.
Being informed about your sexual health is as easy as Googling STIs or visiting the Women’s Center/ Health and Wellness center on campus. Since young, college age adults are the most susceptible population for STIs, it is important to learn how one can contract the infections.
Many STIs are caused by unprotected oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Therefore, it is important to have protected sex, especially if you are unfamiliar with your partner’s sexual history.
Many STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, do not show any symptoms, so it is important to be tested. As a rule of thumb, it is best to get tested annually or (if possible) in-between sexual partners.
If you keep up with annual OB/GYN or general doctor appointments, you usually do have the option of getting tested. However, if you are unable to do so, there are many places to get tested in West Chester; West Chester University’s Women’s Center holds a Get Yourself Tested event every year. Also, the Health and Wellness Center on campus, Planned Parenthood, and nearby clinics regularly provide STD testing—sometimes the testing is even free.
Clinics try to keep testing cost efficient because it is crucial for a person’s overall health. If someone does end up contracting an STI, testing will allow that person to receive the treatment they need and potentially avoid other health risks. There are many STIs, like gonorrhea, that can lead to infertility and/or pelvic inflammatory disease if the infection is left untreated.
It is important to be proactive about your sexual health. Many STIs are treatable; but, if you come across one that is not, then you have to learn what your options are. Many places, such as the health center on campus and Planned Parenthood in town, hold educational workshops where they teach the community about different STIs and even provide support for coping with the sexual infection or diseases. These workshops are especially helpful because they erase predisposed stigmas about the STIs as well as, teach the community how to live with the infection or the disease. If applicable, the workshops can also teach you how to avoid spreading the STI to sexual partners.
After learning about the different STIs and becoming aware of different testing methods and options available to you, this is a great time to decide what is right for YOU. There are many different people out there; therefore, it is inevitable that you will encounter a person who has different sexual preferences than you do. And this is ok, as long as you are comfortable with this. If you aren’t, speak up! Also, if it’s a new partner, do not be shy—ask them about their sexual history, and if they regularly get STI testing. This will help create a positive sexual experience and allow you to take control of your sex life and health.
Stephanie Frasca is a communications major and linguistics minor at West Chester University. She can be reached at SF767711@wcupa.edu.