MASTERING MONDAY: GET YOURSELF TESTED
Many college students have large social circles and come in to contact with all different types of people. Whether you are in a monogamous relationship or you’ve been on 12 Tinder dates in the past month, it is important to take as many precautions as you can. Your health and well-being should be your main priority when it comes to sex. Getting yourself tested on a regular basis is one of the best ways to stay healthy and safe.
Jessica Ladd is the founder of Sexual Health Innovations (SHI); an organization that uses technology to improve sexual health. She talks about how most people are awkward when it comes to sex. In other words- especially if you do not know your sexual partner very well, there is now more talking going on before, during, and after a hook-up. This is probably because talking to your partner about sexual health is pretty taboo. It’s not on television, in movies, or even in high school health classes (most just encourage abstinence). A site called https://www.sotheycanknow.org/, allows people to anonymously inform their partners if they may be at risk of infection of a sexually transmitted disease. Jessica Ladd is on a mission to make sex even more awesome by making safe, healthy, informed sex the new norm.
The article below is a testimonial written by a teenage girl named Amber. She addresses some of the misconceptions about STDs. For example, she got an STD after having sex for the first time with her serious boyfriend. This article reiterates the point that ANYONE can get an STD. Virginal or experienced, young or old, smart or dumb, you are not immune.
- Buy an at-home test. If you don’t want to go to a clinic to get tested, there are still options available to you. You can get at-home tests at most drug stores, pharmacies and superstores (like Walmart). These tests range from $10-20 (give or take a little depending on the brand and the type of test).
- Know the symptoms. The Mayo Clinic has an article listing the signs and symptoms of the most common STDs. If you have the slightest suspicion that you have an STD, get yourself tested. Compare your symptoms here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/std-symptoms/art-20047081
- Know Your History. Keep track of your sexual history and if you and your partner are comfortable talking about it, share your histories with each other. It is important to keep track of your sexual experiences and how protected you were so that you can get a better idea of the probability of contraction.
- Get tested at a clinic. If you do not feel comfortable getting tested at school; you can just go to a clinic. You can go somewhere like Planned Parenthood or if you want a more private experience you can go to a familiar doctor of yours. For women, a gynecologist has expertise in this area.
- Stop the spread. If you find out that you have an STD, it is your responsibility to notify everyone that you come into intimate contact with. This includes anyone you suspect you could have gotten the disease from.
Written by Sarah Pasquarelli, Peer Educator
Photo Cred: cdc.gov/gyt