|There`s No Such Thing as `Safe` Sex |
MATTE RELEASE-- (COLLEGIATE PRESSWIRE) --Nov 12, 2003-- College is often a time for many of us to learn about our sexual health. Some of us may explore it by dating casually, while others may choose long-term monogamous relationships while on campus. However you are exploring your sexuality, it is important to understand a key sexual health issue -- sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
By now, we`ve all heard about preventing STDs by engaging in safer sex practices and using condoms. However, according to a recent National College Health Assessment Survey, more than 20 percent of college students do not use a condom during sex and almost 40 percent said they did not use one the last time they had sex. Not using a condom places us at a greater risk for a number of STDs including genital herpes, which is one of the most common STDs in the United States affecting more than 45 million people. That includes about one in five students on this campus.
"College students are especially vulnerable to STDs for several reasons: perception of low risk, riskier sexual and substance use behaviors," said Lisa Gilbert, Ph.D., Director of Research, American Social Health Association. "However, by encouraging students to learn about STDs and adopting safer sex practices, we may be able to help reduce the spread of STDs and help students maintain good sexual health."
Living with an incurable STD can be an emotional burden for some. Many people become concerned about the future of their sex life or passing the disease on to a partner. For college students, the stigma may even be greater since living with an STD may distract them from their course work and sufferers may run the risk of being judged by friends and family. The good news is that there are simple actions we can take to improve our sexual health, including:
* See your doctor or visit the campus health center regularly
* Speak to your healthcare professional or doctor about getting tested, even in the absence of symptoms, and especially before you have sex with a new partner. These tests can be done during a routine visit to the doctor`s office or the campus health center
* Learn the signs and symptoms of STDs and seek medical help immediately if any suspicious symptoms develop
* Use a condom -- carefully and consistently -- for oral, vaginal, or anal sex
If you already have an STD, there are simple steps you can take including the following:
* Ask your doctor about treatment options
* Follow your doctor`s orders and complete the full course of medication prescribed
* Discuss with a doctor the possible risk of transmitting an STD to your partner
* Notify all recent sex partners about your condition and urge them to get a checkup
* Be open with your current partner
While it`s normal to feel embarrassed or frightened to ask for help or information, seeking treatment and asking questions is the best way to preserve your sexual health and reduce the risk of spreading an STD. Health professionals are available at the campus health center to confidentially answer your questions and counseling is available to help cope for those newly diagnosed. Or you can call the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines toll-free at (800) 227-8922 to speak with someone confidentially.
Knowledge is power and being informed about your sexual health can only improve your overall well being. Remember, there is no such thing as safe sex. Even if you think it`s not "cool" to ask questions or disclose information to your sexual partners, it`s definitely cooler than spreading an STD. For more information, you can also visit www.iwannaknow.org.