It’s Kay again, here to drop some knowledge about sex education.
Today we are going to be talking about the “monster under the bed” of sexy-fun-time, STIs.
I know that this is a totally unsexy topic, but we really have to talk about it, especially because a college campus has the tendency to become an STI playground.
Even though “the clap” sounds like a fun dance move, it’s not. It’s the slang term for Chlamydia, which is the most prevalent STI on campus, according to the Health Center.
There are many STIs that have many different symptoms, and some of them are so mild that the person who has it won’t even notice! That’s why it’s important to get tested often, and if something feels off with your genitalia, stop by your doctor’s office ASAP.
A good rule is to go every six months if you’re sexually active.
According to the CDC, the most common STI in the world is HPV, also known as Human Papilloma Virus, and the scary part about it is that men can’t be tested for it.
Yep – half the population can’t even be tested for it. That makes the spread and contraction of it so easy. HPV is a very common STI because of this, and can be a very serious infection, some strains of it can cause cervical cancer in women. Luckily, the Gardasil vaccine exists, and it protects against most of the cancerous strains.
According to Planned Parenthood, anyone under 45 can receive the vaccine but the first round is recommended between the ages of 11 and 12.
HPV can sometimes just clear up on its own, but still seek advice from your doctor if your annual exam comes back with abnormal results.
Many STIs can be cured with a quick course of antibiotics, like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Modern medicine is the real MVP.
There are a few STIs that don’t have a cure, like herpes. Herpes, commonly found around the mouth or genitals, is an infection that causes patches of red sores around the affected area during times when your immune system is compromised, and though the symptoms can be managed, there is no “cure,” according to the CDC.
The best way to keep your naughty-bits in great condition is to prevent STIs before they happen. Sadly, most STIs don’t have a vaccine that prevents them, but they aren’t unpreventable.
CONDOMS – use them. Every time. Most STIs are caused by skin-to-skin contact, so having your partner wear protection is the best choice. Even if you see no visible symptoms and your partner swears they’re “clean,” don’t slip up. Remember how many STIs don’t show symptoms?
Also use protection if you’re going to put a penis in your mouth or your butt, because those places are not immune to STIs. You can also get an STI from a mouth or a butt, so wrap it before you tap it.
I know what you’re thinking.
“My partner has a vagina. What do I do?”
Fear not friends. There is a thing called a dental dam, like a condom for the vulva and labia. These can be a little tricky to find, but luckily you can make one out of a regular old penis condom. Just snip the tip, cut up the side, and unroll your new sheet of protective plastic.
I’ve seen other “hacks” on the internet where you can use plastic bags or cling wrap. DO NOT DO THIS. Those items are porous and will allow any bacteria or viruses to be transferred. Condoms and dental dams are the best way to protect yourself when giving or receiving oral.
Some STIs can be transferred if contaminated genital fluid gets into an open wound, so if you want to put your fingers in a vagina and you have a paper cut, invest in some latex free gloves. I know it sounds weird, but who doesn’t want their hand to look like a sex toy? It also protects you and your partner.
The Health Center has all the condoms and dental dams you could ever need for free, so make sure to pay them a visit. They also offer free STI testing!
Keep our campus clean, guys. Sex is always more fun when it’s safe and worry free.
Be safe this Valentine’s Day.
[Editor’s note: Due to the unfortunate stigma surrounding women discussing sex, the author of this column has requested to use the pseudonym “Kay Ann.”]