Protect your sexual health this April

Dear Editor,

As college students, it is difficult to prioritize our well-being above the multitude of deadlines and engagements which are forever piling up. However, taking care of our health doesn’t have to be time consuming or an unnecessary burden; in fact, it can be as easy and quick as a mouth-swab! A great way to take care of ourselves and contribute to a better, healthier campus and community is by taking care of our sexual health. The well-being of the whole of our campus community depends on the good sexual health practices of every student.

Getting yourself tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and it’s easy, quick, and painless. Rapid HIV tests can give you results in as fast as 20 minutes from just a swab inside the mouth. Getting tested is also entirely confidential.

Using condoms and dental dams consistently and correctly provides the best protection against STDs, and are crucial to safe sexual health practices. They also don’t have to take the pleasure out of sex! People who use such protections have rated their sexual experiences as just as pleasurable as people who don’t.

Talking with your partner about STD testing is equally as important. If you have a consistent sexual partner, you should talk with them about STD testing. It doesn’t have to be hard or uncomfortable. You can start with something like, “I read this really great op-ed that talked about good sexual health practices and it made me realize how important it is for our sexual health if we get tested. Do you want to do that together?” You may be surprised at how your partner reacts. One survey found that most young people said they would be glad STD testing was suggested by their partner (78 percent) and that it reflects their partner being responsible (89 percent). And if you have an STD, tell your partner. These conversations may seem hard to have, but open communication with your partner is essential to staying healthy and stopping the spread of STDs.

So, to recap: good sexual health does not discriminate to against sexual orientation, sexual practices, or number/longevity of partners. Everyone can do their part to protect personal as well as communal sexual well-being by always using protection and getting a quick and pain-free STD test.

This month, make a plan to GYT and keep yourself and your campus healthy. Visit PlannedParenthood.org to find a health center near you for STD testing, treatment, and information to help you take charge of your sexual health.

Sincerely, 

Anne Moyerbrailean