Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases

Despite the title of our playlist, the test would come back positive for almost 10 million students between the ages of 15 and 24. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise at college campuses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with students contracting them at double the rate of any other age group. 

Several causes may be responsible for the rise, including a decline in the use of condoms, an increase in the use of dating apps for casual sex and poor sexual education classes. 

There’s no need to fear, however, as there are many easy ways to decrease your risk for getting an STD.

While most STDs are curable, leaving one untreated for too long could become permanent or could have adverse effects on your health later in life. That’s why students—or anyone for that matter—shouldn’t be afraid to get tested. Talk with your partner about your sexual histories and ask that both of you be tested to be sure you’re STD and STI free. 

Many STDs have no visible symptoms and can spread without your knowledge. There’s only one way to be sure, so head to Lauderdale Health Center. It provides a free reproductive health clinic on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. where you can make sure you’re being responsible about your sexual health. 

With that in mind, keep an eye out for symptoms of common STDs. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis can all cause visible symptoms. 

For example, chlamydia—which is a bacterial infection of the genital tract—can cause pain during urination, abdominal cramps, discharge, bleeding between periods and testicular pain. Despite these symptoms, chlamydia is easy to cure. A short course of antibiotics and remaining abstinent for a week to prevent transmission does the trick. 

Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection of the genital tract, but it has slightly different symptoms. It can cause heavier periods, swollen testicles, a burning feeling when urinating and anal itching. It too can be cured with antibiotics, usually in a single dose of ceftriaxone and azithromycin. 

Trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral STI in the United Sates, often causes no symptoms at all. And when it does, they can arrive much later than infection, allowing the disease to spread to other partners. 

Symptoms of trichomoniasis typically include abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal penis discharge, genital itching and irritation and pain during sex and urination. Trichomoniasis can be treated only with the nitroimidazoles, which is a class of antimicrobial drugs; with two cycles of the medicine, however, it can be cured. 

The best way to protect yourself is through safe sex with your partner. Communicate with your partner about their sexual history and get tested regularly. Use condoms, dental dams and rubber gloves to prevent the transmission of STDs through skin-to-skin contact. 

Taking birth control will prevent pregnancy, but it does not protect you from STDs and STIs. If you don’t know someone’s test results, wear a barrier device. 

With these strategies and the help of Lauderdale Health Services, Geneseo students can prevent and treat the rising trend of STDs. Whether it’s a casual hookup or a four-year relationship, get tested and make sure lines of communication are open with your partner. 

This way, you can have the fun of sex without the worry of STDs.