Students dismiss the importance of sexual health

When it comes to personal health, many people will see a doctor or physician at any sign of trouble. Unfortunately it is often the opposite when it comes to sexual health. Many people see discussing their sexual health as being taboo, when in fact it should be the exact opposite. Talking about it is very important, especially if there are signs or symptoms of a problem.

Many people are scared to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or ask about their sexual health because of myths that exist about it. Some of these myths respond to confidentiality. Many people are worried that if they test, their friends, colleagues, or parents might find out about it. The truth is that many places offer confidential testing and treatment, where all information is held between the patient and provider.

Other people are worried that the testing process is painful or uncomfortable, when in fact one can test for almost every STD with either a blood or urine sample. If a blood draw sounds uncomfortable, it may help to know that it involves only a small needle and a short time of actual drawing.

Some individuals are concerned that if they contract an STD they will have it for life. In reality all STDs can be treated, and most of them can be cured. Curable diseases include syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. STDs that cannot be cured, but are treatable are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes.

A lot of people believe that if they haven’t had sex they cannot receive an STD. The truth is that STDs can be contracted through oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. If someone has had any of these types of intercourse it might be a good idea to get tested.

But if you’re not showing any signs of symptoms there’s no need to get tested, right? Wrong, many STDs progress without showing symptoms in certain individuals. While not having any symptoms is a great sign, nevertheless it is probably a good idea to get tested if you’ve had any risky sexual behaviors.

Keep in mind that condoms, when used correctly, do a great job of protecting people against STDs. However, things like herpes that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact can still be contracted even when using a condom. For that reason you should always be aware of symptoms that may exist where the condom did not cover. Herpes can also be carried orally in the form of a cold sore. While cold sores are common and not something to be worried about, it is important to be aware of them on yourself or on partners because they can transmit the type-1 herpes virus through skin-to-skin contact as well.

Carrying on or starting a relationship with an STD can be difficult or uncomfortable in some situations.  A suggestion for getting through this is to be knowledgeable about your STD. The more you know about it, the better you will be able to inform your partners and make smart decisions. If you have a current partner at the time of diagnosis, they should be tested and treated as well for the STD. If the STD is incurable, stay adherent to the medication and make sure you inform any potential partners of your infection before any sexual contact.

If you decide to do some testing, make sure you are open and honest about any symptoms, possible exposures, or recent partners you’ve had when you speak with someone. They use this information to make sure you are doing the right tests at the right time so you don’t receive any false results.

Some final words of wisdom are “treat your body like you treat your toothbrush – don’t share it with everybody… STDs are equal opportunity employers. They don’t discriminate.”

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