By Sara Choate —
How do I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection?
Some people are asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs or symptoms of having a sexually transmitted infection. As a result, they may unknowingly transfer it to their partner or partners. Others may suspect they have an STI because there’s a noticeable change in their bodily functions. The typical symptom is a burning sensation when you pee. Other possible symptoms of an STI could include: genital/anal itching, unusually colored discharge, vaginal odor, abdominal pain, discomfort or pain during intercourse, to name a few.
Whether or not you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s crucial you get tested regularly (every six months) for STIs and HIV if you’re sexually active. If you have multiple partners, it’s best to get tested every three months. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the long-term effects some STIs can have on your health. I encourage you to set up an appointment at Campus Health Services (locations at Cardinal Station and HSC) and be sure to pick up some free safer sex supplies while you’re there.
What’s the best form of birth control?
Luckily, we live in an era of many effective forms of birth control, and therefore we have many options to choose from. Before you make a choice based on what you’ve read or heard from a friend, I would encourage you to do your own research to decide what form will work best for you and your body. You can go about this in a few different ways. Planned Parenthood offers an online tool called My Method that allows you to answer a series of questions to figure out your birth control needs based a variety of life factors. Such questions include:
· Would your sex partner(s) be ok using a condom?
· Would you be ok stopping sex play for a couple of minutes to put your birth control in place?
· Would you remember to take a pill every day?
· Are you afraid of needles?
· Are you OK with using hormones for birth control?
· What is most important to you when choosing a birth control method?
If you’re not comfortable using the My Method tool, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with the wonderfully knowledgeable doctors and nurse practitioners at Campus Health Services. They will spend as much time as you need to decide the best birth control method for your body, lifestyle and values.
Got questions about sex? Email them to [email protected]