College is a time for learning and growth, and for some students, sexual activity. Some students will choose to engage, and others will not. Believe it or not, sex does happen in college. Becoming sexually active in college comes with a lot of risk. One in every four American will get an STD at some point in life, states a brochure given out by Health Service. This scary reality has Health Services speaking out on safe sex and how to prevent students from getting an STD.When students were asked to share what safe sex is, they gave a variety of answers.
“Not having it. If you do, use a contraceptive and a condom, not one or the other” a freshman said.
A freshman male said, “Pull-it-out.”
While a senior male said, “The only way to be safe is to be abstinent.”
A female student said, “The only true safe sex is if you are in a completely committed or exclusive relationship.”
Other students repeatedly said to use a condom or birth control or do not have sex at all.
With so many different views on safe sex, what is truly safe and what is not is questionable.
“We encourage prevention. There truly is no safe sex except for abstinence,” Nurse Scott Bilbrey said. “If you are going to have sexual relations, we encourage you to date awhile before engaging.”
Some problems nurses are seeing with STDs are patients coming in that have being drinking the night before or just had a one-night stand. When people drink, their inhibitions are low, and they do not always make clear, conscious choices. That includes with whom a person chooses to engage in sexual relations. An STD is easy to catch when having a one-night stand because partners may not know each others sexual history.
“Getting to know your partner before engaging in sexual relations is important,” Nurse Scott Bilbrey said. “Being honest about your past sexual history is as well.”
Having a good relationship with the person you chooses to become involved with is important because you can learn a lot about a person’s intentions and behaviors. This lowers inhibitions about a person. Each partner being tested for STDs before becoming sexually active is encouraged by Health Services. They do STD testing at Health Services, some for a fee and others free of charge. Testing does not take long and the results takes seven to 10 days to get back.
“Testing before, and a good relationship with the person is the best way to go,” Nurse Phyllis Kilgore said.
With Chlamydia and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) neck-and-neck on Tech’s campus, students should know that there is more than one way to get a STD. A person does not have to have sexual intercourse to catch an STD. That’s right. You can be a virgin and still get a STD. Oral sex is one way an STD can be transmitted.
“Be aware that if you kiss someone, they could have an STD in their throat,” Bilbrey said.
Students believe that putting a condom on is one of the safest way to go. However, you can still get pregnant and get STDs using a condom. It doesn’t prevent either of these. Health Services says one reason is because males do not know how to properly use them. Health Services offers a pamphlet on proper condom use. Another reason is that oil-based condoms break down; water-soluble condoms are less likely to break down.
“If someone comes in, we do have condoms available,” Bilbrey said. “All you have to do is sign-in by putting your name, T-number and a huge C with a circle around it, and we will give you a bag of condoms. It is done in a discrete manner.”
Students believe that using a contraceptive and “pulling-it out” are other safe ways to have sex. However, birth control is not always effective and you can get pregnant. If a woman is taking a prescribed medication, most commonly antibiotics, the medication can interact with the birth control, causing it to be ineffective. If the pill is not taken at the same time every day, the pill might not be as effective. “Pulling-it-out” is not a solution because pre-ejaculate most likely occurs. One can still become pregnant on pre-ejaculate fluids.
Health Services recommends that students check themselves regularly and take care of themselves to help lower the transmission of STDs.
“Don’t be afraid to look and see what you have going on ‘down there,'” Nurse Phyllis Kilgore said. “If you do not know what normal looks like, how will you know what something abnormal looks like.”
Bilbrey says, “Do not shave ‘down there,’ trim. The open pores you get when shaving can allow in bacteria.”
Health Services is always there for students to talk. There are male and female nurses to make patients more comfortable, and everything is 100 percent confidential.
“If there is any question in your mind whether you have an STD or not, call Health Services and make an appointment.” Tompkins said.
This list can be overwhelming. How do you know what to look for? How can you catch it? If you don’t get treated, what can happen? Health Services has a brochure that answers all these questions about each STD, and it is available to everyone.
“Don’t listen to what people say,” Kilgore said. “Be educated.”
For more information on STD testing or to make an appointment, contact Health Services at 931-372-3320.