As young women, we’re faced with a lot of issues everyday. Relationships, work, career, school, family issues, our own health. Every issue manifests differently to different people, but there are some issues that are more taboo to talk about. One of those is sexually transmitted diseases and infections. No one wants to talk about them, but yet they still happen, so it’s important to have the facts so you know how to prevent them, how to treat them, and how to talk about them in a productive way to ensure prevention and treatment. 

I remember being in health class in high school and copying down charts of the signs of STDs and their names, struggling to spell chlamydia, and then moving on with my life and forgetting them. But there were lots of things about STDs and STIs not covered in schools, but luckily, there are resources out there. 

Here’s the 411: 

Safe sex is the best sex

There’s a reason they taught you to put a condom on a banana during college freshman orientation. Condoms help prevent the transmission of a lot of STDS, but they can still happen. Still, it’s better to wear a condom than to not wear one. Similarly, having just one partner can reduce the risk of STDs. Get tested regularly and have safe sex, kids. 

20 million new infections occur each year

You heard that right, my fellow kids. 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur in the US each year. That means that a lot of people you know, and maybe even you, will have an STD at some point in their life. Someone you have been intimate with may have an STD or have had one in the past. The only way to know is to get tested. 

15-24 years oldaccount for 50+% of new STD infections

STDs don’t wait until you’re in your 30s. New infections are occurring over half the time in teens and young adults, so don’t think your youth will protect you. With the increase in birth control, many young adults are eschewing condoms, but your birth control won’t protect you from STDs. 

Know what’s treatable, what’s curable, and what’s not

We’re lucky to live in a medically advanced society where getting an STD or STI doesn’t mean you’re going to die. Many STDs are treatable and curable, and others are no longer the death sentence they used to be–HIV, for example. Of course, treatment is a lot easier if you catch something early, so get tested regularly if you are sexually active. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all curable. Herpes is treatable, but not curable. The same goes for HIV. HPV or human papillomavirus is one of the most common STDs in the US today and while it’s not curable, it is treatable. Hepatitis A and C are curable, though at this time Hepatitis B is not.

Where you can get tested

In case you couldn’t tell by this point in the article, it’s important to get tested if you’re having sex. Some recommend getting tested every time you have a new sexual partner. Usually, your annual gynecological visit will include a test for the major STDs. However, if you notice any symptoms (unusual sores and rashes, pain, pus, etc) then you should schedule a test. Usually it can be done without having to have a full appointment, and you can get it done at your normal doctors office, though some lab work may be required. Most health departments and school health clinics also offer STD testing free of charge. There’s really no reason not to get tested these days. It’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg or a lot of time, and it can save you big time in the long run. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member