Say Ah: STDs


By Donna Patrick, ANP
Special to the Sun Star

What are STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)?

  • They are infections you transmit or receive during sexual contact.
  • Names of organisms which cause STDs are Chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV.


How do you catch an STD?

  • You catch an STD by having sex.
  • Some STD’s spread when body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, blood) get passed during sex.  Others spread by touching infected areas.
  • You can also catch an STD if sex involves the mouth (oral sex), or anus (anal sex).


Who is at risk for getting an STD?

  • People who have had more than one sex partner
  • People whose partner has had more than one sex partner
  • People who don’t use condoms


What are the symptoms of an STD?

Women:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Sores or blisters in the genital area
  • Lumps or bumps in the genital area
  • Itching around the genitals
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Sometimes NO symptoms at all!

Men:

  • Discharge or drip from the penis
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Sores or blisters in the genital area
  • Lumps or bumps in the genital area
  • Itching around the genitals
  • Pain in the genitals or rectum
  • No symptoms at all sometimes!


What do I do if I think I have an STD?

  • Stop having sex
  • See your health care provider for an evaluation as soon as possible.  Testing usually includes a urine and/or blood sample.  There is no charge to the student for these tests


Can STDs be treated?

  • Some STDs are bacterial and can be treated and cured with antibiotics
  • Other STDs can’t be cured but may be managed with medications or other treatment methods


How do I reduce my risk of getting an STD?

  • The only sure way to prevent STDs is abstinence (not having ANY kind of sex)
  • If you decide to have sex:
    • Plan ahead for safer sex
      • Practice what you’ll say and do
      • Keep condoms handy ( There are some in the restrooms at the Student Health and Counseling Center)
    • Communicate with your partner about safer sex
      • Say “no” to unsafe sex
    • Limit your number of sex partners
    • Get regular STD Screenings if you engage in any high risk behaviors


I don’t have any symptoms but I just want to get checked for STDs because I am beginning a new relationship.  Can I get tested at the Health Center?

Yes. Just call us at 474-7043 and say you would like to make an appointment for an STD screening test. If you are having any of the above symptoms, however, you need to make an appointment for a STD test and you need to be seen as soon as possible.

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