Sex in College: Here's What You Need to Know

We all have watched the movies, TV shows and read the books about life in college. We spent four years in high school working towards the moment where we open that letter and see those bolded words that say, “Congratulations!" College is what many dream about, an opportunity to leave home and go somewhere new. It's a place where you meet your best friends and create these wild memories you'll never forget. However, let’s talk about what doesn’t get any recognition for being notorious on college campuses all around the world: STDs. Yes, we’re going to have the talk.

Sex is normal and so are STDs. First off, there is nothing wrong with having sex. It is your choice and your body to do whatever you are comfortable with. But, if you are having sex, it’s your responsibility to stay informed. It can be scary when you don’t have the necessary information to understand what can happen and how. 

There are various ways you can contract an STI or STD. Transmission can happen through unprotected oral or penetrative sex, sexual fluids, blood, open wounds, etc. Most of the time, even after transmission happens, the carrier is asymptomatic. This means they don’t experience any symptoms and have no clue they are a carrier, which is how the majority of people contract STI’s. STI’s are so common that according to the World Health Organization, 47.8% of Americans between the ages of 14-49 carry the HSV-1 virus. Also, the CDC estimates that 1.17 million Americans contract gonorrhea every year and nearly 2 million Americans have contracted chlamydia.                  

So, if STIs are so common, how can you prevent one? First, understand your body. Maintaining at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night can greatly improve your immune system, along with eating well and staying active. It can be difficult in college to eat well, go to the gym and sleep for at least 6 hours, while also balancing school, a social life, and leisure time. It’s okay not to be 100% healthy all of the time. There are other ways to keep your body safe, however, like using condoms. Using condoms can reduce the chances of contracting an STI and combined with antivirals can bring the chances of transmission around 1%.

Another way to protect yourself is to have an open conversation with your primary care doctor. Come up with a list of questions about anything and everything regarding your life, including your sex and social life. Don’t be scared to ask your doctor about topics that might seem embarrassing. And if you are having sex with multiple people, make sure to regularly get tested for STDs. Getting tested is another way to keep yourself informed about your body, which is the best way to protect yourself. 

Lastly, if you or your partner test positive for an STI, understand that this is completely normal and okay. However, if you do test positive, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. They will tell you everything you need to know and present you with treatment options. Talk to your sexual partners and have an open conversation. STIs are not a death sentence to your sex life. It doesn’t diminish your value or who you are as a person. An overwhelming majority of those who have been diagnosed lead healthy sex lives and have perfectly healthy children.

Live your life in the know, because sex is best when you’re happy, comfortable and safe!