College is a huge sex playground. C’mon, let’s keep it real! After not having much (or any at all) sexual freedom under our guardian’s roof, we tend to get a little frisky in college. There’s nothing wrong with being sexually liberated but it’s important to be mindful about the status of your sexual health. Most college students do not get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as much as they should. Additionally, college students with multiple partners put many people at risk as STDs are easily transferable through body fluids—by way of sexual intercourse or oral sex. One of the most common STDs among college campuses and dormitories is chlamydia. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention reported that people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for about 63 percent of all chlamydia cases in 2017.
Photo by CDC
This information can be shocking, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Practicing safe sex and having clean sexual hygiene can protect you from being diagnosed with chlamydia because it’s caused by bacteria. There is a common misconception among college students that they are ‘immune’ to receiving sexually transmitted diseases.
Tricia*, a student at Georgia State University, revealed in an interview: “I had absolutely no idea. I honestly thought I was their only partner. It’s very important to me to get tested regularly now because I wasn’t educated enough to know how common chlamydia actually is.”
If you are sexually active in college, you have either already been treated for chlamydia or are at risk of being diagnosed with it. With that being said, there should be an initiative made to be tested after every new partner. This seems excessive but it’s realistically the only way to make sure you’re healthy and don’t put other people at risk.
There are a few ways you can go about testing. One, you can ask your primary doctor to refer you to a gynecologist who will test you for any sexually transmitted infections. If you have health insurance, you should only have to pay a copay. Two, you can visit a health center to get tested like the Student Health Clinic. Health centers and clinics deliver your results very quickly but you have to pay. Third, you can visit a non-profit organization such as Aid Atlanta, located only 10 minutes from the GSU Atlanta campus. Keep in mind that testing at non-profit centers usually takes about two weeks to receive your results. If you decide to pay and go to a clinic, you should receive your results within a few days depending on the clinic.
There are a few ways you can have safer sex in college. Male condoms are the obvious answer but keep in mind that they do not cover the testicles. Therefore, it’s still possible to receive an STD even if you are using a condom.
Get The Facts states the following, “Condoms are 98% effective at protecting against most STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, condoms don’t protect you from all STIs such as herpes, genital warts and syphilis which can be spread from skin-to-skin contact.”
The most effective way to not receive chlamydia is to practice very good hygiene. Doing so ensures that you aren’t creating a bacterial environment that chlamydia needs to thrive. Make sure that you are washing your intimate area everyday and properly drying it after bathing to avoid creating a moist environment for bacteria.
Making it a necessity in your life to get tested after every new partner will help you to stay on top of yours as well as your partner’s sexual health. It’s also very important to have honest conversations with your partner about their sex life as well. If your partner can’t be honest with you about who they’re having sex with, then you shouldn’t be having sex with them. If your partner doesn’t want to get tested or doesn’t see it as an obligation, then you shouldn’t be having sex with them.
Taking care of your sexual health is just as important as taking care of your physical or mental health. Chlamydia is more common than we will ever know because of the stigma around sexual health on college campuses. However, with further educating of our peers and their sex lives, we can make it a safer place for everyone.
*Subject’s name has been changed to protect their identity.