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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Simmons chapter.

Great! Now that I have gotten your attention with my eye catching title, let’s talk about something insanely important…sex. More specifically, let’s talk about safe sex and the epidemic that should absolutely terrify us all.


In the United States alone, more than 20 million new cases of STIs have been reported in the last year. Scarily enough, young people from the ages 15-24 make up for just about half of those. In the past 10 years, the number of STI cases has nearly tripled. In a time where medical innovation and knowledge is at its peak, this should not be the case. This is horrifying!


What is an STI?

An STI, also known as an STD, is a sexually transmitted infection passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal or oral sex via skin to skin contact, semen, precum, vaginal fluids or blood.

If an STI is left untreated, it can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, increased risk of contracting HIV, organ damage, certain types of cancer and even death.


Common types of STIs

Chlamydia- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/chlamydia

Gonorrhea- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/gonorrhea

Syphilis- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/syphilis

HPV- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hpv

Herpes- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/herpes

Genital Warts- https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/genital-warts


How do you know if you have one?

Well that’s a good question… you don’t, at least not until you get tested. The majority of STIs have no signs or symptoms. Even with no symptoms, you can pass the infection to your sex partners. That’s why it’s so important to use protection during sex and get tested regularly. I’m not saying you should go every week, but going at least once a year should be just as effective.


Why are STIs highest among college aged individuals?

  • Hormones

    • Increase in hormones leads to increase in sexual drive

  • Risky Behaviors

    • More likely to take risks during adolescence

  • “It can’t happen to me” attitude

  • Budget cuts in legislation

    • Defunding sex ed programs

  • Abstinence Based Education

    • Young adults are going to have sex no matter what. They need to be taught how to be safe for if and when it happens

    • 87% programs allow parents to excuse their children from sex ed

  • Hesitation to talk openly about sex – “mistrust” and “shame”

    • Slut shaming fear

    • Mistrust in doctors, nurses, parents

  • Long term birth control methods

    • IUD, arm implant, etc.

    • The idea that you don’t have to use condoms because these cover all the bases. THEY DO NOT PREVENT STIs!

  • Better Treatment Options

    • Taking a pill will cure me right? Wrong! Many of STIs are lifelong and can seriously impact your life

  • Accessibility

    • Lack of insurance or transportation

  • Multiple partners

    • People are still experimenting and finding the right partner to settle down with

  • Opioid Epidemic

    • With an increase in opioid use, there’s an increase in unsafe and non-consensual sex


What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Use condoms! (Male condoms, female condoms, dental dams)

  • Get tested! So many places offer free testing. A quick Google search will allow you to see which location is closest to you.

  • Talk! Have a conversation with your partner about safe sex and sexual history. This may be awkward, but it shouldn’t be. These are responsibilities that come along with being sexually active.


Don’t get me wrong, sex is great, but SAFE SEX is even better!


Check out these data trends! The rise in STIs, especially among college aged individuals, is frightening!

Image credit to Centers for Disease Control

For more information on types of STI’s, testing and treatment visit: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex

Please enjoy this song by Cheat Codes x Kris Kros Amsterdam about sex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzdGtGHfnlk

21 years old • Maine • Fourth year exercise science student with dreams of becoming a physical therapist