Bodies are so diverse and unique, but one similarity that they share is their need to be taken care of.
There are various aspects to health, and sometimes it can seem like a lot to manage. As students and young adults, we are often told to put a heavy emphasis on our mental and physical health. It’s necessary for us to exercise, eat well and engage in self-care to ensure that we are the best versions of ourselves. But what often gets left out – due to a lack of adequate education regarding the subject, and the social attitudes towards it as a taboo topic is sexual health. This information isn’t only for those who are engaging in sexual activity. It’s important for everyone. It can be an awkward topic to ask around about, and as students, many don’t even know how or where to access these kinds of resources or what to be paying attention to. But when we are unsure, we shouldn’t be afraid or uncomfortable to ask for help. Everyone deserves to know how to approach sexuality and sexual relationships in a healthy, safe way. So here are four things that you can do to stay on top of your sexual health.
1) Get tested regularly
It is important to know that not all sexually transmitted diseases and infections have symptoms, and if left untreated could lead to more serious complications. Something as simple as taking a few minutes of your time and peeing into a cup could be all it takes to get answers to some very important questions. It’s free, it’s simple and you can do it right here on campus.
Last year in March, Niagara Region Public Health and Brock University Student Health Services hosted an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Day after noticing the increasing rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the Niagara region.
You can also receive testing all year round at your local Sexual Health Centre. The St. Catharines site is located at 227 Welland Ave. and is open Tuesday — Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Monday: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. This includes the Men’s Health Clinic for anyone who identifies as male.
All services are free, confidential, and do not require a health card.
2) Use protection…no, seriously
We’ve heard it so many times; from parents, teachers, even friends. But based on the high rates of unexpected pregnancies and STI’s, maybe we aren’t really listening.
There are various ways to be safe regardless of what kind of sexual activities you’re engaging in, or who you’re doing it with. And it’s important to know all of your options. Here are a few forms of protection for before, and even after sex:
- Female condoms
- Dental dams
- Birth control
- Morning after pill (Be sure to speak to a pharmacist or your doctor before taking this, or any other kind of emergency contraception. It will not be as effective for everyone, and should not be used by everyone. Know the effects of it and requirements to be able to use it)
There are free condoms on campus at the Student Justice Centre, Student Health Services, and should be accessible on your residence.
Take the short amount of time to use protection during sex to prevent the lifelong effects it can bring.
3) Understanding consent and the importance of communication
Part of a healthy sexual relationship is feeling comfortable around your sexual partner. Taking the time to communicate and figure out what your partner likes, doesn’t like, and what their desires are, will allow for a safe sexual experience. But even more importantly, be sure to communicate with them honestly about your sexual health. Tell the truth about your sexual history, past partners, and if you’ve had, or currently are living with a sexually transmitted disease or infection. Lying about this, or choosing to hide it is not consensual, and can be detrimental to your partner’s health.
4) Ask questions!
Talk to professionals if you have questions about your sexual health. Make use of the resources both on and off campus, and don’t be embarrassed by it!
Treat this aspect of your health with as much importance as you would with any other. It’s vital that we understand our bodies, how they work, changes that they go through, and how to take care of ourselves, because sexual health intersects with every aspect of our overall health.