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And while we’re on the subject, April is GYT (Get Yourself Tested) Month! At Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and at the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, we will be offering free STI testing.
At PPSLR, patients ages 25 and younger will be able to receive free gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV testing, with only a $15 visit co-pay. Patients older than 25 can get free gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, again with a small co-pay.
PPKM is offering free testing for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and HIV at eight of their nine health centers, although an office visit charge will apply.
April is STD Awareness Month.
Share this post to raise awareness.
By the age of 25, half of all sexually active people will have contracted at least one STD. Because most of these people are unaware of their disease status, they may continue to spread STDs to others by having unprotected sex. This includes HIV.
Planned Parenthood and other clinics may provide testing services at little or no cost to those who would otherwise not be able to afford these services. Testing may be as easy as providing a urine sample or having a blood test.
For more information:
Safe, protected sex helps prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases. Safe sex also helps prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Teenagers are going to continue having sex, no matter how much abstinence-only education they get. Let’s keep them informed about their options, starting with an emphasis on safe, protected sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. And let’s give them alternative options for more “wholesome” activities by promoting after-school programs, maintaining art programs at schools, and getting them interested in and excited about what else makes them special individuals.
It’s been pointed out that a few of our Common Excuses to Not Use a Condom could be viable reasons to, in fact, not use a condom. And that’s right!
Not all partners need condoms. Birth control plans and methods of preventing the spread of STIs need to be tailored to suit the needs of the individual and the partnership.
Condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are not used for a variety of reasons. Some examples include but are not limited to situations in which:
- Partners have been tested and are free of STIs.
- Partners are in a committed relationship (keep in mind this does not only apply to partnerships in which there are only two people) and are not being put at risk of contracting HIV/STIs outside of the relationship.
- Partners are not trying to prevent a pregnancy or cannot produce a pregnancy. (not using a condom for this reason could still put someone at risk of contracting an STI. That being said, see the first bullet)
- Partners are using different forms of barrier methods, such as diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges. (these methods alone do not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
- A partner is using a hormonal birth control correctly and consistently, including the pill, IUD, depo shot, Ortho-Evra patch, vaginal ring, and Implanon. (hormonal birth control does not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
The other reality is: sex does not always occur in situations like the ones listed above, and that’s where condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are essential in protecting one’s health. Some people, regardless of circumstance, simply do not enjoy performing oral sex without a condom or dental dam. Some people just want to have an extra precaution. No matter what, condoms are there as an option!
1. Condoms fail all the time!
Actually, when used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy (for couples in which one partner can impregnate and the other can become pregnant). They also help prevent the spread of HIV and STDs.
2. They don’t feel good / I just don’t like them.
If you didn’t like the brand of soap you used, would you automatically stop using soap? If your refrigerator wasn’t cold enough, would you just stop refrigerating your food? No way! The same goes for condoms, if you didn’t like one brand, experiment with different brands! Condoms come in all sorts of sizes, materials, colors, textures, and flavors. If you experienced discomfort with a certain type of condom, you may need a larger or smaller size. Polyurethane condoms are available for those with latex allergies, as well as female/internal condoms which are made of nitrile. While sensation during sex may reduce slightly, the use of lubricants, the thinness of these materials, and their varieties of features can maximize pleasure. Safer is sexier, folks.
3. I am / My partner is on a hormonal birth control, we don’t need condoms.
Using hormonal birth control inconsistently or with certain other medications that interfere with the birth control can reduce its effectiveness. Birth control also does not prevent the contraction of HIV/STDs.
4. I trust that my partner doesn’t have STD’s.
Unfortunately, people can lie about their status or about whether they have been having sex outside of the relationship and inadvertently put their partner at risk of contracting HIV/STDs. Most people who have an STD are not even aware of it because they display no symptoms. If your partner claims that they have never had sex, ask them what they constitute as sex. One might not consider oral sex or some form of genital contact to be “real sex,” but both can increase the risk of contracting an STD. Want to be sure of your and your partner’s status? Get tested together! It can be a great bonding experience and help build trust in your sex lives. Testing and treatment (as well as condoms!) are free or offered at low cost at Planned Parenthood.
5. But it’s just oral sex!
STDs are passed through the exchange of genital fluids as well as skin-to-skin contact, therefore condoms and dental dams should still be used during oral sex. Also, STDs such as herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can be located in the throat or genitals and be passed through oral sex.
6. We “pull-out.”
The pull-out method can be ineffective due to pre-ejaculation. Prior to ejaculation, some seminal fluids are released and can contain sperm. Even if semen is ejaculated onto the vulva, the sperm can still travel into the vagina. Some may find it difficult to time themselves just right in order to pull out and keep their penis away from the vulva before ejaculation. Pulling-out does not reduce ones risk of contracting HIV/STDs.
7. Putting on a condom ruins the mood/spontaneity.
Nothing really ruins the mood like an STD or unwanted pregnancy. With practice, condoms can take just seconds to put on correctly. Having your partner help you put the condom on can be pretty hot, too. Female/internal condoms can be inserted up to a few hours prior to sex to preserve the spontaneity.
What are some excuses you’ve heard?
Latinas have the highest cervical cancer rates in the country and the third highest death rate from cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a very common sexually transmitted infection. There are hundreds of HPV types, but two of them, types 16 and 18, are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers: when caught early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. During National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (January), it is important to remind women that the keys to combating cervical cancer are getting the HPV vaccination before sexual intimacy and getting routine screenings. Cervical cancer takes many years to develop, so regular Pap tests will help detect any precancerous or abnormal cells early enough to allow cervical cancer to be prevented.