Sexual health is vital to students’ well-being, as well as their academic performance. The Journal…
Using A Condom: It’s Better Than Getting An STD
By Tony Laurence
Look around wherever you are and count the next five people you see. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of those five individuals has a sexually transmitted disease. Some people aren’t even aware they have an STD, as some do not have any noticeable symptoms. The CDC estimates 50 percent of all sexually active youth will contract an STD by the age of 25. Take a minute, if you would like, to take this all in. You may now proceed to pick up your jaw from the floor. If this does not surprise and alarm you as much as it did me, it should — especially if you are a young college student.
This is because STDs are more common in young adults over all other age groups combined. People between the ages of 18 and 24 contract chlamydia and gonorrhea at four times the rate than all other age groups combined. Unprotected sex cannot only lead to lifelong and life-altering infections, but it can also lead to a miniature version of yourself running around your apartment or your parent’s house. But you are in luck. There are safer options you can choose besides the “pull-and-pray” method that prevents these problems from occurring in the first place.
The prudence used regarding most of the mundane decisions you make throughout your day are insignificant. The choices that really matter involve your health and well-being. Because of this lack of knowledge and the inability to grasp the gravity of the consequences of unprotected sex, a benign and avoidable issue has become a malignant and unavoidable epidemic. Despite this, many college students take advantage of every chance they get to avoid the internal dialogue required in order to make the right decision over the easy decision — whether after a long night of drinking with friends or after a candle lit dinner with someone they love. The decision that needs to be made is to use contraception, but a poll conducted by the National Institute of Health concluded only 25 percent of collegiate respondents use condoms during sex.
There are other options aside from using condoms. Your local priest or pastor is right; abstinence is the only way you can be 100 percent sure you will not contract an STD or gain a cute, crying and costly addition to your family. However, the practicality of convincing college students to not have sex at this age is nonexistent. Most college students have already taken off their chastity rings. If you are currently sexually active, you have probably already recognized the benefits of such a lifestyle. Having sex reduces stress, burns calories, improves heart health, boosts self-esteem, creates more intimacy with your significant other and obviously it helps you sleep better. In men, it can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and in women, it can prevent incontinence later in life. People that regularly have sex suffer less from depression due to the elevated releasing of internal neurochemicals during and after climax, like norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
In any event, it makes more sense to educate students about safe sex as opposed to advising them to not have sex at all. The best way to do this is through an institutional approach. There are some universities that provide educational programs, free condoms and free STD testing, but multiple universities have not caught on that it is in their interest to educate their students about how to not get pregnant and how to not contract an STD. Webster University falls somewhere in the middle. Our hardly noticeable health center does hand out free condoms, student organizations put on AIDS awareness events and informational packets regarding AIDS are scattered around campus. But unless you are out to educate yourself, Webster falls short in comparison to other institutions. In the end, it is your responsibility to stay healthy. The risks are high; St. Louis has one of the highest infection rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia in the country. Take advantage of the free condoms in the health center, get yourself tested at least once a year if you are sexually active and stop dating promiscuous people. For all you know, they might have cooties.
Tony Laurence is the Journal Opinions Editor