Sexual Health and the College Student
Welcome to the November 2010 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter. The Health Matters
Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is
linked to the weekly Campus Report. The purpose of the newsletter is to share information,
regarding pertinent medical issues and health and wellness suggestions with the students,
faculty and staff here at SUNY Fredonia. This month's topics include:
Sexual Health & the College Student
The Facts About Sexual Transmitted Diseases
What about Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Urinary Tract Infections, they can be prevented
National Smoke Out Day is November 18th
Sexual Health and the College Student
By: Megghan Connolly
Sexual Health is one of the most important issues as well as one of the most overlooked
among college students today. As much as we college students may not want to talk
about it, especially with our doctors, many students are engaging in sexual activity.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the proper precautions are being put
to use. The best way to get people to consider these precautions is to inform them
of the risks associated with unsafe sex.
Studies show “Somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of college students are or have
been infected with an STD”. STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) can be passed on
through many different types of sexual contact. The good news is that there are a
lot of very effective methods in preventing these types of infections or diseases.
Although many STD’s are curable with antibiotics, some of the more scary ones such
as HPV and Herpes are not. The biggest problem is however, not knowing that you may
have an STD. Many STD’s do not show symptoms right away; some may even clear up on
their own without the infected person ever knowing that they contracted it and potentially
passed it on to someone else. This is why it is absolutely essential to get tested
regularly for STD’s.
Some college students at times seem more than willing to “hit the sack” with someone
they barely know or may have even just met. Many times this type of behavior is associated
with alcohol consumption; something we all know is common among students. Practicing
safe sex in this type of situation is even more important. A regretful choice on one
night can affect every aspect of your future health including fertility, cancer risk,
or passing something to a spouse or significant other. HPV in particular; the STD
that can cause infertility or cervical cancer in women, is very dangerous. HPV cannot
be tested for in men at the current time, so a man may never know that he is a carrier
of the virus until it is passed on to a woman. Knowing this information, there are
a few basic tips to give to college students to protect their sexual health:
Always use condoms, ALWAYS. No excuses. – This includes oral sex as most STD’s can
also be transmitted through the mouth as well. Many STD’s can be prevented with the
correct use of a condom. Carrying one with you at all times means you will never be
in a situation where one isn’t available. Make sure you know how to correctly put
one on; this includes women in case the man does it wrong!
- Limit the amount of sexual partners— The lower the number of people you engage in
sexual contact with, the lower the risk of contracting an STD
- Both partners should be tested—before sexual contact occurs, make sure both involved
have been tested. We all realize this isn’t the sexiest thing to have to discuss with
a new partner, but it’s the only way to protect both of you completely
- Read up on common signs & symptoms—Take some time to surf the Internet to educate
yourself on some symptoms of common STD’s. Many can be cured without lasting problems
if caught early on.
There are resources all around to help keep yourself informed and protected. On campus,
LoGrasso Health Center can help you sort through the symptoms and direct you to the
right place for follow up. BCIC offers STD testing for women as well as low priced
birth control and condoms. The Chautauqua County Health Center offers free and confidential
STD testing to anyone as well as free condoms, no appointment necessary. The Dunkirk
clinic is located at 1136 Central Ave. Their phone number for information is: (716)
The Facts About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The term sexually transmitted disease is used to cover the more than 25 - 30 infectious
organisms that are spread from one person to another by sexual contact. Sexual contact
includes vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral-genital contact, and skin-to-skin
contact in the genital area. Some STDs can also be spread through blood, particularly
among intravenous (IV) drug users who may be sharing drug equipment such as needles
Examples of STDs are:
- human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes genital warts
- hepatitis B or C
Key facts about STDs
- STDs affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. They are most common
in people younger than 25 years of age.
- The number of people affected by STDs is rising. Sexually active people today are
more likely to have multiple sex partners during their lifetime, putting them at higher
risk for STDs.
- STDs may not cause symptoms. A person who is infected may not know it and may give
the infection to a sex partner.
- STDs can cause future issues for women such as infertility and cervical cancer.
How does an STD occur?
Bacteria, viruses and parasites cause Sexually Transmitted Diseases. They are usually
passed between partners during sexual intercourse and other sexual contact. You
can have an STD without knowing it. This means that you could infect your partner
before you know you have an STD.
What are some Common Symptoms of STDs ?
- Burning or pain with urination
- Itching , burning or pain in the genital area
- Rash, bumps, blisters, or sores in the genital area that may or may not be painful.
- Sore throat
- Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods.
Where do I go for STD screening and treatment?
Many local and county health departments have clinics where you can get tested and
treated for an STD. Some clinics are free, at others, you may have to pay to get
STD testing and treatment.
Your doctor or health care provider may also do STD testing and treatment. You should
see your doctor or health care provider right away if you have symptoms of an STD
or suspect that you might have contracted an STD from an individual that you have
been sexually active with. If you do not have a doctor or health care provider, and
need to get tested right away, go to a local urgent care center, walk in clinic or
hospital emergency room.
How do I prevent from getting an STD?
In terms of sex and sexual diseases, the only absolutely risk-free activity is to
be abstinent and not have sex. This includes not engaging in vaginal intercourse,
anal intercourse, oral-genital contact, and skin-to-skin contact in the genital area .
If you decide to become sexually active, here are some steps that you should take
to reduce your risk of becoming infected with an STD:
- Think things through and talk with your sexual partner.
- Have a mutually monogamous sexual relationship with an uninfected partner. Your chance
of getting an STD is greater if you have more then one sexual partner.
- Practice safe sex. Always use latex or polyurethane condoms during any sexual contact.
Using condoms reduces the risk of infection for some STDs but does not provide full
protection against genital warts, syphilis and HIV.
Other information About STDs
- Your chance of getting an STD is greater if you have more then one sexual partner.
- Douching the vagina or showering after sex does not prevent STDs.
- Withdrawal (when a man pulls his penis out before he ejaculates) is not a way to prevent
STDs or pregnancy.
- You can get the same STD again, even if you have had it once and have been treated.
- You can get an STD even if you have sex just one time.
- It is dangerous to mix alcohol and drugs with sexual activity, because they might
lead you to take risks ( you might forget or not care about using a condom).
- If you think you might have an STD, it is important to get treated as soon as possible.
Are there any websites that will give me information on a particular STD?
What about Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections
affecting both male and females in the the United States. Some strains of HPV are
responsible for warts on the hands and feet, and other strains are responsible for
warts on the penis, scrotum, vulva, vagina, anus, rectum, urethra, cervix and mouth.
HPV is spread through skin - to - skin contact during sexual activity.
Research has shown that 99.7% of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV infection.
There are 120 different types of HPV of which 35 are linked to infection of the genital
tract. Genital HPV types are divided into low-risk and high-risk types based on their
potential to cause cervical and other genital tract cancers.
It is estimated that 20 million people in the United States are currently infected
with HPV and over 6 million new HPV infections are diagnosed each year. Based on
these national estimates, over 50% of sexually active men and women will acquire HPV
infection at some point in their lives.
Most genital HPV infections are transient, asymptomatic, and clinically unrecognizable.
The majority of infections will clear without medical intervention within two years
of infection . Recurrence or reinfection with the same or a different subtype of
HPV can occur, consequently sex partners of infected patients should be evaluated
for the HPV infection.
How is HPV transmitted?
HPV is a contagious sexually transmitted virus and can be transmitted through sexual
activity that does not necessarily involve intercourse, but only skin - to - skin
and mucous membrane contact. HPV is difficult to identify and avoid in people who
are sexually active because it is often not possible to see lesions.
How do I know if I have HPV?
Because HPV may not show any signs or symptoms, you probably won't know you have it.
Most women are diagnosed with HPV as a result of abnormal Pap tests. A Pap test
(also known as a Pap smear) is part of a gynecological exam and helps detect abnormal
cells in the lining of the cervix before they have a chance to become precancers or
Many cervical precancers (changes that could lead to cancer) are related to HPV and
can be treated successfully if detected early. That's why early detection is so important.
What happens if I get HPV?
In most people , the body's defenses are enough to clear HPV. If not cleared by the
body, some HPV types cause genital warts. Other types cause abnormal changes in the
cells lining the cervix that can lead to precancers and even turn into cervical cancer
later in life. If the abnormalities are mild, the health care professional may choose
to closely monitor them. If the abnormalities are more severe, removing these cells
can almost always prevent cervical cancer from developing in the future.
Methods commonly used to treat abnormal cervical cells include freezing, removing
them using an electrical instrument, and conventional surgery. The treatment may have
to be repeated if the abnormal cells reappear.
How can HPV infection be prevented?
There are two ways in which HPV can be prevented.
1) Abstinence -- HPV can be spread during sexual activity with skin to skin contact
other than vaginal, rectal, or intercourse.
2) Monogamy -- People who have never had sexual activity with anyone else.
What about the HPV vaccine?
The FDA has approved a vaccine that will prevent 7 out of 10 cases of cervical cancer
and 9 out of 10 cases of genital warts. In addition, this vaccine also will significantly
reduce the number of false positive Pap tests, and thus reduce the number of costly
and potentially unnecessary diagnostic procedures performed on women.
Who should receive the HPV vaccine?
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that females between the ages
of 11 and 26 receive the HPV vaccination, whether they are sexually active or not.
The best time to receive the vaccine is before becoming sexually active. But the
CDC recommends that women under the age of 26, who are already sexually active still
get the vaccine because they will still benefit from some protection.
How is the vaccine given?
Merck, one of the manufactures of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, recommends three doses
of the vaccine over a six month time period; an initial dose followed by doses at 2
months and then again at 6 months.
Where can someone get the vaccine?
Discuss this with your health care provider to see if they have the HPV vaccine. If
you are uninsured, or unable to afford the costs of the vaccine, contact your local
health department or a community health center in your area to see if they are offering
the vaccine at a low or no cost.
Are there any side effects of the vaccine?
The vaccine is very safe and has been tested on thousands of women from all over the
world. Through these clinical trails, there have not been any serious adverse side
effects shown. Participants in the studies complained of minor skin irritation and
pain at the site of infection. There were found to be occasional headaches for a
few days after injection. These symptoms are self limiting and subside on their own
without additional treatment.
Do Women need to continue to get Pap tests after the vaccination?
Yes. Gardasil only protects against the two types of HPV that cause 7 out of 10 cases
of cervical cancer. Additionally, it is currently unknown how long the vaccine will
protect against HPV, so it is important to see your health care professional for
continue Pap screening.
The American Cancer Society recommends:
- All women should begin cervical cancer screening about three years after they begin
having vaginal intercourse, but no later than when they are 21 years old. Screening
should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every two years using the newer
liquid-based Pap test.
- Beginning at age 30, women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row may
get screened every two to three years with either the regular or newer liquid based
Pap test. Women who have certain risk factors such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure
before birth, HIV infection, or a weakened immune system due to organ transplant,
chemotherapy, or chronic steroid use should continue to be screened annually.
Urinary Tract Infections, they can be prevented
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract which
includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Any or all of these parts of
the urinary tract can become infected. An infection that is not treated can permanently
hurt the bladder and kidneys. It can even spread to the blood and cause a life threatening
How does a UTI occur?
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. Normally the urinary tract does
not have any bacteria in it. Bacteria that cause a UTI often spread from the rectum
or vagina to the urethra and then to the bladder or kidneys. Urinary tract infections
are more common in women because the urethra is short. This makes it easy for bacteria
to move up to the bladder and kidneys. Sometimes bacteria spread from another part
of the body through the bloodstream to the urinary tract.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The symptoms of a UTI may include:
- urinating more often
- feeling an urgent need to urinate
- pain or discomfort (burning) when you urinate
- strong-smelling urine
- pain in the lower pelvis, stomach, lower back, or side
- urine that looks cloudy or reddish
- shaking chills
- nausea and vomiting
- leaking of urine (incontinence)
- change in amount of urine, either more or less
- pain during sex
How is a UTI diagnosed?
A sample of urine can be tested for bacteria at the Health Center or in your Primary
Care Phyisican's Office.
How is a UTI treated?
Urinary Tract Infections are treated with antibiotics. Those treated for a UTI should
take all the medicine your health care provider prescribes, even after the symptoms
go away. Those who stop taking the medication before the scheduled end of treatment
could get the infection back. If the infection is not treated, your kidneys may be
damaged or the infection may spread to your blood. If the infection spreads to the
blood, it can cause a severe infection which could be fatal.
How can I take care of myself when I have a UTI?
- Follow your health care providers treatment.
- Drink more fluids, especially water, to help flush the bacteria from your system.
- If you have a fever, make sure that you get enough rest and take Tylenol or Ibuprofen
to help reduce the fever.
How can I prevent a UTI?
You can help prevent a urinary tract infection if you:
- Drink plenty of water and other beverages.
- Do not wait to go to the bathroom when you feel the need to urinate.
- Use good hygiene when you use the toilet. For example, wipe from front to back to
keep rectal bacteria from getting into the vagina and urethra.
- Avoid using irritating cosmetics or chemicals in the genital area (such as strong
soaps, Femmine hygiene sprays or douches, or scented napkins or panty liners)
- Urinate soon after sex.
- Keep your genital area clean.
- Empty your bladder completely when you urinate.
- Wear all cotton or cotton-crotch underwear and pantyhose.
- Change underwear and pantyhose every day.
National Smoke Out Day
By: DJ Schier
In such a health conscious time as the one we live in, it is surprising to see how
many college students do destructive things to their bodies. One of these destructive
habits that are a health risk not only to the one partaking in it, but also everyone
around them, is smoking cigarettes.
So what makes smoking such a destructive habit? Good question. Extensive research
has been done over the years regarding smoking and health related issues. Smoking
is directly related to certain types of cancers. Some of these include lung, pancreas,
kidney, cervical, and stomach cancer among many more. Smoking is also directly related
to shortened lifespans in both men and women. Men can lose up to 13.2 years off their
life, while women can lose up to 14.5 years, according to www.quitsmoking.about.com.
Just because you are not the one smoking, however, does not mean that you are not
being affected by smokers. Second hand smoke is smoke that is emitted from a cigarette
while it is being smoked. So if you are in close proximity of someone who is smoking,
like in a car with them or just standing by them, you are at risk. Second hand smoke
is just as dangerous, if not more so, as smoking. This can lead to disease in people
who would think that they were typically safe from the effects of smoking.
There is a push on November 18thto help people quit smoking. The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout
holds this campaign every third Thursday of November in an attempt to get people to
realize what smoking is doing to them and people around them and encourages them to
quit. According to www.tobaccofreeu.org, the day was created to highlight the dangers of smoking and challenge people to
stop using tobacco products. It is a nationwide campaign all across America.
Quitting smoking has immediate health benefits, as well as long term benefits. It
significantly reduces the risk of diseases caused by smoking and overall, improves
health. Also, with the taxes on tobacco products has made for a high cost. Most college
students scrape by to even get tobacco products, so if someone can’t see it benefiting
their health, say that it is also benefiting their wallets.
SUNY Fredonia is only one of many college institutions that will be participating
in National Smokeout Day. For more information, you can check out www.tobaccofreeu.org to get more information on the day, as well as the American Cancer Society’s website