Keeping yourself healthy and strong is important. Making good choices and keeping an eye out for anything that may be wrong are some of the easiest ways to stay healthy. Proper sexual health is a part of overall general health. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can affect anyone. If you are sexually active, taking the proper precautions can ensure that you and the people close to you remain healthy.
Preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Condoms, when used properly are an effective and simple way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmittable infections. (Some cities, like New York and Chicago, distribute free condoms in order to promote safer sex. You may do a Google search for your area to see if a program is available.)
Doctors recommend that you avoid sharing towels with others, as communicable diseases can be transmitted this way. It is also important that you practice proper hygiene overall, and pay attention to the sensitive parts of your body. It is important keep an eye out for any breaks or cuts in your skin as this immensely increases the odds of infection, sexually-transmitted or otherwise.
Barrier methods, like male and female condoms are one of the most effective and easiest to use methods of birth control. Oral contraceptives are another choice for birth control. It is important to remember that oral contraceptives are not covered by the Accident and Sickness insurance plan so they must be purchased separately.
Noticing Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Some symptoms are obvious: Irritation of the skin, discharge of fluids, bleeding, discomfort during sex or when using the bathroom. Other symptoms are not easily associated with sexual infections or diseases. For example, fevers, body aches, headaches do sometimes accompany various sexually transmitted diseases. It is important not to panic and immediately assume the worst, but if you have a persistent fever or headache, you will want to visit a doctor to be examined.
If you believe you have symptoms of an illness, see a medical professional as quickly as possible. We recommend you visit an Urgent Care Center if you need immediate treatment for an illness. You can search for Urgent Care Centers by visiting the Student Zone, the online portal designed by the insurance company.
You may also search for a list of private doctors in your area by visiting the Student Zone. A private doctor is a good option if you need treatment and can wait for an appointment date. We do not recommend that you visit an Emergency Room unless you are seriously injured or ill and will need to be monitored by medical professionals. Emergency room visits are very expensive – there is a $250 deductible if you go to an emergency room and are not admitted to the hospital.
Treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and infections may not be covered by the policy, since they are preventable. We recommend that you call the insurance company to confirm your treatment will be covered before you make an appointment.
For further information, you may visit the insurance company's information page for those seeking treatment.
This link also includes details about a free prescription drug program that is available for certain medications.
If your treatment is not covered by the Accident & Sickness policy, you can search for free or low cost health centers in your area on the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration webpage.
However, it is best to take precautions when engaging in sexual activity to prevent contracting diseases or infections in the first place, thus making it unnecessary to have to seek medical attention.
Making Smart Decisions
If you are experiencing symptoms of illness and irritation, avoid contact with others until you are examined and cleared by a doctor. Too often, people may delay treatment because they may be embarrassed or distracted.
Look out for any danger signs! If you notice your partner is ill or has a skin irritation, encourage them to see a doctor before you resume any sexual activity. Too often, we are not able to see when others are infected. Your partner may not know it him or herself. The The U.S. Center For Disease Control has an informative webpage with details about symptoms and warning signs for various diseases.
Don't be afraid to ask! Honesty and openness are the most important parts of any relationship.
Finally, make sure to take care of yourself so that you can protect the ones you care for the most.
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Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.