Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections transmitted from person to person during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Teens and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 are the most susceptible to new STIs, with individuals between the ages of 20 to 24 accounting for the highest infection rates.
Some of the most prevalent STI’s among college students are listed below.
Chlamydia: The most common STI among college students. Many people with Chlamydia do not have any signs or symptoms of the infection (75% of females and 50% of males are symptom free); because of this, many individuals will go untreated risking permanent damage to the pelvic and sex organs. Symptoms of Chlamydia can include discharge from the vagina or penis, burning with urination, increased urination, and cramps in the lower abdomen (females). While Chlamydia can be cured with an antibiotic, re-infection is possible of you have unprotected sex or engage in sexual activity with an infected, untreated partner.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus): The most common STI in the U.S. HPV can cause genital warts, cervical, and other cancers. Most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives. The body’s immune system clears most HPV naturally, but getting the HPV vaccine can prevent against the HPV viruses that cause cervical cancer, which your body cannot clear naturally. HPV detection in females is done through a PAP smear, while HPV detection in males can be done through physical examination.
Herpes: Herpes can cause painful sores on or around the mouth or genitals. People with symptoms may notice a tingling or itching in the area just before a sore appears or swollen glands, a fever, or overall achy feeling. Herpes is a virus and cannot be cured but the symptoms can be treated. Prescription medications can help suppress a herpes outbreak if taken in the first day or two of an outbreak. Medication may also be used daily to reduce the chances of recurrence.
The best way to prevent from getting STIs is abstinence, but if you are sexually active, make sure to use protection such as condoms to protect yourself from these infections.
If you are concerned that you might have an STI, want more information, or want to get tested, call or stop by the Gable Health Center to schedule an appointment. The Gable Health Center can test for HIV, Hepatitis C, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis as well as the other STI’s mentioned above. A female exam may consist of a pelvic exam and a blood draw to test for STI’s. A male exam may consist of an examination of the area of concern, (if symptoms are present) a blood draw, and a urine test.
Nelson, M. (2012). Chlamydia (Brochure). (n.p.): ETR Associates.
Clark, K. (2009). Herpes (Brochure). (n.p.): ETR Associates
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Human Papillomavirus Infection (Brochure). Washington, DC: Copyright Clearance Center
Informational brochures on different STIs including the ones cited can be obtained at the Gable Health Center.
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