SPONSORED: How to get started with birth control and STI prevention


Sponsored by Lion’s Den

The college dating scene is meant to be fun, not stressful. With all the pressure that comes with dating, the last thing you want to worry about is your health. We’ve outlined some tips for staying on top of your health and resources for anything you might encounter.

If you have a vulva you have many options: oral contraceptives, IUDs and the Nexplanon implant are all widely available through most health care providers. Internal condoms, although more expensive and less available than external condoms, are an option, too. Speak to your primary health care provider to learn more about means of contraception and which might be best for you.

Plan B was intended to be used for emergencies, not as a form of birth control. Try to avoid regular use.

For those with a penis, external condoms are the best option. Fortunately, these are typically cheap or free and have the added benefit of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

It’s important to get tested if you are sexually active, especially if you have unprotected sex. If you have been exposed to the bodily fluids of another person, there’s a possibility you’ve contracted an STI.

For every new partner and after every encounter, you should get tested. And you should expect your partner to have a clean bill of health before hooking up or disclosing if they have an active infection. Sometimes things get carried away or you’re caught up in the heat of the moment without having the time to verify your partner’s sexual history or disclose your own, which makes birth control and protection even more important.

It’s fairly common for STIs to manifest without any symptoms. STIs can spread person-to-person through bodily fluids, sexual activity, or, in the case of parasitic STIs, they can be spread through close contact or sharing clothes or towels. So if you engage in any sexual activity, it’s best to know your status and treat any infection as soon as possible before it can exacerbate.

Because you can only know for sure if you get tested, it is important to be tested regularly and to always use protection. STIs can intensify and lead to dramatic health complications if left untreated for too long.

If you learn that you’ve been carrying an STI, contact your previous partners. They might not have contracted anything from you, but it’s always best to be forthcoming about your health and how that can impact other people.

Although birth control methods protect against pregnancy, they do not guard against STIs, except for condoms and dental dams. If you are engaging in any sexual activity, it’s best to continue using condoms and dental dams to ensure you are fully protected against pregnancy and other health complications.

Finding forms of birth control and means to diagnose and treat STIs alone can be daunting. Health Education and Promotion at Western Kentucky University is available to help. The department offers access to feminine hygiene products, contraception, and STI testing and treatments. Once a month, the department offers free HIV testing on campus which students can register for online.

You can explore Health Education and Promotion’s full list of services online or visit them in person in their suite in the Health Services Building located near the Preston Center.