September is National Sexual Health Month, so what is a better way to end the month than talking about STIs (or also known as STDs).
Practicing safe sex is essential to our physical and mental health, but what is “safe sex?” We hear this phrase a lot, and it simply means taking steps to protect yourself and your partners during sex. There are many options and methods to ensure healthy and safe experiences with sex. Whether this is through open communication with our partners, using contraceptives or other forms of protection, and regular STI testing. Today’s post is focusing on all the resources available to students and non-students here at Michigan Tech, along with the surrounding community as well.
First, let’s cover exactly what STIs are. STIs are sexually transmitted infections that are passed from individuals through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted infections are a very common and important aspect of our sexual health. Many STIs can be treated, and some are even curable! However, if they are left untreated they can cause significant problems to our body’s health. This is why it is important for us to practice safe sex, not only for ourselves but for our partners as well. Therefore, it is important for us to be keeping track of our bodies and seeing medical professionals if or when we notice changes in our medical conditions.
So, what are the best ways we can prevent STI transmission when we are sexually active? This is where communication, use of barrier methods (external & internal condoms), and regular STI testing come into play. Communication is attractive, and so is practicing safe sex! Being open and honest with sexual partners can be the first step to safe sex (after consent). Discussing things like barriers and past testing can be great steps to practicing safe sex. Speaking of barriers, using things like condoms can do more than prevent pregnancy, they can also prevent STIs. However, this is ONLY the case for barrier contraceptives. Contraceptives such as the pill, patch, IUD, and a few other contraceptives work to solely prevent pregnancies and do not prevent STIs. Making sure we are informed on which contraceptives keep us protected from each circumstance is essential. Finally, getting tested frequently for STIs is the next step to taking care of your sexual health. By seeking out testing, you are ensuring healthy sex for you and your sexual partners.
But what if you don’t have access to barrier protection, or aren’t sure where to get tested? No problem! There are plenty of resources open to the Michigan Tech community from free condoms to accessible STI testing.
In search of protection or resources? Check out these places below.
- The Center for Student Mental Health and Well-Being carries free condoms that are available to everyone. Just head to the campus administration building on the 3rd floor.
- The Center for Diversity and Inclusion also carries free condoms that are available to everyone.
- If none of these options work out, try out the local Walmart, Walgreens, or any other drugstores you may be located by. Drugstores often carry a plethora of sizes to surely fit anyone’s needs or preferences.
In search of STI Testing? Check out these places below.
- Western Upper Peninsula Health Department offers testing for all major STIs. Fees are offered on a sliding scale based on an individual’s income. Students receive a reduced or waived fee. (Yes, free testing is an option!) Located at 540 Depot St, Hancock, MI 49930.
- Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center provides STD screenings and HPV vaccinations. Call ahead for a face-to-face appointment. Located in the Student Development Complex.
- Aspirus Houghton Clinic provides STD testing. Call ahead to schedule an appointment. Located next to the Houghton Walmart.
In search of other resources? Check the ones listed below.
- If you are looking for sexual health advice or information check out the Center for Student Mental Health website or walk down to the administration building on the 3rd floor for face-to-face help.
- If you are looking for more medical information on sexual health talk to your primary physician!
- If you are wanting to research more on this topic check out the CDC website for more information.
Happy National Sexual Health Month! Go get tested.