Sexual health is a prominent topic on college campuses. Although there is a misconception about what constitutes sexual health, it is more than preventing pregnancy and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the American Sexual Health Association, being sexually healthy means understanding sexuality is a natural part of life. It means recognizing and respecting the sexual rights everyone shares and having access to sexual health information, education and care. Along with making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs/STDs, it is imperative to be able talk about sexual health with sexual partners and healthcare providers.
Donna Schmidt, clinical director at Life Choices Medical Clinic in San Antonio, said there has been growth in STI rates in America. She said it is important to talk with each potential partner before taking part in intercourse and oral sex.
A sexually transmitted infection is not the same as a sexually transmitted disease. Infections are asymptomatic and may not lead to a disease diagnoses and disease symptoms.
The Life Choices Medical Clinic offers a wide range of services including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling and monthly material assistance to guide parents through the process of sex education with children. Many students in both the San Antonio and San Marcos area are referred to the clinic because it is a cheaper option, although prices may vary depending on insurance. They offer classes discussing parenting, child safety, baby development, nutrition and first aid. Additionally, STI testing is offered, as well as education and treatment for both men and women.
“In the United States, the rates of Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis have increased tremendously, going from one to two cases a year to now one to two a month,” Schmidt said. “It’s really important to educate yourself on the best practices for medical care. If you’re going to be in a relationship, get tested before and have that conversation with your partner.”
Mary Guerrero Cox, office manager and medical assistant at The Sexual Health Institute of Texas, said communication is key in keeping up with sexual health.
“The most important thing is making sure you are comfortable,” Cox said. “People should be encouraged to care about their bodies and (make) certain changes to go along with that. Being educated on sex is most important.”
Sarah Allen, health information management junior, said she feels there should be more education on resources and ways to be more conscious of sexual health.
“I think the idea of sexual health and education should be normalized, considering sex is normal and common on college campuses,” Allen said. “I personally don’t know of many resources, but I feel sexual health in general should be talked about more on campus in a healthy way.”
There are local resources such as the Student Health Center or Hays County Women’s Center in San Marcos and others in the surrounding area, such as the RBJ Public Health Center in Austin, that help students maintain sexual health. Communication and attentiveness is key in sexual wellness.