Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
The Sex Files

Each person makes their own choice about having sex. Whether you have decided to not have sex, are considering having sex, or are already sexually active, take a peek into the Sex Files for the low-down on each of these choices:

1. SO YOU'VE DECIDED NOT TO HAVE SEX...
Abstinence is a choice that can be made at any time. It can be a lifelong choice, or one that lasts just until the time for having sex is right.

BENEFITS OF ABSTINENCE

  • No worries about unplanned pregnancy. It can give you 100% protection against sexually transmitted infections (STI's) - as long as no semen, vaginal secretions or blood are exchanged.
  • It can give you time to get to know each other.
  • It allows time for trust and closeness to grow.

    2. SO YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT HAVING SEX...
    If you and your partner choose to engage in intercourse (vaginal, anal, oral), you can greatly reduce the risks of transmitting sexually transmitted infections by adopting the following practices:

  • Communicate with your partner about health and sexual histories prior to the time you become sexually active. Talking about these things doesn't mean that you are untrusting; it means that you are being responsible and respectful.
  • Plan ahead. Do not let things "just happen". Be prepared to protect yourself as well as your partner.
  • Seek alternative forms of sexual expression where bodily fluids are not exchanged.
  • Always use barrier methods - condoms, dams and gloves - for vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral sex, to prevent exchange of bodily fluids. Visit the Wellness Centre for free condoms, lube, and instructions for dental dams.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. Your risk of STI's increases with multiple sexual partners.

    3. SO YOU'RE ALREADY SEXUALLY ACTIVE...
    Sexual activity is a normal and healthy part of our lives, but it's essential that you are aware of the risks surrounding STI's, for both your own sake and the well-being of your partner(s). An STI can cause many long-lasting complications if not treated soon enough - especially in females - and quite often there are no obvious symptoms. The following list gives a brief summary of some of the more common STI's in order of prevalence:

  • Human Papilloma virus (HPV)
    Main symptom of HPV is the presence of warts on the genitals and/or anus. The warts first appear as small growths. There can be single or extensive lesions that form cauliflower-like masses. The warts may cause pain during intercourse, urination or defecation. These warts are treatable. Some types of HPV are strongly associated with cancer of the cervix, so females should have a regular Pap Smear. Note: Condoms often do not provide adequate protection against HPV transmission.'

  • Chlamydial Infection
    Most males and females who are infected by this bacterium have no symptoms. In females, chlamydia may spread and lead to PID. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics and transmission is prevented through proper use of a condom.

  • Genital Herpes
    Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1, cause cold sores or fever blister around the mouth. HSV type 2 usually causes genital herpes. Not all infected persons have the obvious symptoms. HSV lies dormant and can reactivate for unknown reason. A prescription drug can reduce pain and promote symptomatic healing; however, there is no cure for the infection.
    NOTE: Condoms are often considered to be insufficient protection against transmission of genital herpes.

  • Hepatitis B
    This virus infects the liver. Infected persons may have no symptoms, but can experience fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. About of those infected develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes. Rest and a balanced diet usually lead to a complete recovery. There is a vaccine available to help protect against Hepatitis B.

  • Gonorrhea
    Caused by infection of the urethra in males and the cervix or urethra in females. Symptoms of gonorrhea are urethral or vaginal discharge and pain or burning during urination. This infection can lead to PID in females. Condoms provide protection from transmission when used correctly.

  • Syphilis
    This bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics to prevent advancement form one stage to the next. Symptoms occur in three stages:
  • First stage symptoms are small, painless solitary sores called chancres. These symptoms appear about three weeks following infection and will disappear with treatment.
  • Second stage symptoms appear 1 to 6 months after infection. They may include a rash on the hands and feet, sores in the mouth, enlarged lymph nodes and patchy loss of hair.
  • Third stage symptoms include blindness, paralysis, deafness and brain or heart disease. Not all cases will progress to the third stage which occurs two to forty years after infection.
  • Transmission of syphilis is preventable through proper condom use.

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
    This is a serious condition in young females, its absence of symptoms means it usually goes unnoticed. It can cause infertility, chronic pain and/or ectopic pregnancy. If present, symptoms of PID include lower abdominal pain, fever, pain during intercourse, and menstrual irregularities. Treatment with antibiotics is available.

    If you think you have an STI, see a doctor at Student Health Services or call/go to the Sexual Health Clinic (125 Delhi Street, 821-2370) and ask for an STI checkup. Any information you give is treated with the strictest of confidence. And most importantly: tell your partner if you know you have an infection. Help stop the spread of STI's.

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