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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sexcapades: The pill is not enough

Published: March 12, 2010
Section: Opinions

Illustration by Leah Finkleman/the Hoot

I recently read about the current rise of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) in young adult females. I was frightened by this statistic and the knowledge that Brandeis students are not excluded from this statistic. During training for Orientation Leaders, we were told that most students contract STDs during the first six weeks of school. But what about after that?

If you contract an STD during that period and then go on to have sex with one (or five) people, you are putting people at risk of contracting that STD.

Where has safe sex gone?

As a disclaimer, it is hard for me to judge exactly what’s going on in terms of safe sex and condom use because this year I have been in two sexual relationships, both of which were committed and monogamous in their own way.  Whatever choices we made, or are making, about how to protect ourselves, are based on knowledge and trust.  However, as a long-time rover, the idea that I would ever not use a condom (particularly if it was a one-night stand, a booty call or an infrequent hookup) is ludicrous.

The widespread availability and use of female birth control has perhaps attributed to this idea that we’re all “safe,” because in college, our biggest concern isn’t often about disease.  Instead we are concerned with  what might stop us from achieving our goals, and pregnancy tops that list.

But given the prevalence of STDs on campuses, this is foolhardy of us. Every time we sleep with someone and don’t use a condom, we are putting ourselves at risk.  These risks are far greater for women than they are for men.

Apart from the STDs you already know about–HIV Herpes–there are a variety that you probably haven’t heard about since sixth grade health. Some of them can lead to impotence or infertility in men, but a far higher number can lead to infection, infertility and even cancer in women. HPV, for example, can lead to warts or cervical cancer. But  the guy you got it from might not even know he has it.

Unless your hookup is getting tested every six months or so and getting tested every time they have unprotected sex (which, lets face it, he probably isn’t), you need to protect yourself effectively and use a condom.

College is a time for having fun, but really, it’s only fun if you’re safe.

Even though both partners should be carrying protection with them before they go out, you can’t always count on your guy of the evening. There’s nothing wrong with a girl who carries a condom or a dental dam in her purse when she goes out. It’s better to have it and be able to use it than discover that neither partner has protection.

Even if you go back to the guy’s place, there’s no guarantee he will have anything.

Even though there is sometimes a stigma attached to women who carry protection, women should never depend on the guy to make sure they’re safe.