Be proactive about your sexual health and minimize your risk of STIs
In Blair Baker and Chloe Berk’s short film “Summer Fridays,” we follow Frankie as she visits her gynecologist for a cervical biopsy and endocervical sampling after finding out that she has human papillomavirus (HPV).
We don’t know Frankie’s health-care backstory, but it’s safe to assume that the path we find her on began with a conversation. An important part of taking care of one’s sexual health is to establish an open and honest dialogue with a health care provider.
Good communication can help your provider determine what screening tests are necessary. Several factors determine what tests you need and how often you need them. These include age, past medical history, what types of sex you have (if any), and the presence of any high-risk behaviors that make STIs more likely.
Here are a few other ways to be proactive about your sexual health and minimize your STI risk:
- Get vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis B.
- Decrease risk of exposure by using condoms with all acts of penetrative or oral sex.
- Seek routine screening for STIs, basing the frequency of testing on the sexual practices and risk factors you’ve discussed with your doctor.
- Finish recommended treatment, as prescribed, if you are diagnosed with an STI.
- Notify your partner(s) so they can receive treatment
- Consider post-exposure (PEP) and/or prophylactic (PrEP) treatment if you fall into appropriate risk categories.
Conversation with Blair Baker & Chloe Berk
moderated by Alex Sgambati
This month’s playlist is all about chill summer vibes. Rightly so, we spend a lot of time worrying and contemplating all things repro, but sometimes we just need to throw our bras into the wind…
Pour ourselves something ice cold…
Crank up the ceiling fan…
Lie prone on the floor — (chances are good you’re feeling a bit wilted)…
On the hottest days of the year – literally and figuratively – we need the coolest music we can find and set ’em free!
Too embarrassed to talk to your doctor? 5 tips to open the dialogue
This short guide offers suggestions for how to approach a potentially uncomfortable topic with your health care provider. Our favorite? “Be honest about your embarrassment. Saying: ‘This is uncomfortable for me to talk about, but…’ allows for your doctor to know that you’re uneasy and to proceed with thoughtfulness.
Why you should get tested for STIs annually — even if you’re in a monogamous relationship
Can you believe a recent study suggests nearly half of sexually active U.S. women have NEVER been screened for an STI? And cases are on the rise. “‘The best way to find out if you have an STI is to test,’ Dr. Kelly says.“The body is so amazing and strong it can sometimes mask symptoms, or people can ignore the signs if the infection is not aggressive. That’s why universal testing is my recommendation.”
Basically everything you need to know about HPV
“Genital HPV infections are very, very common. In fact, most people who have sex get the HPV at some point in their lives,” according to this primer. Usually HPV is no big deal — but some strains can lead to cancer. Learn if you might be a candidate for the vaccine and why children should be vaccinated early.
Awareness of HPV’s link to cancer lags as cases continue to increase
Most Americans know there’s a link between HPV and cancer, but a new study suggests awareness has dropped in recent years. The consequences are real: Even though the HPV vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer, occurrences are on the rise.
Having HPV ‘isn’t rude or shameful,’ experts insist
A survey by a British cancer charity found that half of all respondents said they would be nervous to disclose an HPV diagnosis to their partners. (If they are anything like Frankie’s ex in “Summer Fridays,” we certainly understand.) But experts worry this anxiety may cause people to delay preventative care.
Money, sex and rumors: Tanzania faces challenges to protect girls from HPV
Some global context: The HPV vaccine “is only now starting to be widely introduced in lower-income countries, where 90 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur.” There, health workers face both cultural barriers to vaccination and limited supplies from drug companies that prioritize more profitable industrialized markets.
American Sexual Health Association
We are obsessed with the info-packed website for the American Sexual Health Association, which offers guidance on anything and everything related to sexual health, including STIs, relationships, and how to find a provider.
Founded in 1914 by public-health reformers, “the American Sexual Health Association envisions a world where sexual and reproductive health and rights are universally recognized, and where comprehensive sexual health information and services are accessible and available to all, free from coercion, violence, and discrimination across the lifespan.”
HPV Cancers Alliance
The HPV Cancers Alliance works to stop the spread of HPV infection and associated cancers through education. Its website is another great resource about human papillomaviruses, including the latest research.
The organization was founded when Co-Founder/Executive Director Lillian Kreppel was diagnosed with stage II anal cancer in 2017. Her response reflected her personality: “I don’t have time for this cancer. Let’s take care of this. Let’s get it done.” Read her story here.
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