With a runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever, it is common to schedule an appointment with a doctor for a few answers and a fix. People attend annual check-up appointments in order to know they are on a healthy track or to find a way to get on one. Patients call doctors to fill prescriptions and ask for advice. We go to doctors, nurses and pharmacists with questions, fears and assurance. Then why are many people embarrassed, reluctant or negligent when it comes to being responsible about taking care of their sexual health?
In light of the recent Get Yourself Tested campaign which offers half-off STD testing at Colorado State University’s Hartshorn Health Center through April 10, a dialogue of STDs and sexual health has been opened. However, when I discussed the GYT posters, STD statistics or birth control options with friends and family, I found that many blushed and tried to shrug the subject off.
I have witnessed friends cringe at the thought of visiting the gynecologist for an annual check-up. Many tell the “embarrassing” story of walking through a pharmacy with their head down toward the aisle where the condoms are shelved. Some people who are sexually active feel like they do not need to get tested because “that kind of stuff doesn’t happen” to them.
I understand that many people consider their health a private matter. However, having an open discussion about sexual health does not have to delve into personal health histories. The stigma attached to sexual health is not unlike the stigma attached to mental illness. People like to pretend it does not exist; we are all perfect, have our lives together and sexual health is not something that needs to be worried about.
People are not typically embarrassed to fill prescriptions for medications such as those for asthma or migraines, but some women are embarrassed to fill their birth control prescription. We have no trouble asking a doctor for advice about muscle pain, but some people are reluctant to inquire about contraceptive options or sexual advice. When a nurse asks about symptoms related to the flu, we often explain them in great detail, but that is not always the case for sexual health issues.
It is important to be educated on sexual health and be aware of your resources. CSU’s Hartshorn Health Center has women’s and men’s clinics that provide services in a confidential, comfortable and safe environment.
Be proud. Hold your head high and do not be ashamed to walk into the women’s or men’s clinic. Even more so, know the resources available to you. Take responsibility and pride in your sexual health.
Collegian Interactive News Team member Kathleen Keaveny can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @katkeaveny.