Happy Graduation! Now Go Get Tested.
By Kristen Dunleavy
Graduating college was completely unreal to me. In fact, I wasn’t entirely convinced I was actually graduating until the day of commencement. And even then, I felt that at any point my advisor would run up to the stage and announce that there was glitch in the system and I didn’t have enough credits to graduate after all. I’m not paranoid or anything.
Post-graduation, I was fortunate enough to get hired from an internship that I loved. This also meant a somewhat hellish daily commute into Manhattan – but for me, it was worth it. Many of my friends were doing the same and that meant I had plenty of people to commiserate with over drinks at happy hour. I was in a relationship at the time, but for my single friends, working in New York was akin to being a kid in a candy store. In this case, the candy was hot dudes with an excuse to wear a tie every day.
Chances are, plenty of young people are in the exact same boat right now, or will be very soon. If you thought hooking up in college was awesome, wait until you’re in the FOR REAL world. It’s a totally different ball game. And that’s why staying on top of your sexual health is a billion times more important than it ever has been in your entire life.
For one, half of all new STDs occur between ages 15-24 and one in two sexually active people will contract an STD by age 25. Think about that. I don’t mean to instill fear in your heart or anything, but there’s an excellent chance that you or someone you know has had an STD.
What’s even scarier is that most STDs don’t have any obvious symptoms right away, or the symptoms are so minor that many women ignore them. But women are far more likely to have more frequent and more serious health problems as the result of untreated STDs, including fertility, birth complications and the high probability of passing the disease onto your child.
You might be thinking, “Ok, but I visit the gyno regularly, so I’ve been tested.”Well, no, not necessarily. About two-thirds of young women believe their doctors routinely test for chlamydia, but that isn’t the case. Getting screened for STDs requires a conversation with your doctor about what specific tests you need. Don’t assume that any past blood or urine test will reveal an STD, because that isn’t how screening works. You have to be proactive about getting tested.
The good news is that many of the most common STDs are 100% treatable. Don’t think that you’ll be marked for life if you discover you have an STD. It’s way better to know for sure if you have something so you can deal with it and move on with your life.
You already know the whole spiel about condoms, but it bears repeating – especially when you find yourself in new surroundings. Always carry a condom (or two!) and use them every single time. You never know where life will take you in a new job or a new city, so prepare yourself now.
Are starting a new job or moving to a new city? Have you been tested recently? Tell us in the comments section!