Sexual Health 101 – Viral STIs

Part 2: Viral STIs

Photo by David Cohen on Unsplash

As mentioned in my previous blog post (see Sexual Health 101 – Part 1), sexual health is a topic that many students have questions about, since it can be somewhat of a taboo topic. Knowing some of the basics about STIs, including how they are transmitted and how they are treated, is important to maintaining a happy and healthy sex life.

To start off: what is a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

A Sexually Transmitted Infection, otherwise known as an STI, is an infection that can be acquired from having sex. STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can affect your sexual and reproductive organs, while others like HIV and syphilis can cause general body infections.

A viral STI is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a virus. Although they currently have no cure, their symptoms can be helped with treatment. Listed below are some of the most common viral STIs, including HPV, HIV, and Herpes. Although I don’t talk about it in this post, Hepatitis B is another viral STI that can also be transmitted through sexual means. See this link for more information regarding Hepatitis B, including info regarding the Hepatitis B vaccine (which is available at Student Health Service).

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
  • What is it? HPV is a virus that can cause genital warts or lead to cancer. There are multiple types of HPV that can affect the body in different ways.
  • How do you get it? HPV can be acquired through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a person who has the infection. You can also get HPV from skin to skin contact, even if your partner doesn’t have any visible warts.
  • What are the symptoms? A lot of people have HPV and don’t know they have it, since it’s often asymptomatic. Warts on the genitals, if present, may look like bumps which can be cauliflower-like. Some warts are very hard to see.
  • How do you get tested? A doctor or nurse can tell if you have genital warts by looking at them. Some types of HPV can also cause changes to a female’s cervix, which may lead to cervical cancer. To check your cervix, a doctor or nurse can do a PAP test, which involves taking cells from the cervix.
  • How is it treated? Currently there is no cure for HPV, but there are treatments for the symptoms (warts and cervix changes). If you want the warts taken off, a number of treatments can be performed: freezing/burning the warts, surgical removal, putting liquid directly on the wart. However, even if they are removed, there is a chance that they will return.
    • A NOTE ABOUT THE HPV VACCINE: if you are a female between 9-46 years old, you can protect yourself against some types of HPV with a vaccine, given by a needle in three doses. This can be done at Student Health Service on campus. However, this does not protect against all strains, and for this reason, it is important to regularly get PAP tests and use condoms for vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
HERPES
  • What is it? Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV that are STIs: types 1 and 2. They can both cause painful sores around the mouth (cold sores; typically HSV 1), as well as sores on the genitals (genital herpes, typically HSV 2).
  • How do you get it? Herpes is acquired through skin-skin contact. For example:
    • Kissing someone with a cold sore
    • Receiving oral sex from someone with cold sores
    • Touching the sores
    • Condomless intercourse with someone with a genital herpes outbreak
    • NOTE: you can pass on the virus when you have visible sores on the mouth or genitals, but you can also pass it on without having any visible sores!
  • What are the symptoms? A lot of people with herpes will not have any symptoms, meaning you may not know you have it! If you do have symptoms, you’ll likely feel itching/tingling on your skin, which will then develop into painful blisters that turn into sores. These sores do heal by themselves, but will likely keep coming back. However, the first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst.
    • If you have a herpes outbreak: keep the area clean and wear loose fitting clothes/cotton underwear. After urinating, wash your genital area with cool water.
  • How do you get tested? A doctor or nurse will check your sores, which can be done at Student Health. Sometimes they might order a blood test to help with a diagnosis. However, this test is often not covered by insurance of MSP, since HSV is so common in the population.
  • How it is treated? Herpes cannot be cured but can be managed: there is medication that can help prevent and reduce the length of outbreaks. Doctors can also prescribe pain medication for severe outbreaks.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
  • What is it? HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) by attacking your body’s immune system and preventing it from fighting off certain infections. Although those with healthy immune systems may be able to fight these infections off, people with HIV might not be able to. When someone has HIV and acquires a certain number of infections, it can progress to being called AIDS, although this may not occur for many years.
  • How do you get it? HIV is only acquired by the virus entering your bloodstream. The virus can be transmitted through blood, vaginal fluids, semen and breast milk. You can get HIV by having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, oral) or by sharing needles or other drug use equipment (cookers, water, filters, etc), as well as other lower risk activities.
    • A note about HIV transmission: HIV cannot be acquired through casual contact such as hugging, shaking hands, tears, sharing food or toilet seats.
  • What are the symptoms? Since it’s possible to have no symptoms for many years, you can have HIV and not know it. For this reason it’s important to get tested, as you could pass on the virus to a partner without knowing you have it. However, If it does present itself in symptoms, you might develop a mild flu ~2-4 weeks after infection.
  • How do you get tested? You can get a blood test at Student Health Service.
  • How is it treated? Although there is no cure for HIV, most people who receive treatment and care lead long lives, without any progression to AIDS. HIV treatment involves drugs that need to be taken every day to keep the virus under control. For more information about treatment, click here.

If you have any more questions about sexual health, please come visit us at the Wellness Centre! We answer sexual health questions and also sell safer sex products (condoms, toys, etc.) at cost.

For more STI information, visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/stis-101

Post written by Sierra Peterson

STI information referenced from the Public Health Agency of Canada (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/sexual-health.html)

HIV treatment information referenced from CATIE(http://www.catie.ca/en/basics/hiv-and-aids#cure)

Sexual Health 101 – Bacterial STIs

Part 1: Bacterial STIs

As a student, there are many aspects of maintaining your physical wellbeing: things like sleep, nutrition, exercise, and sexual health all contribute. Since it can be somewhat of a taboo topic, sexual health is a topic that many students have questions about. Knowing some of the basics about STIs, including how they are transmitted and how they are treated, is important to maintaining a happy and healthy sex life. This series will go through a few of the most common STIs, as well as some other important components of sexual health.

To start off: what is a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

A Sexually Transmitted Infection, otherwise known as an STI, is an infection that can be acquired from having sex. STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can affect your sexual and reproductive organs, while others like HIV and syphilis can cause general body infections.

I’ve been using the term STI, although most of us likely grew up hearing the term STD instead. “STD” is old language that is not used in Canada anymore. 

A bacterial STI is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by bacteria and usually curable through antibiotic treatment. Listed below are some of the most common bacterial STIs, including causes, testing, and treatment.

CHLAMYDIA

What is it? Chlamydia is an STI caused by bacteria, common among teenagers and young adults. Since it can cause serious health problems, it must be treated.

How do you get it? Chlamydia can be acquired through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a person who has the infection.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptom for Chlamydia is no symptoms at all! This is the case for 80% of women and 60% of men. Having no signs or symptoms means that you can pass it on without knowing you have it! However, if it does present itself in symptoms:

o   Male: burning feeling during urination, a watery/milky discharge coming out of the penis, burning or itching around the hole of the penis, pain in the testicles

o   Female: a change or increase in discharge from the vagina, an itchy vagina, small amount of bleeding during or after vaginal sex, painful urination, pain in the lower abdomen

How do you get tested? A doctor or nurse will check for infection by either taking a swab from the cervix (the opening to the uterus), taking a urine sample, or taking a swap from the urethra (the opening of the penis). This can be done at.Student Health Service at UBC Hospital.

How is it treated? Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics, which can be prescribed by the physicians at Student Health. It is also important to tell your sexual partner(s), both past and present, that you have chlamydia, since they also need to be treated.

 

GONORRHEA

What is it? Gonorrhea is an STI caused by bacteria that can infect the penis, rectum, throat, eyes, or cervix. Since it can cause serious health problems, it must be treated.

How do you get it? Gonorrhea can be acquired through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who has the infection.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptom for Gonorrhea is no symptoms at all! Having no signs or symptoms means that you can pass it on without knowing you have it. However, if it does present itself in symptoms:

o   Male: a burning feeling during urination, a thick green-yellow discharge coming out of the penis, burning/itching around the hole of the penis, pain in the testicles

o   Female: a change or increase in discharge from the vagina, small amount of bleeding during or after vaginal sex, painful urination, pain in the lower abdomen

How do you get tested? A doctor or nurse will check for infection by either taking a swab from the cervix (the opening to the uterus), taking a urine sample, or taking a swap from the urethra (the opening of the penis). This can be done at Student Health Service at UBC Hospital.

How is it treated? Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics, which can be prescribed by the physicians at Student Health. It is also important to tell your sexual partner(s) that you have gonorrhea, since they also need to be treated.

 

SYPHILIS

What is it? Syphilis is an STI caused by bacteria which are most often sexually transmitted. Since it can cause serious health problems, it must be treated.

How do you get it? Syphilis can be acquired through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a person who has the infection. The infection is spread through contact with the sores or rashes.

What are the symptoms? Painless sores on the genitals, or they can be hidden in the mouth, vagina, or rectum. It can also cause a rash anywhere on the body. You may also feel like you have the flu.

How do you get tested? You can get a blood test at Student Health Service.

How is it treated? Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, usually penicillin, through injections. It is also important to tell your sexual partner(s) that you have syphilis, since they also need to be treated. Once you have been treated, you will need to go back for blood tests to make sure the medication worked, and that you are cured of the infection.

The bottom line: condom use is key to preventing the spread of bacterial STIs. At the Wellness Centre, we sell 8 different condom varieties at cost, meaning that it’s much cheaper compared to what you’d find at the Drug Store! Visit us this summer from 11am-3pm, Tuesday-Thursday, to find out more.

For more STI information, visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/stis-101

Stay tuned for Part 2: Viral STIs (HPV, Herpes, HIV)!

Post written by Sierra Peterson

 

STI information referenced from the Public Health Agency of Canada (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/sexual-health.html)

STI/STD comparison information referenced from stdcheck.com

Week 4 of the Healthy Relationships Campaign- Fostering Relationships with Others

As University students, it seems almost inevitable that we find our plates full with academic course load, volunteer, work, or other extra curricular activities. During these moments, it is easy and tempting to pass over social activities and forgo meeting friends or calling home in order to catch up on that last minute essay or lab report. However, it is important to remember how important our social network can be when it comes to times of stress and hardship.
During the last week of February, the Wellness Peers will be focusing on the topic of Fostering Relationships with Others, especially during moments in life when we may be most likely to neglect them. Check out the video below for student tips, perspectives, and ideas!  

Week 3 of the Healthy Relationships Campaign- Having Difficult Conversations

Welcome to Week 3 of the Healthy Relationships Campaign! This week, the Wellness Peers will be sharing their perspectives and offering suggestions on how to have difficult conversations with people you care about.

A healthy relationship does not mean a perfect one, and it is inevitable that conflict arises once in awhile between two individuals who deeply care for each other. It can be between two lovers, two close friends, and family members. Often, these conversations can feel awkward, nerve-wracking, and even terrifying because it requires individuals to be both vulnerable and empathetic while at the same time, trying to resolve an underlying layer of tension. However, these feelings are perfectly normal and if handled properly, these difficult conversations can work to strengthen existing relationships.

Check out the video below to see what fellow students have to say about the topic!

Sex in All Languages

January was Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an initiative that aims to raise awareness and understanding about the issues around sexual assault. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a collaborative initiative that has been running since 2010 at UBC, involving many campus partners to provide inclusive and action-based programming. This year, some events for SAAM included Denim Day, a number of workshops on issues on  sexual violence, and consent booths around campus.

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I decided to attend an event hosted by the Global Lounge, called Sex in all Languages. As someone growing up in a traditional Chinese household in Canada, I was curious about the different experiences and perspectives on sexual norms, expectations, and practices from others cultures.

Upon arriving at the Global Lounge, I was surprised at the sheer number of people who came to attend the event. My surprise mostly came from my knowledge that sex has historically been a rather taboo conversation topic and the fact that 40 or more people of various backgrounds attended meant that there was huge interest in discussing the topic!

After mingling with the attendees and facilitators before the start of the event, I realized just how diverse a group this was. There were people of all cultures, orientations, and religious backgrounds – to me, it was a truly unique experience.

After hearing about the experiences and perspectives from a diverse group of panelists, we were able to choose a topic that interested us for smaller, more in-depth discussions.

Topics included:

  1. Virginity and sexual debut, sex before or after marriage, first time experiences
  2. LGBTQ, gender non-binary
  3. Sexual norms in different cultures
  4. Consent and talking about sex in a healthy way
  5. Interracial and intercultural relationship/sexual experience
  6. Your sexual journey

The small group tables for each topic were arranged so that people could all sit around them cross-legged and were draped in a colourful embroidered fabrics. Each table was stocked with a different kind of tea and colouring pages. I chose to go to the LGBTQ+ and the My Sexual Journey tables. We talked about a variety of topics such as whether consent was different for people in the LGBTQ+ community, how identifying as a particular sexual orientation can have political reasons, and how our views on sex have changed over the years. Any discomfort I had at first was quickly diminished by everyone else’s open-minded, non-judgmental attitudes. At the end of the night, I was left wanting to go to more tables. Being able to talk in such an inclusive space with complete strangers about one of the most intimate, personal aspects of myself was a unique and powerful experience for me.

I think this was a great event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month as it opened up the dialogue for various topics surrounding sex that are not normally discussed. I hope organizations on campus continue to create safe spaces like this one for people to feel empowered to talk about their own experiences with sex.

The event was developed in partnership with a number of campus groups including:

UBC Equity AmbassadorsUBC Hua DialogueGlobal LoungeUBC Intercultural AllianceACAM DialoguesSAAM committeeResidence Life, and the Equity and Inclusion Office

If you’re interested, make sure to check these groups out!

Post written by: Maria Zhu

Week 2 of the Healthy Relationships Campaign- Self-Empowerment

Welcome back to the second week of our healthy relationships series! This week, we’re talking about self-empowerment.

What does it mean to you? How can you find and maintain self-empowerment? What about feeling empowered in relationships?

For some people, self-empowerment means making active decisions in their own lives, like setting goals and making positive choices. For others, it means doing whatever makes them feel the best from within. All in all, empowerment has a different meaning and story for every individual.

Empowerment is an important topic because it helps us strive to be the best versions of ourselves. When we feel empowered, we can foster a stronger, healthier relationship with ourselves. Check out the video to learn more about self-empowerment and to hear what helps Wellness Peers feel empowered.

Week 1 of the Healthy Relationships Campaign- How to Give and Get Consent

In February, relationships are on the forefront of many students’ minds. It’s the season when we celebrate our valuable connections and reflect on the challenging ones.

Healthy and respectful relationships with yourself and others can go a long way. When we feel supported, loved, and cared for, we can strive to be better versions of ourselves. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the Wellness Peers will be exploring different aspects of healthy relationships throughout the month of February. Each week, check our blog for videos to learn more about the joys and challenges of relationships — the ones we have with ourselves and others.

This week’s video is about consent. Whether it’s between friends, colleagues, teammates, or partners, getting and giving consent in all relationships allows everyone to feel respected and heard. It shows that you care about the other person, and sets a strong foundation for happy, healthy relationships. Check out the video below to learn more about the importance of giving and getting consent — even if you’ve known the person for a while.

 

Doing the Do

Post written by Madison Candline, Wellness Assistant

Sex is everywhere. We are born into a hypersexualized culture, where images and their implications groom us as little humans into the kind of sexual beings we’re supposed to be. Unfortunately, the messaging is not only heteronormative, restricting to our sexual exploration, but it’s also incredibly hard to live up to.

We all feel the pressure. But how can we make sure that this pressure does not negatively affect the choices we make about our sexual experiences?

At one point, even I gave into the casual sex-thing millennials are imagined to be doing. Personally, it was far from fulfilling. I finally realized that although that may work for some, it just wasn’t working for me. University culture can magnify the pressure to have sex as there’s the university/college stereotype that everyone is young and horny and sleeping around. Knowing the truth that people are actually having sex much less often than we might typically think can help take a bit of the pressure to “do it” off.

The Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) collected data from more than 30,000 students from more than 30 Canadian post-secondary institutions in June of 2013 in a survey known as the National College Health Assessment (NCHA). The data below collected in British Columbia may surprise you – not everyone is actually doing-the-do:

  • When asked about intercourse, 26.6% students said they had never had [vaginal] intercourse. That’s slightly more than 1 in 4 students. And this is without taking into account differences in sexuality and/or those who are not interested in vaginal sex.
    • 72.2% have never had anal sex, and 26% had never had oral sex
  • With regards to frequency, those who are having or have had [vaginal] sex, there’s 21.0% who haven’t done it in the last 30 days.
    • From those who have had anal sex, 22.2% had not done it in the last 30 days
    • From those who have had oral sex, 28.4% had not had it in the last 30 days.
  • When asked how many sexual partners they’d had in the last year, 29.3% said they had none, and 48.1% had only had one.
    • The remaining 21.2% had between 2-8 and only 1.4% had 8+.

The above stats do not reflect the diversity of sexual experience and sexualities on university campuses, as penetrative intercourse is definitely not the only form of sex/sexual activity people engage in. Sex can mean something different to everyone. For some it may be penetration, but to others it could be other forms of intimacy like sexual touching, or even masturbation, for example.

The pressure to have sex, especially in university, can be very frustrating and possibly even isolating if you’re not having “enough” or are having “too much”. Maybe you’re questioning your sexuality or gender orientation. But, (as the data would indicate) if it seems like everyone is talking about sex, chances are they’re probably not all actually having sex! The only right time for sex is when you’re ready. But how do we know what “ready” looks and feels like?

  • Check out Scarleteen.com for a great “checklist” to help you go through any questions or concerns you may have about being ready for sex. This website is a sex ed resource where professionals in the field of sex and sexuality respond to the diverse questions and concerns of real and curious young adults.
  • Sexualityandu.ca also has some great info on how to communicate with your partner about being ready to have sex.
    • Being ready for sex means being ready to have conversations with your partner(s) about how to protect against pregnancy and STI’s, and also being able to discuss your boundaries with each other. Having these discussions are important for your safety, but also your enjoyment!
  • The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, located on the third floor of the Nest (room 3127) at UBC’s Vancouver Campus, is available for conversations around sexuality, sex positivity, healthy relationships, and sexual assault support.

Whether you’re having lots of sex, have never had sex, never want to have sex, or are floating somewhere in the middle of all this, your feelings are valid. You are the only one who gets to dictate where you want your sex life to go. What matters most is that you are happy with your choices, healthy with choices, and feel in control of your choices regarding sex.

Good Sex is Safer Sex: Drop-in STI testing on March 25

Have Good Sex - Web Graphics_500px

For those that are sexually active, it is important to remember that there are certain responsibilities attached to that decision. Good sex is safer sex, which includes getting consent (an enthusiastic and freely given “yes!”), using protection, and knowing your status by getting tested for sexually transmitted infections.

Get Tested: Pop in for a Test on March 25

Drop in for a STI test on March 25th from 2-4pm at Student Health Service, no appointment necessary, or make an appointment for a later date by calling: 604-822-7011.

Know your status

It is very unlikely for symptoms to be apparent for the majority of people infected. There is great risk here as individuals can pass on an infection unknowingly. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested. If an STI is detected, treating it early can prevent further health complications.

Testing is quick and easy

There are no painful swabs or invasive procedures. Student Health Services tests for chlamydiagonorrheasyphilis, and HIV by using both blood and urine samples. The urine samples require that you hold off on urinating for 2 hours before your appointment, which may require some planning, but it ensures an accurate test.

The test will begin with a short consultation with a doctor about your sexual history.The test is free for almost all UBC students. Remember to bring your UBC student card as well as your coverage card. Coverage and possible fees will also be discussed during the consultation period with the doctor. Results are delivered over the phone; the clinic will only call you if there is a positive result which usually occurs within a week. The test is fully confidential and your results will only be shared with you.

If you would like more information regarding STI testing or any other sexual health information, visit the UBC Wellness Center located in the basement of IKB and speak with a Wellness Peer or visit the Live Well website.

If You’re Going to Have Sex…

I never quite understood just how positive and empowering good sex could be until my first clinic visit for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Once I got tested, I understood how knowing my status could help me feel comfortable and confident with my partners and teach me how I could help them do the same. So now I tell everyone who will listen not only about how important STI testing is, but also how great it can be! This is why we at The Wellness Centre have teamed up with Student Health Services to promote on campus drop in STI testing on Wednesday March 12th, from 2-4 pm. Continue reading “If You’re Going to Have Sex…”

Healthy Relationships and Talking to your Partner about Contraception

It is important to remember that there is a broad range of relationships, and that it is essential for any of these relationships to be healthy. There is no clear definition of a healthy or unhealthy relationship but generally, a healthy relationship possesses a series of characteristics that can be described in terms of how they affect one’s mental-health.

From Flickr Creative Commons

A healthy relationship has a strong foundation. Honesty is very important; a relationship based on lies gives no common ground for the soil and nourishment of a healthy relationship. Talking to your partner about contraception can be intimidating, but it is important to be direct and communicate what you feel comfortable with to your partner. Don’t be afraid to bring up contraception because not only will it benefit you and your partners sexual health, it will provide a basis of respect and may bring the relationship closer. Respect is another important component that allows for ideas and views to be indulged equally. Respecting one another’s feelings and thoughts is a cherishable quality to look for in any relationship. Commitment is just as important as any of the previously listed qualities. Remember that you, just as much as anybody else, deserve and have a right to your opinions, desires, and needs; however, there is no need to be aggressive about it either. Assertiveness is about expressing your concerns in a polite manner by using a lot of I-statements, such as, “I do not feel comfortable with your proposition” or “When this happens, I feel ________”. I-statements are a great way to express your concern about something. Continue reading “Healthy Relationships and Talking to your Partner about Contraception”

Let’s talk about Sex!

What do you think of when someone brings up the topic of sex?

Photo from Flikr with Creative Commons licence

In talking with my friends or others, it is obvious that everyone has their own understanding and comfort level surrounding this subject. Sometimes it can feel like the messages we get about sex are more negative than positive. A new idea that I’ve been learning about is the concept of “sex positivity.”  Thinking of sex positivity is important in both personal development and society. Sometimes I forget about the enlightenment of sex because I get weighed down hearing about all of the the negativity surrounding it. It has helped me to equally think of the positive features such as sexual pleasure rather than complications such as disease, sexual assault, or unwanted pregnancies. Here are some sex-positive facts that I found useful to know, and to share with others:

Continue reading “Let’s talk about Sex!”

“Get Pap’d”- Drop in pap testing at Student Health Service

Drop-in pap tests

Date: Wednesday, March 27
Time: 1pm to 4pm
Details: If you’re due for a pap test this year, come by Student Health Service during this time and “get pap’d”! Wellness Peers will also be at Student Health Service with free mini-cupcakes and more information during this time.

More information about pap tests

What is the pap test?

A routine screening done by a doctor or nurse to check for signs of abnormal cell growth in the cervix, infections, or cervical cancer.

Why should you get regular pap tests?

  • This can save your life! The chances of curing cervical cancer in early stages is very high [3].
  • Early detection of infections or abnormal cell growth allows for the doctor to provide you with the right treatment to prevent cervical cancer from occurring [3].

Who should get pap tests?

Anyone with a cervix who:

  • had sexual activity or sexual contact in the last three years [3];
  • and/or is 21 years older and older  [3].

You will need to continue with pap testing even if you have received HPV vaccinations such as Gardasil [1].

Human Papillomavirus (aka HPV) are a group of viruses that can lead to cancer if the infections are not treated properly. This virus is the main cause of cervical cancer can be contracted through any kind of sexual touching [1].

When should you get the pap test?

Around 10 to 20 days after the first day of your last period. This means to schedule your pap test when you are NOT on your period.

This test should be done once per year for three consecutive years and once every two years thereafter.

Where can you get the pap test?

What should you do to prepare for the pap test?

Doctors suggest to avoid the following for two days prior to the exam:

  • Douching
  • Using tampons
  • Using vaginal creams, suppositories, and medicine
  • Using vaginal deodorant sprays/powders
  • Having sex

These may affect the test results by washing away or hiding abnormal cervical cells [3].

How much does this exam cost?

The pap test are covered by MSP. There are no extra charges.

Other frequently asked questions:

Q: Do I need a pap test if I am in a same-sex relationship [1]?
A: Yes!

Q: Do I need a pap test if I have not been sexually active recently but have been in the past [1]?
A: Yes!

Q: Do I need a pap test if I have been having sex with the same partner for many years [1]?
A: Yes!

Q: Do I need a pap test if I have not been having sexual intercourse but have been having sexual activity in other ways [1]?
A: Yes!

Q: Do I need a pap test even if I have had the HPV vaccine [1]?
A: Yes!

References:

1. A pap test could save your life. (2012, July ).

2. Pap tests. (2011, Feb 17). 

3. Pap test fact sheet. (2009, Jan 14). 

Get the free, rapid HIV test

YouTube Preview Image
Nurse Cherlyn Cortes explains what’s involved in a rapid HIV test.

During OutWeek 2013, Know on the Go, PrideUBC, YouthCo and UBC Student Health Service are pleased to offer free, drop-in, rapid HIV testing in the SUB on:

  • Drop-in: February 5, 11am–4 pm, SUB, room 42V and 224
  • Drop-in: February 8, 7pm–11pm, SUB, Council Chambers and room 211
  • Appointments are also available on February 5 and 8 (see the bottom of this post)

How rapid is “rapid” HIV testing?

Results are available in as little as five minutes. A nurse will also speak with you about the test and answer any questions you have before and after the test.

Why should you consider the test?

Being aware of your sexual health is an important aspect of your overall health, and knowing your status is one of the most important ways you can be aware.

Speak to a doctor if you’re ever concerned about your sexual health. If you’re sexually active, get tested yearly (or up to every 3 months if you engage in unprotected sex or use injection drugs).

Even if you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, it is best to always use protection and for you and your partner to get tested regularly.

More information

Learn more about sexually transmitted infections like HIV.

Make a rapid HIV test appointment

Tuesday, February 5: SUB, room 56A

11:00 AM

11:30 AM

12:00 PM

12:30 PM

1:00 PM

1:30 PM

2:00 PM

2:30 PM

3:00 PM

3:30 PM

Friday, February 8: SUB Council Chambers and room 211

7:00 PM

7:30 PM

8:00 PM

8:30 PM

9:00 PM

9:30 PM

10:00 PM

10:30 PM

 

Protect yourself against HPV: Free vaccine program

Cells
Image credit: Student Communications Services / euthman via Flickr

 

Update, March 6, 2013: Please note that this free offer is no longer available

B.C. is providing the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, called Cervarix™ at no cost to anyone with a cervix who was born in 1991, 1992, or 1993. Cervarix protects against the two types of human papillomaviruses that cause seven-out-of-ten cases of cancer of the cervix.

How does the free vaccine program work?

For those who meet the above-mentioned qualifications, the vaccine is free at public health units and most university health units, including UBC’s Student Health Service. Three doses of the vaccine are administered: one initial dose, and additional doses at one month and six months after the initial dose.

This program is only available while supplies of the free vaccine last.

To get the vaccine, make an appointment with Student Health Service by calling 604.822.7011, or by visiting the clinic in person. The Student Health Service clinic is located on the main floor of the UBC Hospital at M334-2211 Wesbrook Mall.

What if I don’t meet the requirements for the program, or the program ends before I’m able to get vaccinated?

If you weren’t born in 1991 to 1993, or are unable to get vaccinated before the program ends, you can still get vaccinated for a cost of about $90 per dose (Gardasil, an alternate HPV vaccine, is also available at a cost of $133 per dose). UBC Student Health Service offers vaccinations for students year-round.

Should men get vaccinated too?

Getting vaccinated against HPV is equally important for women and men.

What is HPV?

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Three-out-of-four sexually active women will get HPV at some point in their lives. Anyone who has any kind of sexual activity involving genital, anal, or oral contact can get HPV. You can get infected without having sexual intercourse [1].

Where can I get more information?

More information about HPV, the free vaccination program, and who should get the vaccine is available in this recent Immunize BC health bulletin.

Do I still need to get a Pap test?

Even if you’ve been vaccinated or are thinking of getting vaccinated for HPV, you should still get regular Pap tests if you have a cervix. Learn more about who needs a Pap test.

 
[1] HPV (Human Papillomavirus) One-Time Vaccine Program for Young Women, Immunize BC, April 11, 2012

Who should get a Pap test?

Woman's finger with ribbon tied around it
Image credit: Student Communications Services / BC Cancer Agency

Even busy students need to think about getting regular Pap tests. The BC Cancer Agency has outlined a few quick tips on who should get a Pap test, and why Paps are important:

Who should get Paps

  • Anyone with a cervix, aged 21 – 69, who has ever had any kind of sexual contact, including intimate touching, oral, vaginal and anal sex, should be getting regular Pap tests.
  • You should start with one Pap a year for three years, then every two years until age 69.

You should still be getting regular Paps even if…

  • You’ve had the HPV vaccine
  • You’ve been with your partner for a while
  • You’ve been through menopause
  • You’re no longer having sex
  • You’re in a same-sex relationship.

Why Paps are important

  • Pap tests can find abnormal cells on the cervix that you can’t see or feel.
  • Treating these cells early can stop cervical cancer from developing.
  • Those who get regular Paps are at very low risk for cervical cancer.

Get your Pap

Student Health Service, the on-campus medical clinic for students, offers Pap tests for UBC students. To make an appointment for your Pap test, call 604.822.7011 or book online.

Set a reminder for your next Pap

Once you’ve had your Pap, set up an email reminder for your next one at www.LACEcampaign.com.

PSYC 350A: Sex Info Central

When registering for classes last year, my friend Ale recommended I check out PSYC 350A-“le human sexuality class”.  This is the most comprehensive body of information on sexuality I have found to date.  Aside from being entertaining, the class replaces widespread myths with research-backed findings. So far Dr. Jason Winters has covered the hard facts about:

  • Anatomy and people’s relationship with their body
  • Attraction and arousal
  • Sexual behaviour (fantasies, masturbation, intercourse in all positions, …)
  • Sexual orientation (gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer, asexual… you name it!)
  • Relationships
  • Coming up: STIs, atypical sexuality, sex for pay, etc.

In addition to increasing my body satisfaction and confidence in my ability to successfully maintain a relationship, this class has showed me there’s a world of possibility when it comes to sexuality.

Dr. Winters is humorous and will use plain language to answer any question students dare fire away.  His epic stories never fail to give me a good laugh.  A real must for UBC students interested in learning more about sexuality, health, relationship management and well-being.  Winters tops it off by posting information about  human sexuality on his open blog for PSYC 350A.

Women’s Health and Contraception

Woman sitting in a doctor's office speaking with a doctor
Image Credit: Student Communications Services

 

On this International Women’s Day, keep your sexual health in mind! Sex can be fun and positive but it is also important to be prepared and aware of the risks. Educating yourself is the best way to prepare for sexual activity and its potential consequences.  Did you know that 85% of unintended pregnancies occur when no contraception is used[1]? If you are concerned about sexual health and possible pregnancies, there are many different types of contraception available for women to consider.   Continue reading “Women’s Health and Contraception”

Healthy Minds Tip: Learn More About Pap Tests

Learn about pap tests. Be proactive. Protect your health.
Image credit: euthman via Flickr / Student Communications Services

What is this mysterious Pap test we hear about so often? And how do you know if you need to get one?

Let’s get some answers! First off, a Pap test (or Pap smear) is a routine screening procedure performed by a doctor or nurse. It is a sample of cells collected from the cervix that are spread onto a slide and sent to the Cervical Cancer Screening Laboratory in Vancouver. It’s then examined for signs of abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are found, physicians can initiate early treatment to stop cervical cancer from developing. The Pap test may also detect infections and abnormalities in the endocervix and endometrium.

So who needs Pap tests? The answer to that question is relatively simple: anyone with a cervix. More specifically, regular Pap tests should begin at age 21 or approximately 3 years after first sexual activity or sexual contact, whichever occurs first. Then, regular pap tests should be repeated every 12 months until there are three consecutive negative results, then continue every 2 years. It’s important to note that you should get tested if you’ve had sexual contact because HPV (Human Papillomavirus, a virus that can cause those pre-cancerous changes in the cervical cells) can be transmitted via skin-to-skin genital contact, not just through penetrative sexual intercourse.

Even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine (e.g. Gardasil), you should still get regular Pap tests, as the vaccine doesn’t cover all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. You should ask your doctor about Pap tests if you’ve ever had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).

Drop-in pap tests
Drop-in pap tests will be offered at Student Health Service on Wednesday, March 7 from 12 Noon to 7:30 pm.  Keep in mind that only pap tests and appropriate STI testing will be offered for drop-in appointments; no other health concerns can be addressed. Additional STI testing may include:

  • Cervical cultures for gonorrhea and Chlamydia
  • Blood tests (optional) for HIV and syphilis

To learn more about Pap tests, visit the BC Cancer Agency.