Take responsibiltiy for your sexual health

April was Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness month. Our coalition partner Planned Parenthood refers to it as Get Yourself Tested Month – which we think it an important call to action.

The month was aimed at promoting education, prevention, and of course, getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Because really, getting tested is pretty easy.

Sure, it’s not something you look forward to – but if you aren’t getting tested then you aren’t taking responsibility for your own health or the health of your sexual partner(s).

And it’s not just something you need to do in your 30s. Teens and young adults account for more than half of the cases of Gonorrhea in South Dakota and there were 707 cases reported in the state during 2012. What’s more, a sexually active teen who does not use contraception has a 90-percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

Regardless of your age: sex comes with responsibilities. It’s important to protect yourself by using condoms – other contraceptives do not protect against STDs. It’s also important to talk about your sexual history, and that of your would-be partner, before having sex (wait until after and you might be unpleasantly surprised). Get tested for STDs. Ask your doctor questions.

Getting tested is even more important because some STDs, like Chlamydia, don’t always present symptoms. Up to 75 percent of women with Chlamydia don’t have symptoms, which is dangerous because left untreated Chlamydia can lead to complications such as inflammation, infertility or miscarriage. But again, it is completely treatable if caught early. In 2012 alone there were 3,922 cases of Chlamydia reported in South Dakota.

The statistics aren’t great: 1 in 2 sexually active people will get a STD by the age of 25. So in other words, if you get a STD, you’re not alone. But there is good news – some STDs are curable and all are treatable.

So, if you didn’t get around to it in April, you should still go out and celebrate Get Yourself Tested Month the right way – by taking responsibility for your sexual well-being today. While April may be the month when we celebrate it officially, taking responsibility for your sexual health is important throughout the year.