Playing Catch

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How does someone get an STI? And how do I know if I need tested?

Playing catch with a baseball is a fun, harmless pastime—playing “catch” with STIs is a different ballgame. Whether you’ve heard them called Sexually Transmitted Infections or Diseases, you know they don’t sound like a walk in the park. STIs are a serious business, but they also don’t have to be the end of the world. Here’s what you need to know about how they are contracted and when you might need testing or treatment:

Most STIs are contracted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person. Some STIs, however, can also be spread through skin-to-skin contact (such as mutual masturbation, “dry sex,” or prolonged kissing), or spread to babies during childbirth or potentially pregnancy. Still others can be spread through non-sexual contact including reusing or sharing syringes (or even tattoo needles!) with an infected person.

Many people think that if their partner has an STI, they will see it. That is a huge misconception, however, because many STIs don’t show symptoms right away or at all. Even if there are no outward symptoms or immediate physical discomfort, many STIs have long-term consequences if they go untested and untreated. They can lead to more diseases, infertility, birth defects, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, cancer, and in rare cases even death. No matter what kind of STI a person is exposed to, early testing and treatment is key.

If you are wondering if you need tested, here is a quick list of pointers:

  • Anytime you have a new sexual partner, you should get tested.
  • If your partner has had any new sexual partners, you should get tested.
  • Anytime you have sex with a person who has a known infection (even if you used condoms), you should get tested.
  • Anytime you experience unusual symptoms after a sexual encounter (genital pain, warts, bleeding, pain while urinating, abnormal discharge, etc.), you should get tested.
  • If you test positive for an STI and get treatment, you may need to schedule another appointment three months after your initial appointment to get re-tested.

Remember: the only ways to be 100% safe against STI’s are to not engage in any sexual activity that puts you at risk for STI’s (refer to second paragraph of this article), or to only have sex in a committed, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who is uninfected.

STIs are certainly a risk that comes with being sexually active, but there are ways to keep yourself safer:

  • Latex condoms can be effective at preventing some STIs if used correctly and consistently. However, the typical use failure rate is 18%.
  • Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B.
  • Get tested, treated, and re-tested responsibly (see above).
  • Ask your partner about their sexual history, and ask them to get tested if they have had previous partners.

If you have any questions about your sexual health or want to schedule an appointment give us a call today!

Sources for this article are available upon request.

Choose Knowledge: Is an abortion right for you?

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If I’m considering an abortion, what do I need to know?

Suspicion of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can flood your mind with surprise, panic, frustration, and a whole lot of questions. The first decision that can and should always be made is knowledge. Know your options, know your risks, know your needs, know your resources. Luckily, our staff at Choices Medical can help you make the choice to know.

While we do not perform or refer for abortions, there are several resources we can offer—for free— as you make a choice about your pregnancy.

  • Medical grade pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. Even if you’ve already taken an at-home pregnancy test, our medical grade hCG urine pregnancy test can confirm your pregnancy so that you know for sure. As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed, we offer a limited OB ultrasound which can determine if your pregnancy is viable and in the right place. This provides you with vital information on your pregnancy’s development, which is necessary to have when reviewing the abortion options available to you.
  • STI testing and treatment. You might be thinking “I’m here about a pregnancy…why would I need to think about STIs?” Well, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, having gonorrhea, chlamydia, or bacterial vaginosis can increase a woman’s chance of having an infection after an abortion procedure. This is important because more than one million pregnant women are annually diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. At our clinics, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing can be performed on the same urine sample that you provide for your pregnancy test. Bacterial vaginosis testing is also available. If you test positive for one of these infections, treatment is available at no cost to you. Testing and treatment appointments are also available for your sexual partner.
  • Options and abortion information. There are several things that have to be taken into account when considering abortion—a pregnancy’s viability, length of development, cost of procedure, type of procedure, previous health conditions, and other medical stipulations. When you come into our clinic for a pregnancy test, we can give you information and education about abortion, as well as what your other options are.

If your heart is racing or your mind is anxious with the possibility of a pregnancy, slow down, take a deep breath, and know that you are not alone. Your health and safety are important to us, and choosing to know your options is a great first step to take. Make an appointment today!

Sources for this article are available upon request.

What is Sexual Consent? Understanding Yes & No

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Consent is an absolutely vital part of any kind of sexual behavior, regardless of gender, orientation, or status of relationship. Understanding and respecting consent is necessary to being healthy, safe, and even legal.

Luckily, consent isn’t difficult to understand. It means to agree, give permission, or say “yes” to sexual activity with another person. Consent must be voluntary and mutual between partners.

Sounds easy, right? So why does consent still get violated or misunderstood? Sometimes, it is out of malicious intention to harm another person. Often, however, it is a problem of “assumption.”

Consent should NOT be assumed by:

  • Body language, Appearance, or Non-Verbal Communication: One should never assume by the way a person dresses, smiles, looks or acts, that they want to have sex with you.
  • Dating Relationships or Previous Sexual Activity: Simply because two people are dating or have had sex in the past does not mean that they are consenting to have sex with you. Also, consent to engage in one sexual activity at one time is not consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage in the same sexual activity on a later occasion.
  • Marriage: Even in marriage, a person should not assume they have consent for sexual activity. Marital rape is as serious as any other sexual assault.
  • Silence, Passivity, Lack of Resistance, or Immobility: A person’s silence should not be considered consent. A person who does not respond to attempts to engage in sexual activity, even if they do not verbally say no or resist physically, is not clearly agreeing to sexual activity. The absence of a “no” does not equal “yes.”
  • Incapacitation: Alcohol consumption or use of other drugs can cause a person to be incapable of giving consent. Alcohol is often used as a weapon to target individuals and is used by perpetrators to excuse their own actions.

There are a couple of other key things to know when it comes to consent. One important factor to keep in mind is that there are serious legal ramifications for engaging in sexual activity with anyone under age, whether it is mutually consensual or not. Know the law, keep the law, or reap the consequences. And secondly, remember: consent can be withdrawn at any time. No means no, and each person has the right to change their mind even after sexual activity has begun.

Let’s talk about what positive consent DOES look like in the moment:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this okay?”
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
  • Using obvious physical cues (head nods, two thumbs up, etc.) to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level.

Consistent, open communication about consent is key to keeping yourself safe. If you or someone that you know has not had their consent respected, we want to help. Please visit our clinic or give us a call today.

Like anything with relationships, the best thing to do if you’re not sure is to just ask. You got this!

Sources for this article are available upon request.

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