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The Itchys and the Scratchies

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By Samantha Berry

 

Sex is not a shameful thing. It happens and it happens a lot. And when you have a place, such as UL, with a lot of sex happening, you have a lot of unpleasant consequences too.

 

Consequences such as STIs is a big, big one. STIs in a sort of a closed community such as a university make the rounds lightning quick. And it’s one of those things people always assume will not effect them because to themselves, they are not a statistic – They’re a person. And yeah, I suppose that person doesn’t look like they’d have an STI, so they probably don’t. Are you going to be saying the same thing a week from then when it hurts to pee and you can’t stop itching? Do you now look like someone who has an STI?

 

My main point on that, lads, is love yourself – You deserve it. Your sexual organs have done nothing but give you pleasure. Is this any way to repay them?

 

Now that we’ve gotten that proper ‘make you think’ portion out of the way, let’s talk about the different ways you can actively protect yourself. Just a warning, this article will not be using euphemisms. It will be frank.

 

The one form of protection that everyone is familiar with is the male condom. If put on correctly (YouTube will be more than happy to show you how) it can protect against a large number of STIs but it does not protect against everything. Any kind of STI that appears on the skin such as genital warts or syphilis can and will be transferred through skin to skin contact and a condom will not protect against these. This is also true for the female condom, which is far less well known than its male counterpart. A female condom is also slightly less safe than a male one as it is a possibility for the penis not to enter it and to in fact enter into the side.

 

One more very well known form of contraception is the pill. But the pill only offers protection from pregnancy; it gives no form of protection against STIs – None at all. Please don’t use it to stop the itchy and the scratchies.

 

If you’re going to be trying a bit of oral, there’s an option for you too! It’s called a Dental Dam. It’s essentially a rectangular piece of flavoured latex that can be used anywhere on the body where a barrier needs to be created. If you’re not sure where to find them or are too shy to go somewhere and get them, you can always cut a condom in half and use that to your advantage. It sounds awkward and not at all sensationally pleasing, but rest assured, a large amount can be felt through it.

 

I know a lot of people really don’t want to go into these areas, they think it’d be way too awkward and potentially humiliating to bring this kind of thing up with their sexual partner as the other party could take offence or not be willing to divulge any information. If they do act like this when all you are doing is trying to keep yourself safe, you might want to re-evaluate them. Everyone deserves respect and if your partner is not willing to respect your decision to keep yourself healthy, bye Felicia.

 

And that’s another thing. Consent. Consent is EVERYTHING. Essentially consent is both parties agree wholeheartedly to engage in sexual intercourse. If you are with someone and they give nothing less than a “Yes”, it is not consent. I can remember one of my friends stated one night in Costellos she walked up to a fella and said straight to him: “Would you like to have sex with me tonight?” and he said yes. It was that easy to make it clear that both parties wanted it.

 

You should never ever feel guilty or ashamed for refusing someone sex. It is your decision and yours only. No one should ever have to convince you or trick you into it. And you can say “No” at any time. Right after saying you’d like to, you can say no and tell them you’re uncomfortable. Half way through the act you can decide you’re not feeling comfortable and say “No”.

 

And if you’re horny and want a good ride, your partner is not up for it and you find yourself going: “Ah go on though. Please…for me?” STOP! That is not okay and not how you should act.

 

And so to end off this article, I’m going to list for you all the STI’s that are curable and ones that are with you for life, along with some resources of where to get checked.

 

Curable:

  • Chancroid
  • Chlamydia
  • Crabs
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Scabies
  • Syphilis
  • Yeast infections

 

Incurable:

  • HIV
  • HPV/Warts
  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis (Hep B can be prevented with a vaccine)

 

For the ones listed under incurable, the symptoms can be treated, but these will stay with you for life.

 

If you’re feeling a little worried or want to get yourself checked, you can go to the STI clinic here in UL. It is by appointment only and costs €30. You can make an appointment by calling 061 202 534 or going to the health centre reception in the main building. Alternately you can go to the University Hospital Limerick in Raheen and make an appointment there by calling 061 482 382. Plus side, the appointment is free.

 

Stay safe and stay healthy!

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