Hello, female brethren. Is there a female word for brethren? Okay, I Googled it, and it’s sistren, which is super weird because I have never heard this word in my life, and even spell-check is telling me it’s wrong, but IT IS NOT. Also, spell-check does not flag brethren, so yeah, that means spell-check is sexist. Do better, world.
Anyway. This conversation we’re about to have is going to be super icky and also NECESSARY, because it’s about sexual health. I literally had a conversation this evening (wine may or may not have been involved) with a friend who was not using protection with a man she barely knows because she assumed they were exclusive. Okay, first of all, NO. Assuming you are the only hole a guy is putting it in without verbal confirmation and possibly a legal contract is incorrect. Just ask Jeff Bezos. Which leads me to believe that the beautiful, smart, successful millennial women I know and love, are not aware of the importance of sexual health. So let me enlighten you. A study performed by Zava, a leading online doctor that operates in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, revealed what women are getting wrong about sexual health, and even though the survey did not poll American women, the findings are nonetheless kind of scary.
But before we get into the scary sh*t, some good news: Zava found that millennials are the most in control of their sexual health, with 29% saying they have at least one STI checkup per year, and 36% of women from 25-24 saying they pay a lot of attention to their discharge. Apparently that 29% statistic is much higher than that of other age groups, which, like, guys?? That’s not good. I get that the older you are, the more likely you are to be in a committed relationship or marriage, but still! If reading Reddit relationship advice forums nonstop has taught me anything, it’s that cheaters gonna cheat. So now let’s get into the more concerning statistics Zava found.
Not Being Tested
According to Zava, 2/5 women across the UK have never had an STI check. Did you guys have that little chart in your college medical office with the people matching? Do you know the one I’m talking about? It shows how many people you’ve basically had sex with in terms of sharing germs—like, one person has sex with one person, they share germs with one person. But one person starts having sex with someone that had sex with two other people, and now it’s like person one had sex with those people, too. And it multiplies. I’m not slut-shaming here (you do you, Samantha Jones), but for the love of God, use protection. STI rates in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2018, so clearly this is not just a problem in jolly old England. No matter where you are, be responsible, use protection, and get tested.
LOL @ this in general. You should never just assume you’re exclusive. And if RHONY has taught me anything, it’s that even when you’re married, maybe you should just be aware, too. You’ve got to protect yourself, and unless you trust the person you’re dating, you’ve had the dreaded “what are we talk”, and you both show clean STI tests, you should definitely be using protection every time and getting tested on the reg. And even after you’ve done those things, still get tested, because it’s literally one extra form to sign off on at your yearly exam anyway. You can never be too careful, and although I’m all for love/trust/etc., you need to protect yourself. Not to bum you out, but PyschCentral says over an entire relationship there’s a 25% chance someone will cheat. Don’t be caught off-guard and risk your health. Also? A friend of mine once told me a story that I think is hilarious/sad/men for you. She was dating a guy, she thought exclusively, and could see him every day except Sunday. She was like, “of course we’re exclusive, he spends almost every day with me.” The mofo had a Sunday girlfriend that he only saw/slept with on Sundays. Protect yourselves, ladies.
Not Paying Attention
This is about to be super gross, but it’s also necessary and I’m only telling you this because I love you. A sad but real truth is that most women do not know wtf is going on in their vaginas. I don’t know where you went to school, how good your sex ed was, or what you think is normal. But according to Zava, only 16% of UK women actually follow medical advice and have a checkup once a year, and 62% don’t pay attention to what is going on down there. Ladies, you’ve got to educate yourselves and make sure you know the signs of an infection, in addition to getting regular checkups and testing. Without treatment, you could have serious health effects, including becoming infertile, or God forbid you have an STI and don’t treat it that causes you to become infertile. Just be aware. This infograph from Zava is super helpful, especially if you grew up in an area of the country with terrible sex ed (so like, many areas).
Thinking You’d “Know”
Have I traumatized you yet? No? Let’s go ahead and make it worse. Only 19% of women were able to recognize the symptoms of thrush correctly. I don’t even know wtf thrush is, so I looked it up, and it’s what the Brits call a yeast infection. The scary part is that women assume that they know the symptoms of disease or infection, when the truth is they do not! Also, there are some types of infection where 70% of women don’t even show symptoms at all! So how would you know? Especially when Zava states that 61% of women had little to no education on sex health whatsoever. Are you sure you’d know? Are you willing to risk it? Listen, no offense, but unless you’re a f*cking doctor, maybe leave it to the professionals. Get tested, get regular checkups, use protection, and know for sure. Part of being in charge of your sexuality is taking responsibility for your sexual health. Go ahead, be Samantha Jones. Just be smart about it.
Even though education systems and the world in general are like, biased and sexist, we as women have to take charge and be knowledgeable about our reproductive health. One more time for the people in back: if you’re sexually active, make sure you are getting tested regularly, and be sure you are checking in on your discharge and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel/smell/look right.
Images: Yuliya Kosolapova / Unsplash; Giphy (2); Zava