At university, hormones flow like the Euphrates and co-eds bed-hop like it’s going out of style, but are men always wrapping their tools like Bob Vila?
According to a 2005 Statistics Canada health report, 44 per cent of people aged 20-24 didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex, the largest demographic to do so. In the same report, twice as many females as males aged 15-24 were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.
Chris Walsh, health education co-ordinator at Student Health Services, said unprotected sex is a main factor in spreading sexually transmitted infections, as well as infrequent testing, oral and anal sex, sex toys, and drug use. Walsh recommend getting tested before each new sexual relationship and regularly within a long-term relationship.
He emphasized that methods of contraception like birth control pills and hormonal methods don’t protect against STIs, and simply because a student isn’t showing symptoms doesn’t mean he or she isn’t infected or infectious.
“There are many people who feel using condoms sacrifices pleasure,” Walsh said. “However, I certainly wouldn’t consider being infected with an STI pleasurable or worth the risk.”
Alex McKay, research co-ordinator of the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, said since the average age of first marriage in Canada is 28 and the average age of first intercourse is 16 or 17, there is often a number of sequential sexual partners before marriage — relationships that are not always monogamous.
McKay added 90 per cent of Canadians have sex before they marry.
“Even if they think of themselves as being very cautious — if they are practising unprotected sex in those relationships — by the time they’ve reached their mid or late 20s, [they’ve had] unprotected sex with multiple partners.”
McKay said a norm should be established on campuses across the country that condoms are always used, with no ifs ands or buts. He said STIs and unintended pregnancy rates would drop dramatically if this were the case.
Western psychology Professor Bill Fisher said though young adults use condoms and practise safe sex early in relationships, they usually stop once trust is established.
“Recognition of the fact that familiarity and trust are no substitute for latex is going to have to become an automatic and not a thoughtful behaviour in the same sense that people automatically [don’t light] a cigarette in somebody’s living room,” Fisher said.
Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed reportable STI at Canadian universities. According to McKay, chlamydia is not only often asymptotic, but can also damage the female reproductive system, making it one of the leading causes of infertility in Canada.
“I usually get tested twice a year and I’ve [always] used a condom,” said James Lucas, a first-year social science student. “It’s probably [what others should do] but definitely not what they are doing.”
“If you’re going to have sex, then you should wear a condom no matter what.... and get tested regularly,” added Lauren Teremchuk, a third-year history student. “It’s a responsibility for you and the people that you are sleeping with.”
If you have questions or concerns about sexual health, visit Student Health Services or call 519-661-3030.