What’s that in my pants?

The low-down on STIs

The Varsity
University of Toronto

Afton Arlana Chadwick

February 14, 2011

After a long night shaking the book stacks at Robarts, the last thing you want is for your friend to leave something a little more permanent in your pants. Nobody wants a sexually transmitted infection. But in case you do get one, it’s good to get informed about their symptoms and treatments — all in time for Valentine’s Day!

1. Gonorrhea & Chlamydia

These two STIs are grouped together, because they sound like ugly twins and their symptoms are very similar. Gonorrhea is an infection caused by bacteria. Not only can it infect your privates front to back, but also your throat and eyes. That’s right, you really want to avoid gonorrhea of the eyes. On the other hand, chlamydia (gonorrhea’s ugly twin) stays below the belt and is very common among young people. Both are transmitted via unprotected sex, oral included.

The symptoms for gonorrhea and chlamydia are similar, and often, if you have one of them, you should be treated for both. In men, look out for burning when you urinate, green or milky discharge, pain in the testes, and itchiness. For women, symptoms are similar, except the pain will be in your lower abdomen and you may have spotting in between periods. The good news? Both gonorrhea and chlamydia are completely treatable! So if you feel pain when you pee, do get checked, then cross your fingers and hope it’s a urinary tract infection. But if not, no worries.

2. Hepatitis B

Hep B doesn’t get as much attention as the other STIs. Like gonorrhea, you can get it from saliva, semen, and any action below the belt. However, you can also get it from toothbrushes, razors, and tattoo equipment, and anything that could involve blood mingling.

The symptoms for Hep B are also difficult to spot. They include feeling tired, not feeling hungry, and having strange-coloured urine or stool. These are all symptoms that would often be dismissed with a casual “Shouldn’t have eaten that taco,” but it’s always important to get the blood test anyway. And if you are Hep B free, get the vaccine. The vaccine is important because there is no cure for Hep B — you would just have to wait until your body fights it off (during which time you may have to remain sex-free).

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.