Get Yourself Tested. Know Your Status.

Wilce Student Health Center

We have covered several topics related to STD’s this month: getting tested, safer sex, and some STD-related vaccines.  However, sex means lots of things to different people, and it is very important that you (and your clinician) know your exposures and risks in determining what tests need to be done. 

You need to share:

  • How many partners (male, female, or both) you have had.
  • All sexual activities you had with them.
  • Whether or not protection was used.
  • What previous screening you have done.
  • Whether or not you are having any symptoms.

If you are sexually active, have been with more than one person, and were negative at your last screening or have never been tested, you should consider:

  • Urine testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, if you are a male who has had vaginal sex, insertive anal sex  or if you are a female who has had vaginal sex.
  • A rectal swab for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, if you’ve had receptive anal sex.
  • Blood testing for HIV and Syphilis.
  • An examination to check out any bumps, sores, growths that have appeared since your last screening.

A word about oral sex – Risks and testing related to oral sex are somewhat sketchy. If you give oral sex, infections can occur in your mouth or throat, but may be hard to detect. In rare cases, you may also get infections when you receive oral sex. Testing is available for certain types of oral infections.  Talk to your clinician about these risks and tests.

Other tests such as for hepatitis B and C, may be needed for some people, as well.

Once you are tested negative, consider a regular screening schedule every six months, or more often if you are concerned about exposures or symptoms.  For more information, visit the GYT site and read the STD testing FAQ’s.

Please be aware that recommended tests done after you meet with your clinician OFTEN ARE NOT covered under health insurance benefits.   Check out your coverage before your visit, and consider paying for these tests yourself if you are not covered. 

At the end of the day, being well informed, using safer sex methods correctly, and getting screened appropriately will help keep you healthy, and that keeps your next partner healthy, and their next partner, and so on. 

Be Safe! 

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Is my ejaculation normal?

Can I get a semen analysis test to make sure everything is normal?

Continuing our theme of “just out of curiosity” lab tests, a couple of people have recently asked me if they could get a semen analysis just to make sure everything is OK with Big Jim and Twins.  So let’s chat.

Typically a semen analysis is only done for two main reasons: to make sure a vasectomy was successful, and as part of an infertility work-up.  Since these are things we rarely deal with in college health, we hardly ever order them.  When we do, we have to send guys over to the medical center to get it done.

A semen analysis measures the volume and pH (acidity level) of the semen as well as the concentration, shape and motility of the sperm.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the “volume” thing is what is getting some guys worried. 

Despite what you may have seen on your tours through the slippery world of internet porn – where ejaculation is closer to some type of bizarre, penile Super Soaker tournament than reality – the standard mean ejaculate volume for semen analysis testing is 3.7 milliliters (mL) and isn’t considered to be low unless it’s below 1.5 mL.  So normal ejaculate volume is less than a teaspoon

Lots of things can affect the appearance and volume of ejaculate – how long it’s been since your last sexual activity, level of arousal, hydration status, etc. – but it’s very rare for any of these things to be a sign of a problem.  Now, if you’re having NO ejaculation with orgasm, or pain with ejaculation, or premature ejaculation or inability to ejaculate, make sure you see your health care provider to get that checked out.   

We can’t order a semen analysis test without a valid medical indication, and unfortunately “I just want to check” doesn’t cut it.  Without a valid reason, the test won’t be covered by insurance and you’d be getting a bill for over $370.

But don’t worry about wasting your money on tests you don’t need or “male enhancers” that don’t do anything.  You wanna “enhance” your sexual health and happiness?  Stop by the Student Health Center pharmacy and pick up a box of condoms for $1.50 – believe me, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

STD Awareness – How many shots have you had??

Men's Services

My belly hurts!

Get your vaccination

Often when we talk about STDs, the focus is on symptoms and tests, but vaccines also play a big role in preventing two types of STD’s:

  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – a virus that can cause a chronic liver infection

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – a virus that can cause genital warts

Both of these viruses can be spread through sexual activity, as well as other routes – HBV through blood and body fluids; HPV through skin to skin contact.  Both can be spread by people with little or no symptoms.  And both can cause cancer.  Hepatitis B can cause liver cancer, while HPV can cause cancer of the cervix and anus, and there is increasing evidence to support a role in causing cancer in the mouth, throat and penis. 

Hepatitis B vaccine has been around for years, and has been included as a required vaccine for children in many areas so most of you have probably been vaccinated. 

HPV vaccine has been licensed since 2006 for females from 9-26 years old.  The vaccine was introduced only for women because the original research was focused on using the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer as well as warts.  More recently, the vaccine has been made available to males 9-26 years old, and research is continuing to see if the vaccine is useful for older adults. 

Vaccines prevent infections, they cannot reverse an infection you already have.  This is why it’s a good reason for adolescents to get vaccinated either before they become sexually active, or early in their sexual life.  The two current HPV vaccines cover 2-4 particular serotypes of HPV, so it’s not too late to consider it if you’ve already become sexually active; if you are already infected with one serotype, the vaccine will still be effective at preventing infection with others. 

Take a look at the STD Low-Down page at GYT for more information. 

Best of Health! 

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

What’s My Type?

Q: Do I need to know what my blood type is?

It’s funny how things run in waves around here.  I’d never been asked this question in my previous 3 years here, and then 2 people asked it on the same day.  So here goes…

Our blood type is determined by the combination of 3 different antigens that can be present on the outside of our blood cells: A, B and Rh factor.  An antigen is any substance or molecule that triggers your immune system to create an antibody against it (antibody generator).  Depending on the combination you have, your blood type will be A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ or O-.  The American Red Cross has a great website that explains what all of the combinations mean in terms of blood compatibility.

To answer the question… no, there is no real medical reason to know what your blood type is.  If you’re ever in an accident where you would need a blood transfusion, for instance, they will test your blood type right there in the emergency room.  Even if you had a copy of your test result in your pocket, they are going to re-check it because it can be done very quickly and it is just too risky to take a chance that it isn’t correct.

Same thing goes for other situations where knowing your blood type might come in handy, like seeing if you are a compatible blood or organ donor.  And blood type isn’t enough to prove or disprove paternity, so if there’s a question of baby-daddy hood going on, you’re going to need more info anyway. 

Since there’s no real medical indication to check your blood type, your insurance company probably won’t pay for it.  However, we do offer an Order-It-Yourself lab service where you can pay to have it checked without having to see a health care provider.  It’s not too expensive – swing by our lab to learn more if you’re interested.

There is another way to find out your blood type… for free!  Donate blood.  Whenever you donate blood with the Red Cross, they check your blood type.  Not only is it free, but you’ll be doing a great service to humanity AND you get free juice and cookies – that’s a pretty sweet deal.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Safer Sex is cool, isn’t it?

As college health clinicians, we have been preaching safer sex to students for years.  Are those messages getting through to students that have had HIV as part of their lives since they were born?  An 18 year old first-year student in 2011 was born:

  • 12 years after the HIV epidemic was first detected
  • 3 years after we passed the 1 million mark in persons living with AIDS/HIV globally

By the time that student reached puberty, messages about HIV prevention had become part of the standard vocabulary, using the term “safer sex”.  Knowing that all sexual activity involving more than one person always carries some risk, our efforts are meant to reduce those risks, making sex “safer”.

So, what does the typical college student in 2011 need in terms of safer sex education?  We know that risk behavior still exists, both in sexually-transmitted infections (STI) and unintended pregnancy.  Otherwise, there would be a blank screen whenever you tune into “Teen Mom” and ”16 and pregnant”. The recent increases in syphilis and HPV would not be happening, either.

Want some basic facts about preventing HIV, other STIs and pregnancy?  The GYT (Get Yourself Tested) site has a great table of links to nearly all methods of practicing safer sex, from things that work (barriers, pills, shots, rings), to things that don’t work (peeing after sex??).  Visit the PROTECT page at GYT to learn more. 

Give us your comments about what you think is the most effective messaging to use on campus, and we will take a look at your recommendations.  But be warned, walking around campus in a condom suit has already been taken off the table. 

Stay Healthy!

Roger Miller, MD

Student Health Services

The Ohio State University


How to pick the right pair of sunglasses

OSU Optometry Clinic

There’s a great story in the New York Times about how to pick the best pair of sunglasses.  There’s actually more to consider than just how cool they look.  If you don’t get the right type of sunglasses, you could actually end up putting your eyes at more risk from the harmful effects of the sun.

But looking cool is important too, and luckily you will have a chance right here on campus to check out the latest styles for the spring!

The Optometry Clinic is hosting their semi-annual Spring Fashion Frame Expo from 9-6 next Tuesday, April 12th.   

In addition to their normal selection of 2000 frames, many eyewear manufacturers (including Gucci, Sean John and LaCoste among others) will present their Spring Fashion Collections.

Featured frames will be specially priced, and there will be licensed opticians there to make sure your eyes will feel as good as you look!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Get Yourself Tested for STD Awareness

GYT - Make your appointment!

Order-It-Yourself Testing

April is National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month, and the CDC and other organizations are teaming up with MTV to sponsor GYT (Get Yourself Tested).org.  Click on this link to check out their web site. 

Do you know that Chlamydia is one of the most common STD’s that does not cause symptoms? 

Yes, Brutus, that means you can get it, have it, AND share it without knowing about it. 

GYT has opened the Chlamydia clinic, so come on in the waiting room and get educated about this disease.  Just click on their questions, and get some answers.  Symptoms or not, all sexually active women under 25 should get a Chlamydia test each year, and men should consider a yearly test, too, if they are at risk. 

Ready to get tested?  Student Health Services is one of many places where you can be tested for STD’s.  You can call us for an appointment, or, if you like, confidential STD tests are available through our OIY (Order It Yourself) program without an appointment.  If you test positive, it is essential that you be seen for appropriate counseling and treatment. 

Next week – is safer sex still cool?

Roger Miller, MD

Student Health Services

The Ohio State University