OSU Researcher gets Savage about HPV and throat cancer!

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a journalist and advocate for LGBT rights who writes a syndicated relationship and sex advice column called Savage Love.  Last year, he started the internet-based It Gets Better project, whose goal is to prevent suicide among LGBT youth by having gay adults convey the message that these teens’ lives will improve.  He’s gotten multiple celebriteis to post a video message, including President Barack Obama.

Dan came to Ohio State in October where he he met Dr. Theodoros Teknos, Director of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery at the Arther G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.  They struck up a conversation about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – it’s relationship to oral sex and throat cancer risk, the vaccines that are available to prevent it, and what you need to know to keep yourself healthy.  

Dan interviewed Dr. Teknos for this week’s installment of his podcast, Savage Love Episode 270.  You should check it out; not only is the talk with Dr. Teknos really good but later on, Dan checks in with a gay college student who is dealing with coming out, suicide attempts, and being cut off by his family.

Just to warn you, Dan’s podcasts and columns are based on two main ingredients – his political views, and very frank discussions of sexuality in all of its varied forms.  They can be pretty strong and may not be to your taste.  But even if you don’t agree with everything he says, you can still learn something from the guy.  After all, he figured out that the best students and researchers in the world are right here at THE Ohio State University, so he’s got to be pretty smart, right?

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

So Do I Need a Pap Test or what?


So what’s the deal with the annual gyn (“female”) exam?  Is this the same thing as a Pap test?  When do I have to start having them?  My mom says I should get one every year starting at age 18, but now my friends are telling me I don’t need one until I’m 21.  I’ve never even had sex, so do I need one at all?

These are great questions.  For something as simple as an “annual” exam – just get one every year, right? – it is an awfully confusing topic.  So let’s set the record straight.

A Pap test and the annual gyn visit are actually two different things.

A Pap test (also called a Pap smear) is a specific test that is done to screen for cervical cancer by looking for changes in the cells of your cervix.  It is often a part of the annual gyn exam, but not always. 

The annual gyn exam describes the yearly visit with your women’s health care provider in which she assesses your overall general health, female health specifically (she’ll ask you questions about periods, urinary and vaginal symptoms, breast concerns), and sexual practices.  The actual physical examination portion of the visit (usually referred to as a “pelvic exam“) includes physical examination of the vulva, vagina, uterus and ovaries, as well as the thyroid (a gland in your neck), breasts and abdomen. 

The recommendation for when a woman should receive her first Pap test has changed to age 21.  In addition, nearly every woman age 21 and older needs an annual gyn exam, regardless of whether a Pap test is done or not.  If you are younger than 21, the pelvic exam portion of the annual gyn exam may or may not be done, depending on your sexual history.  Annual testing for Chlamydia is also recommended for all sexually active women up to age 25; this is done as part of the pelvic exam. 

The OSU Comprehensive Student Health Insurance covers the annual exam once a year.  If you have other insurance, please check with your insurance company to see if they will cover the annual exam here.

The clinical staff at Ohio State Student Health Women’s Services is here to take care of all of your women’s health needs.  Come in and see us any time.

Beth Askue, MS, CNP
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

He nos whn u r slepn




Since 2008, sleep medicine doctors have been reporting a new phenomenon in their practices.  For years, sleep talking and sleep walking have been well-known.  More recently, reports of eating and having sex while sleeping have also been documented.   Now, patients are reporting episodes of sending texts and even pictures during the night via their smartphones, with no recollection of the event the next morning.  An excellent article from our own intrepid reporter from the Lantern, Stephanie Kariuki, tells about some OSU students who have themselves experienced sending a text they do not remember. 

This makes me wonder about the invasion of this technology into our lives 24/7.  20 years ago, the only people carrying pagers 24 hours a day were those who might serve a critical need at any time, day or night.  Now, we nearly all have the capacity to be “available” even while asleep.  But think about the value of those communications.  Do you need to wake up at 3AM to read about your best friend’s neighbor’s break-up with their boyfriend?  Maybe your cousin had a bit too much to drink, and his friend texts you a picture of the less than pretty results? 

We know that the quality of your sleep is reduced when the sleep is interrupted.  Sleep experts suggest that you either turn off your phone or silence it for text messages during the night.  Not only will you avoid being awakened, but it could help prevent you from sending an embarrassing text in response. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping, come in and see us – we can help. 


Roger Miller, MD  (OSU Student Health Services)

10 Ways to Save Money on Birth Control


I just came across a very good article in Women’s Health called “10 Wayst to Save on Your Birth Control.”  (Yes, I was reading Women’s Health.  It was research, OK.  My wife left it next to my Sports Illustrated and I picked it up by accident…)

Anyway, the article is especially timely because we’re coming up on the end of the year and that means prescription benefits are starting to run out.  We often see students this time of year faced with the frustrating situation of needing just a few weeks of pills but being told that they need to pay out of pocket for a full month’s worth.  Some of the tips in this article might help.

No need for me to rewrite the article, but I would add a couple of things. 

They recommend bargain hunting on online pharmacies.  I would just warn you that buying medicine online is a very risky proposition – sometimes you are not getting what you pay for and in the case of birth control, the results can be disastrous.  If you go online, make sure the site is linked to a real pharmacy that you can actually call or go into, and never buy medicine that they are willing to sell you without a prescription.  Better yet, just come in to our pharmacy to make sure you are getting the real deal from someone who can answer all of your questions.

They make a good point about condoms being a cheaper birth control option depending on how frequently you have sex, but many women take birth control pills for reasons besides preventing pregnancy.  If that’s you, be sure to talk to your women’s health care provider before stopping them.

Another option not mentioned in the article, and one that the we do right here at the Student Health Center, is Implanon.  The wonderful clinical staff in our Women’s Services Department can help you decide which birth control option is right for you, including letting you know which one is the easiest on your purse!  

Now, back to my research.  Oooohhh… 6 weeks to my leanest, hottest body ever! 

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

Finals Week ALREADY?!?

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My belly hurts!


The quarter flew by, and you have crammed all weekend for your exams.  Here are some tips for preparing your mind and body for a successful wrap-up of your courses.

  • Rest – Tough to do, when you are convinced that another hour staring at your calculus notes will make the difference, but getting a normal night’s sleep (6-8 hours) helps you avoid fatigue and drowsiness during your exam, and helps your brain assemble information more effectively.
  • Eat – Substitute complex carbs for high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks on the morning of the exam.  This helps you maintain a steady blood sugar level rather than dealing with peaks and valleys in your brain’s most important nutrient.
  • Relax – Give yourself an opportunity to chill, especially if your best friend is spazing about their exams – don’t let their nervousness infect you. 
  • DO your #1 and #2 – Look, you may have had some extra coffee or caffeinated soda the last couple days, and your eating may have been irregular. If you ignore getting a good mix of fiber and hydration, then it’s not surprising that things aren’t “moving” quite the ways they do normally. Try some apple juice as a natural stool softener, and go to the restroom.  It’s a good place to meditate, too.
  • No Rec Drugs – Some recreational drugs dull your mental functions even after the immediate highs have worn off.  Other prescription drugs are thought to be performance-enhancing for exams, but should never be used by anyone without a prescription, as there are known dangers in these drugs, as well.  A seizure or heart rhythm problem can be pretty disruptive to your exam.
  • Think “Winning” Thoughts – Okay, not the delusional Charlie Sheen-type ones, but give yourself a boost of confidence walking into the exam.  Remember, you are one smart Buckeye!

Good Luck this week!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)