I’m not one of those people who get queasy and faint or barf at the sight of a needle. It’s not like I’m into intravenous drugs, but I don’t particularly mind giving blood or getting shots. Nevertheless, I do get squeamish when it’s the time of year to stick my feet in stirrups and let my doctor poke, prod, and examine my most precious of body parts. Testing for sexually transmitted infections is always a nerve-wracking experience, especially for all you feisty little devils out there getting busy with multiple partners. However, while fearing your test results is completely understandable, continuing to hump without the knowledge of what you may or may not carry is unacceptable. Plus, the relief of knowing that you’re STI-free is definitely worth sitting through an exam.

In terms of the physical exam, men have it easier than women. A little pee, a little blood sample, a swab and you’re on your way. I’m not trying to trivialize the fear of not knowing if an infection has infested your body, but unless you have an ice-cold speculum jammed up your punany as it is slowly screwed open, then you have it good. However, the anxiety of an impending test or results is equally stressful for guys and girls alike.

Fear about testing for infections manifests itself differently in everyone. In addition to feeling averse to having metal speculums shoved up my vagina, fear has caused me to become a slight hypochondriac when it comes to my sexual health. I basically convince myself I have an STI and run to Student Health every time I have sex, which is most often protected through various means of contraception. For others, fear of the unknown drives them away from Student Health. If you have an STI, there is no changing that fact. The best thing you can do is suck it up and deal with the consequences. Untreated, many infections can lead to serious health complications and very unattractive genitals – think the cauliflower penis picture we all saw in sex education.

For all my ladies out there – get the human papillomavirus vaccine! Marketed under the name Gardasil, the vaccine protects against four common types of HPV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the human papillomavirus is the number one cause of cervical cancer in women. The fact that this vaccine exists and can help prevent something so totally terrible is amazing. The vaccine, which comes in the form of three shots, is pricey but extremely worth it if you consider your sexual health to be at stake. Plus, in addition to causing cervical cancer, some types of HPV also cause external genital warts – which can put a serious damper on sexy time.

The matter of testing also wedges its way into relationships, usually when things become monogamous, or at least when condom usage is about to become ancient history. If someone wants to do it without a condom and refuses to get tested, refusing is the only solution. Condom availability and alcohol presents complications as well. If someone is drunk or just super horny and wants to get laid, they may lie to get what they want if there is no protection on hand. Do not trust the answer of someone you don’t know. You may wind up with gonorrhea and some serious spunky funk from that girl who swore up and down she was clean – and ended up hooking up with three guys after you at that party. If you’re having sex, keep a box of condoms accessible from your bed and eliminate the possibility of not using one.

This is Isla Vista. We party, booze it up, do drugs and generally live life recklessly like we won’t be around to suffer the inevitable consequences. Sexually transmitted infections are a preventable danger in our already irresponsible ways of life. Conquer your fear, bite the bullet and get tested. Either way, it’s better to know for yourself and the people you sleep with. Stay protected and give it your all to get out of the so-called cesspool of I.V. STI-free after four or more years.