Q: Sometimes my breasts simply hurt. Is there anything to worry about or is this normal?

A: Don’t worry, but do come in for a breast exam to be sure what you’re feeling is normal. Hormonal changes from a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle can cause breast tenderness. Likewise, some medications and even caffeine may contribute to discomfort. Rarely, however, breast pain can indicate more serious problems, so you do need to come in for an examination and have a medical professional evaluate this. Student Health would be happy to help you with this, and there is no visit charge for students covered by UC SHIP insurance.


Q: For those of us with only a bike and limited cash, where is the closest-to-campus locale to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? And what are the most important STIs to get tested for?

A: Our own UCSB Student Health is the place to go! Located right on the Isla Vista edge of campus, we offer routine STI testing without any appointment needed. Just come to the lobby by 4 p.m. on any weekday, fill out the form (at the information kiosk) and go directly to the lab in the Silver hallway. If you have symptoms, a known exposure to an STI or would like to talk with a clinician, please come to the appointment desk and you will be directed to the Advice Nurse or Urgent Care.

The two most common STIs — chlamydia and gonorrhea — require only a urine sample. Tests for HIV and syphilis require a small blood sample. Cost is minimal and can be billed confidentially to your BARC account; for students with UC SHIP insurance, it’s two dollars or less per test. Tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia are generally accurate within two weeks of exposure. The test for syphilis is generally accurate within six weeks of exposure and HIV tests are accurate after no later than three to six months of exposure.


Q: Which birth control option would you most recommend for a college-aged female? I’m looking for something effective yet low maintenance.

A: Women today have many choices to meet their individual needs, including daily pills, monthly vaginal rings and implantable long-term devices. Condoms are always important to protect from infections but are not enough on their own to provide reliable pregnancy prevention. If you’re having trouble choosing the best birth control for yourself, I suggest attending the program “Your Ovaries, Your Choice: Picking Birth Control That’s Right for You” on Oct. 17 from 5-7 p.m. in the Women’s Center Conference Room (http://wgse.sa.ucsb.edu/Women/) to learn more about your many options. All of said birth control options are available at Student Health and are covered by health insurance without any copayments this year!


Q: Spending all day staring at PowerPoint lecture slides strains my eyes, especially when I’m wearing my contacts. How can I protect my eyes without missing out on my professors’ beautifully crafted presentations?

A: When we are “staring” or concentrating, we tend to forget to blink, which can make many people experience eye strain. This is also very common when reading or working on the computer. On the average, your eyes should be blinking every three to four seconds.  If you end up with a stare and are not blinking, the eyes and the contacts will get dry. The dryness will cause blurry vision and red, irritated eyes.

A simple fix for this problem is to blink more often, and use artificial tears or contact lens rewetting drops to keep your eyes and the contacts moist. Avoid using eye drops that “takes the redness out” because this only constricts the blood vessels on the surface of the eye and do not help with the dryness.


Other issues that may cause eye strain are:

·        Inadequate vision correction with your contacts lenses. This can be caused by an outdated contact lens prescription, poorly fitting contacts or contacts that are not properly cleaned.


·        Eye surface diseases can cause the eyes to be abnormally dry or irritated, especially

when wearing contacts.

·        Binocular vision problems, where the two eyes are not working well together as a team, which can cause more eye fatigue, eye strain and even headaches.


For any eye concerns, students at UCSB can consult licensed optometrists in the Student Health Eye Care Center at (805) 893-3170. All students with UC SHIP insurance have coverage for both medical visits (no charge) and routine eye exams ($10 copay) as well as $120 per year for glasses or contacts allowance. This insurance can also be used for outside providers.


Docs up this week are Student Health Director Mary Ferris, M.D. and Student Health Eye Care Center Director Taka Nomura, O.D.


Decide you suddenly have all of these problems and need to see a doc? Student health appointments can be made by calling (805) 893-3371 or booking online throught the Gateway at http://studenthealth.sa.ucsb.edu


Got mysterious bumps down there? Turn into a human gas station after Freebirds (extra queso, por favor)? When in doubt, send your cheek-reddening, juicily personal medical questions to the docs of “The Doc Is In” by emailing opinion@dailynexus.com. Anonymity is always respected.