February is National Condom Month! Celebrate safely by using condoms and getting screened for STIs. Taking care of your sexual health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself no matter your gender.

All About Condoms

Condoms are one of the most common and widely known ways to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy and STI’s. According to WSU’s 2018 College Student Health Survey, birth control pills were the most common form of pregnancy prevention with condoms being the second most common.

Other forms of birth control such as the shot and the IUD protect you from unwanted pregnancy, but only internal or external condoms can protect you from chlamydia, HIV, and gonorrhea.

According to plannedparenthood.org, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. Condoms can be used for any kind of sex whether it be oral, vaginal, or anal. Condoms are provided in Health and Wellness Services in IWC 222 and are also free in the Well (IWC 138).

According to WSU’s 2018 College Student Health Survey, condoms were used the least during oral sex and used the most during vaginal intercourse. The same study shows that there has been a decrease in condom use during vaginal intercourse by 11.7% in the three years leading up to the 2018 study.

There are condoms for both people with penises and people with vaginas, but they should never be worn together. Doubling up on condoms doesn’t make sex “safer” and only one condom will suffice. The most common type of condom contains latex, but if you have a latex allergy, latex free options are available.


STI stands for sexually transmitted infection that can be transmitted after a form of unprotected sexual activity with a partner. According to cdc.org, over half of the 20 million sexually transmitted infections diagnosed each year are people between the ages of 15 to 24.

Common STI’s diagnosed and treated at Winona State University include chlamydia, herpes, HPV, and gonorrhea. According to cdc.org, sometimes symptoms of an STI doesn’t show up for weeks, months or at all and if symptoms are ignored, it can be dangerous for your personal health as well as your sexual partner’s health.

How Do I Know if I Have an STI?

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and HPV are the most common STIs, and thankfully they can be cured or treated. In fact, over 65% of people have herpes simplex virus type 1 – many of which have no symptoms. Getting tested at least every year and after a new partner is a good way to ensure that you are safe, healthy & STI-free.

According to the WSU 2018 College Student Health Survey, 9.3% of students have reported having at least one STI and there was a 72.5% increase of cases of chlamydia within the three years before the study was published.

Chlamydia: Most people don’t experience symptoms, but people with vaginas can experience abnormal discharge, abdominal pain, and pain or bleeding during sex or between periods. All people can also experience itchy or burning feeling genitals or pain while urinating.

Herpes: There is no cure for herpes, but there are medications that manage the symptoms such as blisters and sores around genitals.

HPV: HPV stands for human papillomavirus and often there are no symptoms, and the virus clears on its own, but sometimes symptoms include genital warts, and this virus can lead to cancers. It is important to get regular pap smears for those with vaginas, as pap smears can screen for cervical cancer. Gardasil, an HPV vaccine is also available at Health & Wellness Services for extra protection against the virus.

Gonorrhea: Many people do not experience symptoms, but those who do might find abnormal discharge, pain and difficulty peeing, people with penises could have swollen testicles and people with vaginas could experience bleeding between periods.

What To Do?

Getting tested regularly is one of the best ways to stay healthy, and if you happen to contract an STI, it can be treated or monitored right away.

  • Wear a condom during sex whether it be oral, vaginal, or anal.
  • Get tested once a year as well as whenever you have sex with a new partner.
  • Watch out for signs and symptoms of an STI and act on it immediately.
  • Contact a medical professional when something seems different, painful, or uncomfortable.


WSU Resources

WSU Health and Wellness Services has many resources to keep you safe and healthy such as women’s health checks and exams, contraception management and more. STI tests are available by appointment by calling 507-457-5160 to make an appointment. You can also call the confidential and free Ask-A-Nurse line at 507-457-2292 if you have questions or concerns.