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Scarlet Letters: BCIT students still struggle with priorities and sex

Scarlet writes about sex and relationships. Have a burning question? Email!


Dear Scarlet,

It’s intimating to go to my doctor to ask if I have a STI. Are there a few ways to self-diagnose? When do I need to go to the doctor for sure?

— Scared out of my Mind


Dearest SOOMM,

SOMM, you bring up a good point. For as much as I stress getting regularly checked, it can be challenging for many people to get up the courage to go for testing. The tricky truth is that the majority of people with a sexual disease or an infection exhibit absolutely no symptoms, and even if they are examined, it may take time to diagnose the issue.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) carriers quite often pass on the virus without even knowing they’ve done so. They are currently incurable (despite recent developments in treatments), and can cause more health complications over time.

That being said, there are many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are quite easy to spot.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomonas give telltale signs of infection. Women may experience an increase or change in discharge, bleeding during vaginal sex, or lower abdominal pain if infected.  Men however, often display symptoms such as burning or itching, painful urination, unusual discharge or testicular discomfort.

At the end of the day, it’s important to respect yourself and your partners by getting regularly tested even if you are having protected sex. Making the choice to live with the discomfort of an infection or the fear of not knowing should overpower the fear of getting tested or treated, but it is a choice, and it is yours to make.

— Scarlet


Dear Scarlet,

I am still maintaining an awkward friendship with my ex, but all my girls are telling me how much of a bastard he was and that he doesn’t deserve my time. I’m tired of “listening to my heart” because I seriously don’t have time for that (as a full-time BCIT student). Can you give me some down-to-earth advice on how to deal with exes?

— Way too Busy


Hey WTB,

I’m going to be frank with you—the real question you need to start asking yourself is whether or not you want to have any involvement with your ex. Friends and school aside, you alone decide your involvement, and what you’re willing to commit to when it comes to your exes.  This is one of those “listen to your heart” moments, WTB, and there’s no getting around it (no matter how many assignments you have).

I would also like to note how natural it is for your friends to have animosity towards your ex. After all, they are the ones who have had to listen to you bitch and moan about a failing relationship for goodness knows how long.  Translation: your friends are biased (with good reason) and cannot help you figure this out—they can only stir the pot and create additional stress for you.

There are very academic reasons for you to hit this issue head-on, as well: according to the UK Health and Safety Executive, stress tends to build up over time because of a combination of factors that may not all be work related, and problems outside work can affect a person’s ability to perform effectively at work. In other words, you are not doing yourself or your scholastic career any favours by avoiding this issue.

Good luck WTB. Post-relationship encounters with exes can be messy no matter how amicable the break was, and there isn’t always a right way to go about it.

— Scarlet


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