Good To Know

The end of another semester has arrived, and with it comes the last Sex & Pancakes of the year.

Before you all run off to exams and freedom, I wanted to leave you with the answers to a few common questions I’ve been receiving.

You might already know some of these, but when it comes to sexual health, I’ve found that things tend to fall between the cracks, so we can all benefit from a little repetition!

1. What’s the deal with testing?

Testing for STIs is recommended approximately every three months if you’ve had a new sexual partner or unprotected sex.

This is the typical timeline because some STIs can take time to become detectable after an infection. For example, HIV can take three to six months to show up on a blood test. However, if you’re experiencing any STI symptoms then it’s best to get tested right away.

It’s also good to know that not all standard STI testing covers everything. Sometimes they only scratch the surface by testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea along with a visual examination of your genitals for any abnormalities. It’s always good to ask what’s actually being checked if you have specific concerns, and to have a blood test to cover more bases.

You usually want to get tested between partners because it can be helpful to know when an infection happened. It’s rare that people knowingly pass on an STI, so the partner who passed it to you might not know about it and may not plan on getting tested anytime soon.

2. Do I need to get a Pap test every year?

I recommend it if you’ve got a vagina. A Pap test is a simple preventative procedure that could save you a lot of trouble by checking if you have any abnormal or precancerous cells caused by HPV—a virus that has been on the rise among young Canadians. During a Pap test, a swab sample is taken from your cervix and is sent for analysis for any irregular cells.

A Pap test is an easy but important step in cervical cancer prevention because early detection can make all the difference in the development of the virus. If you’re going annually, which is the standard recommendation, you’re more likely to detect something early.

3. How do I get the morning-after pill?

You can get emergency contraceptive at any pharmacy in Quebec without a prescription. Head to the prescription counter for a short consultation with the pharmacist and you’re good to go!

The pill can be taken within 5 days of the “incident,” but the earlier the better for effectiveness. The pill is covered by ASEQ health insurance (the CSU plan), as well as most other private plans. If you’re on a parent’s health insurance you can pay for it instead, if you’d rather keep it off the plan’s records and from your parents.

4. Where can I get free condoms?

Lots of places around the city! On campus you can stop by the 2110 Centre or Queer Concordia. Off campus you can stop by Head & Hands, AIDS Community Care Montreal or any CLSC. Most CEGEP and university health services also provide them for free but unfortunately Concordia Health Services isn’t one of them (hint hint).

Well, that’s it for this year! I’ve loved answering your questions every week, so thank you for sending them in and keep ‘em coming! Be sure to also check out the Sex & Pancakes blog to find more answers, posts and links to sexual health related stuff, as well as a handy Montreal Sexual Health Resources guide with many of the places I refer to in this column.

Good luck on exams and I hope you get your fill of sex & pancakes—the real ones of course.

STI testing & Pap tests: Concordia Health Services, Head & Hands, CLSCs
Free condoms: 2110 Centre or Queer Concordia; off campus: Head & Hands, AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM), CLSCs
For contact info and more resources at sex-pancakes.com/resources

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