Five tests you MUST take in college . . . and no need to even study

(U-WIRE) College and tests seem to go together like textbooks and hefty prices. Throughout your academic career you’ll no doubt take a countless number of tests, but how many of them could actually save your life?

Some neglected medical tests are potentially life-altering. While several medical exams aren’t needed at this stage in our lives (yay! no colonoscopies yet!), several exams are recommended for college students.

STI Test

While those Axe commercials may want you to believe their product is “How dirty boys get clean,” no amount of that shower gel is going to wash away a possible STI after a questionable one night stand.

STI (sexually transmitted infection) is the new name for STD (sexually transmitted disease). According to the American Social Health Association’s Web site, the name change was prompted because the word disease implied obvious symptoms when in reality many STIs don’t have obvious symptoms.

The lack of obvious symptoms is one reason why many students don’t feel they need to be tested. In reality, one in five people in the United States has an STI.

STI testing services are available throughout Tallahassee, and FSU students can visit Thagard Student Health Center for testing. There are several different STIs, and testing can look for multiple STIs simultaneously.

For guys, the testing is conducted through the general clinic and usually requires a blood or urine sample. The urine test results can be available in 20 to 30 minutes.

While the urine test is available for females, it is not as accurate. STI testing for females is conducted through Thagard’s Women’s Clinic and pelvic exams, blood testing or pap smears can be used depending upon what is being tested for. Result times can range anywhere from a couple of moments to a couple of days. All results are confidential and available only to the patient.

Want to avoid having to deal with STI’s or STI testing? Practice safe sex — use a condom, know your partner’s sexual history or don’t have sex at all.

Gynecological Exam

There are many perks to being a girl, but having an annual gynecological exam is not one of them. However awkward it may seem, it is necessary to help prevent illness (such as cancer) and to look for other abnormalities.

According to Planned Parenthood’s Web site, 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and women who do not have regular gynecological care are seven times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The Thagard Women’s Clinic is trying to take the awkwardness out of the visit and help educate about the importance of testing and prevention.

“We try and make the testing as painless as possible and we try to explain what is happening to make you feel more comfortable,” Director of Nursing for the Thagard Women’s Clinic Candace Wells said. “We take a little extra time with patients, especially if it is their first exam.”

It is recommended that a woman go for a “GYN” visit starting in her teens, even if she is not sexually active. A pap smear may not be necessary until three years after a woman becomes sexually active or when she turns 21.

If you’re interested in birth control or STI testing, the clinic can help you with those needs as well during your visit.

Blood Pressure and Body Mass Index

It is recommended that all adults have their blood pressure and their weight measured every couple of years to detect any risk that could become a problem area.

“I think the most important thing is to sit down with your doctor and assess your risk,” Patient’s First physician Cyneetha Strong said. “A plan is a little bit different for each person.”

If untreated, high blood pressure can cause the heart to overwork itself, leading to a possible heart attack or stroke. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure effects one out of every three Americans or 65 million people.

Many college students have been warned about the “freshman 15,” and Strong recommends that college students develop healthy living routines now: Getting plenty of rest, eating well, exercising and avoiding risky behavior to help prevent it.

“I think that it’s never too early to start healthy living,” Strong said. “A lot of young people get away from home and live on pizza and Starbucks, which doesn’t set you up for being your healthiest.”


The American Heart Association recommends that starting at age 20 you should have your cholesterol checked every five years. If there is a family history of cholesterol problems, you may want to discuss with your doctor about getting tested even earlier.

While the body needs cholesterol for digesting dietary fats, too much can block and injure the arteries, especially the ones that lead to the heart. Excess weight, increasing age, heredity and stress can lead to high cholesterol.

According to the FDA’s Web site, “Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in this country. More than 90 million American adults, or about 50 percent, have elevated blood cholesterol levels, one of the key risk factors for heart disease.”

While many of these conditions may not pose immediate threats to a college student’s health, it is important to be tested and develop healthy lifestyle habits to help reduce future risks.

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