The Gift that Keeps on Giving: STD's and the Holidays
It's that time of year again. Maybe you get a nice break from work or school. There are holiday parties to look forward to and the hanging mistletoe conjures romantic visions. But did you also know that this is the time when more people acquire a Sexually Transmitted Disease? It's true. Just ask any college health clinic and you will find an increase in the numbers of students who come back from holiday break with an STD. Nina Henderson who writes for the East Tennessee State University student-run newspaper reports that: "The number of people who visit the clinic to be tested increases after holidays such as Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break."
Why is this so? It really isn't so tough to figure out. Many people go to holiday parties and where there is a party there is usually alcohol. Drinking can lead to impaired judgment about such things as using a condom for protection. And even if you do use a condom if you are drunk, you may not use it properly or even realize if it is broken. The cold weather may also contribute to staying in and engaging in "extracurricular" activities to keep warm. But in the heat of the moment things like protection from STD's may be forgotten.
What are some of the most common STD's people get over the holiday break? Nina Henderson writes that at East Tennessee State University the majority of cases seen at the student health clinic are people who have Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, and Gonorrhea.
While Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can be treated, Herpes is an STD which, once you get it, you have it forever.
If you think that using the withdrawal method (where the male pulls out before ejaculation) can protect you from an STD, you are mistaken. You can absolutely get an STD or become pregnant even if he pulls out without ejaculating. And if you think you can't get an STD through having oral sex you would be wrong about that too. STD's such as Herpes, Gonorrhea, and even HIV can be spread through oral sex.
If you still think getting an STD could never happen to you consider the following facts:
- The CDC estimates there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs each year. Roughly half of these cases are people who are 15-24 years old.
- The CDC also reports that there are approximately 2.8 million new cases of Chlamydia in the United States each year, and more than half of new cases remain undiagnosed and unreported.
- Many times an individual with an STD will have little to no symptoms and will be unaware when they pass the infection on to someone else. It is reported that 70% of women with Chlamydia and up to 50% with gonorrhea never get symptoms. You can also get herpes from someone who is not showing any visible signs of having this STD.
- STD's can affect your future ability to have a baby. It is estimated that 30 to 40% of women with untreated Chlamydia get pelvic inflammatory disease which can cause fertility issues later in life.
- Untreated Gonorrhea can also lead to infertility in both women and men as well as heighten your risk for acquiring HIV.
Is there something you can do to prevent the transmission of STD's? Yes there is. It has been said time and time again but I will say it again. The use of a latex condom during sexual activity can greatly reduce your risk for acquiring an STD. To find out more about condoms and how to use them correctly for the prevention of STD's please visit our informational page about condoms. Here is more information about condoms and dental dams for protection from STD's if you engage in oral sex.
To find out more about safe sex practices and STD prevention please visit our Safe Sex page.
I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday and remember to be safe out there Thank you for being a member of Sexual Health Connection here on Health Central!