Research has shown that around half of us will get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) at some time or another. If you think about it that means either you or your mate will get one (if you haven't had one already). One reason for this might be that we don't know enough about sexual health. If you're a grown man or woman you really should know what you're dealing with when it comes to having sex. STIs are common and dangerous.
This isn't about putting you off sex though. Certainly not! Here you'll find some surprising facts and. So just remember them and be safe.
15 You can catch STIs from a tanning bed
The next time you go to get your bronze on be aware that you can catch several different STIs from the tanning bed you're lying on. This includes HPV, herpes and genital warts. You can actually contract many different infections from tanning beds because bacteria and viruses thrive in the environment. A warm and moist home is created for those nasty STIs thanks to your sweat and the fluorescent lights. It's a common myth that the ultraviolet light will kill off any infections. If the bed is cleaned properly you shouldn't have a problem however.
14 Many STIs don't have symptoms
You may not have an itchy crotch or a stinging sensation when you pee but there's still a chance that you have an STI. Chlamydia, for example, has been called the “silent infection” because it sneaks up on you. You may have no symptoms and be completely unaware that the STI is there hiding in the background. This is problematic because, if left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can lead to fertility problems and problems during pregnancy. With chlamydia you also have an increased risk of contracting HIV. Not good.
13 You're more likely to catch an STI during your period
Many couples get it on during a woman's time of the month. Why go a week (or potentially two weeks for girls who date girls) without sex? But remember that you still need to stay safe during your period. Because, in fact, you're more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease when Flo is visiting. As your cervix opens up to allow blood through there's a greater chance that blood-borne STIs such as hepatitis or HIV can pass into your body. Plus the pH level of the vagina changes during a period meaning she is more likely to contract a yeast or bacterial infection.
12 Some STIs can't be cured
You're probably already aware that people with HIV can receive treatments for their symptoms but cannot, at present, be cured of the virus. What you most likely didn't know however that there are more STIs that can't yet be cured. HPV, which puts you at risk of getting warts or cancer, can't be cured. Nor can oral or genital herpes. Chronic hepatitis B and C also stays with you for life. This is pretty terrifying. But if you use protection and get regular sexual health checks then you shouldn't have a problem. Don't forget that most of us get vaccinated against HPV too.
11 Our body gets rid of some STIs by itself
This is by no means an excuse to go around having unprotected sex. But our bodies are brilliant in that they can clear up some STIs all by themselves in as little as a couple of months. For example, the body banishes hepatitis A in two to six months. A lucky one in five people with acute hep C clear the virus themselves. Lots of people who get HPV can clear the virus without treatment in a couple of years. MC (molluscum contagiosm), which you probably haven't heard of but is an STI that causes rashes, will leave of its own accord within six to eighteen months.
10 Women are more likely to get STIs than men
As if men didn't already have the upper hand, now we find this out! It's true, there are various biological reasons why women are more likely to suffer from STIs than guys. For starters, the vagina makes a better home for bacteria and viruses and its walls are thinner than the skin of the penis meaning that it's easier for STIs to penetrate. Women tend to suffer more because it's less easy to see symptoms, our bits are all neat and tidy and tucked away instead of dangling there in plain sight. Plus men spot symptoms more quickly because things like producing discharge from their member is quite unusual compared to vaginal discharge.
9 STIs cost the U.S. a lot of money
The healthcare bill for your sexual faux pas is a big one, a really big one. It is estimated that STIs cost the U.S. Health care system $17 billion per year. The CDC also reports that there are 19 million new sexually transmitted infections each year. That's a lot of money that could have been saved if people just wrapped up!
8 You can get an STI in your eye
Some people are really sensitive about their eyes i.e. the thought of anything or anyone going near their eyes makes them want to vom. So if you're one of those people, don't read this part. You can get gonorrhoea and chlamydia in your eyes from sexual fluids. Eek! It takes the form of chlamydial or gonoccal conjunctivitis. If you think you have it you need to get it checked out quick because in severe cases it can lead to blindness.
7 There's a good chance you'll get an STI at some point
Soo many people don't know enough about STIs. This list contains the more obscure facts, but there are still soo many people that don't even know the basic facts. Even if you are pretty clued up we all make mistakes. When the heat of the moment takes over pubic lice is the last thing on your mind. So, more than half of all people will get an STI at some point. And about half the people who are sexually active will get an STI by the time they are 25! So basically your chances of getting an STI are about 50/50, the toss of a coin. Those aren't promising statistics.
6 The elderly are at high risk for STIs
You would usually associate sexually transmitted diseases with the free and uninhibited youth of today. You wouldn't think about grandma getting an STI in her retirement home! But it turns out that the elderly are at a high risk category for STIs. The 2000s saw the number of people getting STIs at 50 years or over double. This might be down to the fact that the frisky old-timers don't bother with condoms because there's less risk of getting pregnant. Or maybe the use of Viagra has reignited the sex lives of elderly people who couldn't be so active previously.
5 College students think they can tell who has an STI
Over half (62%) of the college students that participated in a sex study believe that they could tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them. Aren't college students supposed to be smarter than that? They may be able to discuss prominent philosophers of the eighteenth century but they don't know squat about sexual health clearly. Because as we have mentioned many STIs show no symptoms whatsoever, including chlamydia and HPV which are some of the most common STIs you can get.
4 Most men have tried to persuade a woman to have unsafe intercourse
You would think that guys would want to avoid having a gross-looking and painful STI as much as any girl. However, a study of 21-30 year old males showed that 80% of guys have tried one tactic or another to avoid using a condom. The most commonly used tactic is assuring the girl that he's “clean” (73.7%) and the second most common tactic involves getting the lady feeling so hot and heavy that she's ready to go without a condom (73.2%).
3 You can still get an STI if you use a condom
You've probably heard that even if used absolutely correctly, condoms aren't 100% safe, sure. The actual statistic offered by manufacturers is that they're 98% safe (when used correctly and that's hella important). But you might not have known that even if you use a condom correctly you can still get some STIs. That's because HPV can be passed via close skin-to-skin contact.
2 You can get an STI by sharing stuff with your girlfriends
You don't need to have sex with somebody to catch an STI. All you need to do is share a towel with your gal pal and you could catch one. That's because viruses and bacteria thrive in such an environment. For instance, the most common STI that affects women, trichomoniasis, can live on a towel for a long time. You can also catch a viral disease by using somebody else's razor. If you get any little shaving nicks an STI could pass into your blood stream. So the moral of the story is to never use anything in somebody else's bathroom.
1 Syphilis is making a comeback
You don't often hear much about syphilis. You'd probably associate the disease with times gone by. In the U.S. this particular STI was almost obsolete at the turn of the millennium. However, in recent years syphilis seems to have reared its ugly head yet again. Between 2005 and 2013 the number of reported cases of syphilis doubled. Over 90% of people who contract the disease are men, a large proportion of which are men who sleep with other men. Although the number of cases is still relatively low, just be on the lookout fellas.