Scared of Swine Flu? What About STIs?

someecards swine flu and stds2

 

“You seem pretty scared of catching swine flu for someone who’s not remotely scared of catching STDs.”

Oh, the genius of this someecard – especially for someone like me who teaches on a college campus. As you likely know, the rate of STIs among 15-24 year olds is particularly high in the United States (and far higher than in European countries that offer more comprehensive sexuality education). Some students forgo condoms as soon as they both test negative for STIs which is not necessarily a good idea given that men cannot be tested for HPV and many women don’t get tested for everything they should be getting tested for – and most don’t even know it. Then there’s pregnancy. Having worked in family planning clinics and performed my fair share of pregnancy tests, it’s tough to see how many people thought that they were avoiding pregnancy but were not successful in doing so because they didn’t use their birth control correctly.

Want to reduce your risk of infection? Limit your number of partners and, if having sex, use a condom the entire time that you have sex so as to reduce your risk of some but not all STIs.

Want to reduce your risk of pregnancy? Again, condoms are a highly effective tool. If you’re going without condoms and you or your is on birth control, consider withdrawal as an extra measure of protection. So many women don’t take their birth control pill correctly or they mis-use NuvaRing – and they don’t even know it.

Oh and to help reduce the spread of Swine Flu (not an STI)? Wash your hands frequently. Stay home from school or work if you feel ill (and call your healthcare provider). Steer clear of possibly infected friends or co-workers.

To learn more about H1N1 (Swine Flu) visit the CDC’s web site where you can also learn about STIs. And to help improve the quality of adolescent sexual health information and education world wide, visit Advocates for Youth.

[Someecards]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • http://stockingsaddict.blogspot.com/ Treacle

    I didn’t know there wasn’t a way to test men for HPV. Thank you.

  • http://stockingsaddict.blogspot.com Treacle

    I didn’t know there wasn’t a way to test men for HPV. Thank you.

  • Debby

    Yes, most people don’t realize this and so they think they or a partner has been tested for “everything”. In fact, we cannot test for “everything”. Most clinics/docs don’t recommend routine herpes testing and we have no good, reliable HPV test for men (hence its far reach).

    The good news, of course, is that STIs don’t have to be the end of good sex. They are something that I think more of us need to take responsibility for with conversations, testing and treatment but some can be cured and most can be lived with. And of course – STI or not – one can continue to have pleasurable sex and relationships.

  • Debby

    Yes, most people don’t realize this and so they think they or a partner has been tested for “everything”. In fact, we cannot test for “everything”. Most clinics/docs don’t recommend routine herpes testing and we have no good, reliable HPV test for men (hence its far reach).

    The good news, of course, is that STIs don’t have to be the end of good sex. They are something that I think more of us need to take responsibility for with conversations, testing and treatment but some can be cured and most can be lived with. And of course – STI or not – one can continue to have pleasurable sex and relationships.

  • AT

    I feel as if I have been so warned/scared about STDs that I now believe having sex and enjoying it = getting a STD. I think of them as the end all of my sexual health. Have you come across this in your research?

    I am in a serious relationship with someone who is much more relax in terms of enjoying sex (experimenting, and having it more frequently). I think its in part because he is European and had a different upbringing in terms of not being exposed to American SexEd that had a moral backdrop.

    He is also someone who had many more partners than me and I think that to me is a flag for STDs. In the early stages of our relationship when we were not officially together, he talked about his previous sexual partners. He no longer does this but I think in my mind because he had many more partners than I, I fear he has a STD although he assures me he has been tested. Now when I have sex, i see myself getting tense which leads to pain and fear of pain. Any recommendations besides 'relax?'

    I am getting an exam this month and will encourage him to get re-tested as well–but I fear that me asking him to get tested again, may suggest to him that I don't trust him…. I feel as if I have been so warned/scared about STDs that I now believe having sex and enjoying it = getting a STD. I think of them as the end all of my sexual health. Have you come across this in your research?

    I am in a serious relationship with someone who is much more relax in terms of enjoying sex (experimenting, and having it more frequently). I think its in part because he is European and had a different upbringing in terms of not being exposed to American SexEd that had a moral backdrop.

    He is also someone who had many more partners than me and I think that to me is a flag for STDs. In the early stages of our relationship when we were not officially together, he talked about his previous sexual partners. He no longer does this but I think in my mind because he had many more partners than I, I fear he has a STD although he assures me he has been tested. Now when I have sex, i see myself getting tense which leads to pain and fear of pain. Any recommendations besides 'relax?'

    I am getting an exam this month and will encourage him to get re-tested as well–but I fear that me asking him to get tested again, may suggest to him that I don't trust him….