By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
April is STD awareness month so there is no better time to remind adults of the facts about sexually transmitted diseases, and to inform teens about the facts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the U.S. according to a 2014 report. That’s more than 54,000 new cases each day, so the chances of getting infected are high. In a recent survey with Planned Parent, 95% of women surveyed rarely or never used protection during oral sex, and 58% of them had sex without the use of a condom. This is especially alarming when you take into account that these are not monogamous couples.
The importance of educating women and men to have the sex talk with their partner before sex ever begins cannot be overlooked, and it all begins with straight talk. Women surveyed were more reluctant to bring up the topic of condom use, and taking the pill or using a barrier to prevent pregnancy does nothing to protect from an STD.
According to the American Social Health Organization, one in four teens in the U.S. becomes infected with an STD each year. By the age of 25 half of all sexually active young adults will get an STD this especially scary since not all STDs can be cured.
How to prevent an STD:
* Practicing abstinence is the only sure way to prevent STDs. Don’t have sex until you are ready to deal with every possible consequence that may happen.
* Talk about sexual health with your partner before you have sex.
* Use a condom.
* Practice monogamy. This means you agree to have sex with only one person and they mutually agree to only have sex with you. If you don’t trust them, why are you sleeping with them?
* Get checked for STDs if you have any concerns. Don’t risk giving the infection to someone else.
* Don’t use alcohol or drugs before you have sex as it distorts your thinking and decreases your ability to make healthy choices.
How to stop the spread of STDs:
* If you have an STD, stop having sex until you see a doctor and are treated.
* Follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment.
* Return to your doctor to get rechecked and don’t resume sex until you are cleared of your STD.
* Be sure your sex partner or partners are notified and get treatment.
* Always insist and be adamant that your health is first and listen to your doctor instead of your partner.
If you are concerned about having an STD, the best thing you can do for your health is to ask your healthcare provider for an STD screening. It may be embarrassing but it may also save your life. Many STDs can be easily diagnosed and treated. If either you or your partner is affected, you will both have to be treated at the same time to prevent getting re-infected. Your health must never take second place to your feelings of embarrassment or fear of losing your partner.
Please review this site for more information about STDs:
– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at maryjorapini.com.