While most television shows and movies include casual sexual encounters, rarely are the lovers (and I use that term loosely) shown getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, for short).

Some consequences of uncommitted sex make it to the big screen.  Unexpected pregnancies have become an expected plot twist, thanks to movies like Juno and Knocked Up that center on the concept of an ill-timed conception.  The emotional drama after a relationship turns sexual or a sexual relationship ends makes for interesting viewing (think 500 Days of Summer, Friends with Benefits, or Vanilla Sky). But STDs seem to be the unspoken, unexpected consequence.

It’s not that surprising.  Unplanned pregnancy leads to a little person who’s quite easy to love, after the initial shock wears off.  Emotional drama is related to the bonding that occurs when neurochemicals are released during sex.  This bonding process heightens the excitement.

But STDs don’t have any positives to weigh against their negatives. They’re not cute – or sexy.  Talking about them won’t make you the life of the party.

Having sex with multiple partners will likely result in a sexually transmitted disease.  Consider the odds – each new partner exposes you to whatever STDs or infections their partners may have had – and to what their partners were exposed to, and so on.  One random hook up may expose you to the infections of more partners than you can or care to count.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls the all-time highest spike in reported cases of syphilis, chlamydia, and Gonorrhea “alarming.”  According to the CDC, more than 1.5 million cases were reported in 2015, a 6% increase from 2014.  Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the highest reported STDs among young people aged 15-24.  Those are the reported cases. Many cases are untested and unreported.

Although these diseases affect both men and women, women face the most serious health consequences.  Your sexual health matters not only for your overall wellness, but also for your future fertility.  Undiagnosed STDs causes more than 20,000 cases of infertility each year.  If you are sexually active and have new or multiple partners you should be tested annually.  If you are pregnant, it is especially important to be tested for gonorrhea early in your pregnancy.  Untreated gonorrhea may cause miscarriage or premature birth, and may be passed from mother to newborn baby during vaginal delivery.

At Lighthouse, we offer free screening for chlamydia and Gonorrhea.  If you do have a positive test result for an STD, it is important for you to tell your partner and for both of you to be treated.  If you or your partner has an untreated STD, you can pass it back and forth to each other during sex or transmit it to others in the future.

Health officials recommend using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted diseases, but even when used correctly they don’t work 100% of the time – especially for an infection like HPV (the Human Papilloma Virus) that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact.  Plus, condoms don’t protect you from the broken heart which may result from your casual encounter.

Limiting yourself to one partner for life is the only sure-fire way to avoid the un-sexy side of sex.  Commitment is good for your emotional and physical well-being.  In the end, nothing is sexier (or healthier) than committed love.   # # #