We’ve heard from you and we know times are tough right now. And yes, while desperate times call for desperate measures, practicing unsafe sex is just too desperate. Even though the world may feel like it is ending, it is not, and you still have a responsibility to yourself to keep YOU safe.
What are the risks right now?
First of all now is not the time for a new sexual partner, regardless of how much Chad on the app is begging you to break social distancing measures for a steamy 90 seconds. In fact, you put yourself and your entire community in danger.
Right now in this pandemic, the safest sex partner is actually yourself (it can be more fun than it sounds) unless you live with a romantic partner and are social distancing together until this is over. Currently, breaking social distancing rules can come with more than just an STI (ugh COVID-19, you can leave now). Even then, we at Diem want to remind you the importance of safe sex not only preventing pregnancy but sexually transmitted infections. Condoms and dental dams are always essential, even in long term relationships to prevent STIs. Did you know that the most common STI, the human papilloma virus (HPV), is not normally tested in routine sexual health screening? Certain HPV strains, like 16 and 18 can lead to cervical and oropharyngeal cancer if the virus sticks around long enough (more on this later).
Understanding the heavy hitters…
Becoming fluid bonded (having an unprotected sexual relationship with a partner(s)) not only comes with responsibility...but the sharing of a LOT of microorganisms (read: bugs). We THINK we know about STIs after having a four-foot vagina illustration projected onto a white wall in grade 6 while our science teacher explains what should NOT go into it and what might come out of it once a month. The words chlamydia and gonorrhoea are about as taboo as Voldemort, but what the heck are they actually?
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea (C & G) are both bacterial infections that are transmitted from one partner to another through sexual activity. YES, this can include genital to genital contact and oral/anal sex too.
The important thing to know is that someone infected with either/both of these infections may be asymptomatic, meaning they aren’t experiencing any changes in their health that would alert them to being infectious.
Importantly, C & G can also cause similar signs and symptoms and require a test to differentiate between the two. These uncomfortable symptoms may include pain with urination, abnormal discharge from vagina or rectum, and bleeding or pain from the rectum.
Also, generalized rectal itching, discomfort and soreness and heavier periods can be a sign of these infections. You can also have a cough, sore throat, or red eyes (yes it can get in your peepers).
FYI: if you are with a male partner and they complain of weird scrotal swelling, abnormal discharge from their rectum, or experience pain while ejaculating, it is imperative that they seek medical attention. If you experience any of the symptoms above, put a stop to sexual activity until you can speak with your doctor and receive STI testing.
THERE IS GOOD NEWS
Both C & G can be tested in the following ways: a swab into your vagina or rectum, a blood test, or a simple urine test (yes it really is that easy to know what is going on in your body).
MORE GOOD NEWS
As long as you remain on top of your health (no pun intended), these infections are treatable with antibiotics. At times, these infections can be resistant to traditional treatment, so follow-up with your doc is essential to making sure this infection does go away.
THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS
Persistent and untreated C & G can wreak serious havoc on your health. Notably, these infections can lead to a nasty complication called pelvic inflammatory disease which is a medical emergency, risking permanent damage to your reproductive organs (signs of this unfortunate situation include fever, feeling overall unwell, severe pain in your pelvic area, and vaginal bleeding beyond your normal period). Other complications include ectopic pregnancy (a fertilized egg somewhere it DOESN’T BELONG), increased risk of getting other STIs, infertility, transmission to a newborn, and oddly enough… a specific type of arthritis.
SOME GOOD NEWS AGAIN: there are ways to limit your risk of infection. AS WE DISCUSSED, condoms and other barrier methods are ESSENTIAL to preventing transmission. Additionally, please don’t use intense feminine hygiene products such as douches, your vagina is a SELF CLEANING MACHINE and does not require that summer breeze scent to keep things normal. Keep up the great work with getting regularly tested for STIs (and if you aren’t on this bandwagon, jump on it now).
Lastly, we at Diem do NOT judge your practices as long as they’re safe, but it is important to know that the more sexual partners you have, you are increasing your risk of STIs (it is just a numbers game).
'Till next time.