It astonishing to me that in 2019 many people do not use protection when engaging in sexual activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 marked the fourth year in a row that there has been a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI). It is safe to bet that 2018 continued this scary trend. This rise is perhaps due to the rise in popularity of “casual sex” and the advent of “hook-up apps.” So it’s really important for you to understand the difference between safe sex and safer sex.
The Rise of the STI
I would like to share with you some troubling statistics. Since 2013, syphilis diagnoses has risen 76%! Gonorrhea diagnoses has increased 67% since 2013! Year after year sexually transmitted infections (STI) continue to rise. Even more troubling is that the rise in diagnoses is impacting a younger demographic. In 2017, 45% of those diagnosed with chlamydia were between the ages of 15 and 24. This is a serious epidemic. In the future I plan on writing an article on how we can help stop the rise of STIs, because we are truly moving backwards and I know that together we can make a serious difference! But for now, it is important that you understand STIs and get informed about what safe sex is all about.
The Difference Between STI and STD
There isn’t one. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is the same as a sexually transmitted infection. So why the name change? Two reasons really. First, the word disease carries a greater stigma than the word infection. It is often important to reduce social stigmas so that more people are willing to seek help and receive treatment. The second reason is that many of the viruses that are spread have little to no signs or symptoms, so the infection never becomes an actual disease. And sadly, a person with an infection may not receive any treatment sometimes leading to serious complications later on.
The good news is that for some STIs there are treatments available. Not for all but for some. The point is, just because you have an STI, your life is not over. There may be a treatment available for you. It is important that it is diagnosed and treated early on though.
What Is Safe Sex
Many people have heard the term “safe sex.” It has become synonymous with using a condom. However, this is really not an accurate term to describe condom us. Theoretically, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. Yet, as Planned Parenthood noted that in practice, they are only 85% effective in preventing pregnancy. The same is true with STIs, no condom is effective 100% of the time!
The practice of safe sex is actually no sex. Or masturbation! Masturbation is a great alternative to help you relieve sexual tension and stress. Of course, you don’t simply have to rely on your hands either! Be sure to check out our recent article The Truth About Sex Toys. And for those who want to have their partner stimulate them from time to time, you can always have them use the sex toy on you!
What Is Safer Sex
I recommend that everyone who is sexually active to be tested regularly. Even if you are having sex with the same partner. You would not believe the number of people who have had sex with only one person and yet end up with a STI simply because their partner had it and was unaware. Or in some extremely cases because their partner is having multiple ongoing sexual relationships without their knowledge.
My second recommendation is that you always engage in safer sex practices when having sexual relations. This means that anytime there is a penis going into any type of orifice – mouth, vagina, or anus– you should use a condom. If you are worried about the cost of condoms, there are many places in the United States where you can get them for free, including your local health department. If you would like to find condoms near you, simply click here.