COVID Consequences Part I: Upsurge In STI's As We Mingle More!


The original title of this article was supposed to be Post-pandemic surge of STIs with a return to life without restrictions.

Obviously, this scenario has changed drastically with all states showing a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. These new cases are being attributed to the unvaccinated and younger generations. We also cannot overlook rebound infections and whether or not we are a carrier. That is one test I would like to see developed. Rome was not built in a day.

Not only are STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) up for the 6th year in a row, new cases are expected to intensify due to a lack of testing during the pandemic, as well as people trying to get out and make up for lost time. 

Hooking up with new sex partners is dangerous for so many reasons. Even more dangerous than previously thought.

The numbers were rising before the pandemic. Most people do not realize that many STI’s do not have symptoms associated with them.

It is an awkward but NECESSARY conversation that should occur PRIOR to a sexual encounter with a new partner. Knowing about any existing STD’s, HIV status, previous partners and types of sexual encounters is a NEED TO KNOW prior to starting a new relationship.

With hookups, alcohol, drug use, and bad decisions take away inhibitions, as well as protective measures that we usually insist upon with a new partner.

Optimally, both partners agree in advance to get tested together before proceeding. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to STI’s and HIV. Sadly, not everyone is honest with potential partners. A fear of rejection and harsh judgment prevent honest conversation.

While most STI’s can be treated and cured, some diagnoses have a lifetime sentence imposed with them. 

In many instances during the pandemic, fear of the virus superseded fear of an STI and being diagnosed and treated.

Another reason that testing and contact tracing was diminished last year was because a lot of the proactive experts were diverted to assist in COVID-19 efforts.

Moving forward, people are hooking up through social settings, social media, dating sites and sex parties. Many may be hooking up and spreading STI’s with existing but undiagnosed infections.

It is important to realize that sexual education in schools and by parents is sorely lacking. Part of that education should include the fact that actions have consequences. Untreated STI’s can have permanent and long-lasting consequences.

According to Healthline:

“Women who have STI’s- particularly if they go untreated for a lengthy period – can contract pelvic inflammatory disease, experience ectopic pregnancies, and even develop infertility.”

While Healthline promotes and recommends people under 30 get tested, there is another segment of the population that really needs a refresher education course on STI’s, and that is our geriatric generation.

To read more about a rise in STI’s in the elderly, you can read it here; A Raincoat? At My Age? | STD's In Seniors.

There is a trend with high school aged teenagers to have oral sex instead of full

penetrative sex. What most of them do not know due to a lack of proper education, is that many STD’s are transmitted through oral sex.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports in a study conducted during 2011-2015, that 41% of teenagers aged 15-19 years of age reported having had oral sex with a partner of the opposite sex. 

It is important to note that you can contract and transfer STI’s simply from oral sex. These STI’s can occur in the mouth or throat from giving oral sex to a partner with an infected penis.

Again, you have to remember that not all STI’s show symptoms. Here are a few symptoms of infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Discharge from vagina or penis. (discharge from the vagina may be bloody)
  • Burning feeling when urinating
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Rectal pain or discharge

If you have a throat infection, urinary or rectal infection, you and your partner can transfer the infection back and forth without diagnosis and treatment.

Untreated infections can cause premature births in pregnant women, and can spread the infection to your baby causing long-term complications such as deafness or blindness.

You are also more at risk of getting and spreading HIV infection with undetected sexually transmitted infections.

Further, you may have a reaction, causing reactive arthritis, pink eye or a rash.

All because of oral sex!

You can avoid transmission back and forth during oral sex by using a condom or a dental dam. DO NOT USE THE SAME CONDOM WHEN SWITCHING FROM ORAL SEX TO PENETRATIVE SEX.

Also according to the CDC:

“THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID STD’s IS TO NOT HAVE VAGINAL, ANAL, OR ORAL SEX.”

Where can I go to get tested if I do not want my parents to know?

Again, most sexually active people are not going to disclose to their parents they are sexually active.

Sometimes, as we mentioned earlier, our normal behavior changes for various reasons, and we do things we were not adequately prepared for. Nor, were we prepared for consequences from our “crazy night out.”

You can go to CDC.gov and look at their GET TESTED program.

Testing kits are available in some instances. However; it should be noted that due to the pandemic, there is a shortage of testing kits.

If you are tested and receive positive results for an STI or HIV, it is vitally important to share this information with your partner so they can be tested and treated as well. Do not initiate sex with a new partner without full disclosure about your infection.

We know these conversations are difficult, but they are necessary. As is TOTAL HONESTY with the doctor or nurse you are consulting.

Here are a few other resources:

STD information and referrals to STD clinics

CDC-INFO

1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-237-4636

GirlsHealth.gov

Healthfinder.gov

American Sexual Health Association

We have previously published articles concentrating on STI’s and the massive impact they have. Following are the links to a few of those articles: 

Be sure to subscribe and stay tuned for the second installment of our Covid Consequences series. Part II will be published on Thursday, August 19th.

Be informed, be proactive and most of all, BE SAFE!