Safe Sex In Summer: The Importance Of Regular Std Checks
The Connection Between Summer and Increased Sexual Activity
There are several reasons why sex urges may rise throughout the summer. Here are some of the things that might play a role in this.
Increased exposure to sunlight
Sunlight exposure can raise vitamin D levels in the body, which has been related to higher testosterone levels in both men and women.
Warmer weather can enhance blood flow, which can result in heightened sexual excitement releasing endorphins that boost the libido
Increased physical activity
Swimming, hiking, and biking are popular outdoor activities throughout the summer. Physical activity regularly helps enhance blood flow and general health contributing to increased sex drive.
Relaxation and stress reduction
Many individuals enjoy summer vacations, which may give a much-needed reprieve from the strains of daily life. This can aid in the reduction of tension and anxiety, which in turn can boost sexual desire and performance. Students may also go to festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza to reduce stress(2).
Understanding the STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are illnesses spread via sexual contact. They are often transmitted via vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. They can, however, be spread by other sexual contacts with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. This is because some STDs, such as herpes and HPV, are transferred through skin-to-skin contact.
There are more than 20 types of STDs, including:
What are the symptoms of STDs?
STDs don’t always cause symptoms or may only cause mild symptoms. So it is possible to have an infection and not know it. And even without symptoms, STDs can still be harmful and may be passed on during sex.
If there are symptoms, they could include:
- Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
- Sores or warts on the genital area
- Painful or frequent urination (peeing)
- Itching and redness in the genital area
- Blisters or sores in or around the mouth
- Abnormal vaginal odor
- Anal itching, soreness, or bleeding
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosis of STD
STIs are frequently asymptomatic. When symptoms appear, they might be vague. Furthermore, laboratory tests are based on blood, urine, or tissue samples. At least one STI can be found in three different anatomical areas. Sex and sexual risk influence these distinctions. Because of these distinctions, STIs are commonly misdiagnosed, and people are routinely treated for two or more STIs.(4)
The Role of Regular STD Checks in Safe Sex
The frequency with which you require testing is determined by various factors, including:
- Age and gender
- Sexual preference
- Whether you’re pregnant or not
Your sexual history and relationship status also have a role, depending on whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or had several partners.
Do you need annual testing? Annual testing (at least for chlamydia) is recommended by the CDC for all adults who engage in sexual activity at least once in that given year.
The best approach to protect yourself (and your partners) is to keep up with your testing, and annual testing isn’t always enough. The CDC recommends interval testing. Testing at regular times — as often as every 3-6 months — may be beneficial to you. (5)
The Risks of Not Getting Regular STD Checks
If left unchecked and untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can make it difficult—or even impossible—for a woman to get pregnant later in life due to infertility. The chances of getting HIV if you have an untreated STD also increase. Some STDs, like HIV, can be fatal if left untreated.
Delay in seeking tests maybe leads to mother-to-baby transmission leading to birth defects.
Options for STD Checks
You may get STI testing at the following locations:
- Planned Parenthood offers STI testing. Certain factors, such as income, demography, and help eligibility, influence costs.
- Doctor’s surgery. You can book an appointment with a doctor or go to your local urgent care center for rapid testing.
- Health clinics in the community. Most government-funded healthcare centers provide STI testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV for free or at a minimal cost. Some people are also given money to get tested for herpes, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis.
- Pharmacy. Some pharmacies have the opportunity to arrange to test for STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV.
- At home. Currently, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test is the only rapid at-home HIV test that’s approved and trusted Source by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Online consultation on FIRST Derm can help you with STD testing. (3)
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How to Have Safe Sex in Summer
As humans, we are biologically wired to seek pleasure, and sexual activity is a significant source of such pleasure for many people. But, as we dive into these joys, it’s essential to remember the importance of safety.
- Condoms are one of the most effective means of STI prevention, including HIV, when used appropriately and regularly. Condoms, despite their effectiveness, do not protect against STIs that cause extra-genital ulcers (e.g., syphilis or genital herpes). Condoms should be used in all vaginal and anal intercourse whenever feasible. A dental dam is a square piece of stretchy latex or a similar material. It is placed over a woman’s genitals when she receives oral sex. Oral sex is a sexual act where someone’s mouth touches the other person’s genitals. A dental dam helps prevent the spread of STDs.
- Mutual monogamy– means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs.
- Reduce the Number of Sex Partners
- Vaccination– one important preventive tool against STDs is the use of vaccination. Vaccines are available for three of the most common STIs: HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B.
HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens ages 11 or 12 (or can start at age 9) and everyone through age 26, if not vaccinated already. However, some adults aged 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.
Hepatitis A is preventable when you get the vaccine, which consists of two shots administered six months apart.
You can receive the Hepatitis B vaccine in a series of two, three, or four injections(1).
Regular STD checkup in summer is extremely important:
|Because even virgins can have STDs: Just because your partner has never had vaginal intercourse doesn’t mean they can’t have an STI.
|Monogamy is not a guarantee
|Because it’s never too late to play safe: Nobody wants to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. However, knowing whether or not you have an STI is preferable. You can seek therapy once you know.
|Because you can’t be treated until you’ve been diagnosed
|Because not all STIs cause symptoms: Up to 70% of females with chlamydia, for example, do not have symptoms.
|Because untreated STIs can cause permanent problems
|Because you respect yourself and your sexual partners: The best reason to get tested for STIs is that it encourages honest communication with your sexual partners about STI risks and safer sex. Unless you and your partners have been tested, there’s no way to know if you have infections you need to disclose.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. If you have any concerns or questions about your skin, you should always consult with a dermatologist or other qualified health care professional.
- Kontula O, Väisälä L. [How does summer affect sexual desire?]. Duodecim. 2013 Aug 1;129:1375–8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254259310_How_does_summer_affect_sexual_desire
- Caniklioğlu M, Öztekin Ü, Caniklioğlu A, Selmi V, Sarı S, Işıkay L. Can Annual Daylight Cycles and Seasons Have an Effect on Male Sexual Functions? Cureus. 2021 Oct;13(10):e18879. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8599110/
- Wellings K, Macdowall W, Catchpole M, Goodrich J. Seasonal variations in sexual activity and their implications for sexual health promotion. J R Soc Med. 1999 Mar 1;92:60–4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297061/
- Hughes K, Bellis MA. Sexual behavior among casual workers in an international nightlife resort: a case control study. BMC Public Health [Internet]. 2006;6(1):39. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-6-39 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1388203/
- Demir A, Uslu M, Arslan OE. The effect of seasonal variation on sexual behaviors in males and its correlation with hormone levels: a prospective clinical trial. Cent Eur J Urol. 2016;69(3):285–9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5057046/
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