No-Cost and Confidential Women's Center

The Gift that keeps on giving

As the holidays draw near and we frantically look for that perfect gift for our loved ones, we probably want to find something they will love and use.  Maybe something funny that will make them laugh.  I’m guessing most of us don’t want to give something that would damage health or break hearts.  There is a common type of “gift” given during the holidays that does damage health and break hearts. Google the phrase, “the gift that keeps on giving.” You may be surprised to find many references to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).  Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Herpes, Syphilis, and many more can be spread with just one sexual encounter.

 

STDs and the holidays

According to an article on Health Central  , the number of cases of STDs goes up during the holidays.
Some possible reasons for the increase can be attributed to holiday parties with alcohol, being cooped up inside during cold weather with nothing to do, and even the holiday atmosphere itself….”why not have sex with that person I just met, it’s Christmas or New Years!”  Another article specifically mentions casual hookups as a reason for increased STDs during the holidays.

What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones?

The first and best way to protect yourself from STDs is to abstain from sex. If you are single, you can decide now to stay smart and keep safe from STDs this holiday season.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you may be tempted to have a casual sex.  Stay sober at parties so you don’t do something you might regret later.  By choosing to abstain from sex, you will not have to worry about getting a sexually transmitted disease.

What if you are in a relationship already and do not want to choose abstinence?

The second best way to prevent STDs is to be in a mutually monogamous relationship (you only have sex with each other) and you are both free from any STDs.  That means you both get tested.  Many STDs have no symptoms.  Just because your sweetheart looks ok and says they don’t have an STD does not mean they don’t have an STD.  If they have been sexually active before, they may have a disease and not know it.

Why can’t I just use a condom?

Condoms do not prevent STDs, they just lower your risk for getting them.  Here are a couple of issues with condoms.

First, some STDs are transmitted by skin to skin contact.  The skin not covered by the condom is at risk for disease. Herpes, syphilis, and HPV are some STDs that can be easily transmitted even when using a condom the correct way.

Other factors are the possibility of faulty condoms that tear or user error when putting on or taking off the condom.

 

Now let’s add alcohol to the equation:  

Picture a bunch of drunk people trying to wrap a present.  They are all lined up with Christmas wrapping paper, and they are completely inebriated.  Got that picture firmly implanted in your head?  How well do you think they would do wrapping their gifts? While their intentions may be good, those presents may not be completely and properly wrapped.  Some of those gift wraps may have tears and holes.  Some wrappers might even fall off the gift.  And most would probably have parts of the present showing here and there.  Some of the inebriated folks might even give up and give the gift completely unwrapped.  So if the condom is the gift wrap and you and your partner are drunk, how well do you think the condom will protect you from STDs?

STD Testing

Personally, as far as bad gifts go, I would much rather receive a fruitcake than an STD. If you don’t want to give or receive that gift that keeps on giving this year, plan ahead to stay sober, abstinent, and STD free.    If you have already had sex and haven’t been tested for STDs, be sure to do so at your local public health department or your primary healthcare provider.  In Wyoming you can go online to http://knowyo.org/  to get a voucher for reduced cost STD testing.

You are capable
of more than you know.