This article discusses a mature topic. Our 17-year-old and younger readers are encouraged to read this with an adult.
I watch a lot of sci-fi – some of it good (Firefly) and some of it really good (Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Star Trek). One of the things that fascinate me is our vision of the future. Humans explore space, meet other species and battle robots we created who eventually turn on us.
If you know your vintage sci-fi (thank you, Jules Verne and Arthur C. Clarke), you know that a few things were foretold (submarines, satellites), but a lot of stuff wasn’t. Antibiotics, for instance: the little accidental mold that literally saved the world. Before Sir Alexander Fleming grew it, people were dying or permanently damaged by a whole host of things most of us don’t worry about anymore.
What does the world look like when antibiotics don’t work anymore? Today I’m going to explore a scary future when some curable STDs are no longer curable, as well as clear up a few myths about high vs. low “levels of sex.” As always, if you have questions, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I was wondering about what STDs you can get from “a lower level of sex.” Some people consider themselves safe if they only have oral sex, but I’m not sure what the dangers are. Are they equal to that of unprotected sex?
I get this question all the time. Like I mentioned in my last post, people have different definitions for sex and abstinence. There are a lot of misconceptions about what is risky, and what is just plain-old, harmless fun (the sexual equivalent of ping pong or Scrabble).
Any type of sex (vaginal, anal or oral), especially unprotected, carries a risk of STD transmission – but there are different types of STDs that can be transmitted through each activity. Oral sex can transmit a skin-to-skin infection, like herpes or HPV, and fluid-based ones, like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. The latter two are incredibly common STDs that are both caused by bacteria. This means that, if detected early enough, they can both be cured with antibiotics. Well, at least for the time being…
Recently health agencies have discovered a strain of Gonorrhea that is resistant to antibiotic treatment—meaning that the bacteria has evolved so that it can survive. Of the fifty antibiotics that have been used to treat Gonorrhea, only one still works and it seems certain that, sooner or later, that one will also become obsolete.
With an estimated 700,000 new cases of Gonorrhea each year in the US, the potential that it might one day be incurable is pretty frightening! That said, all hope is not lost—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended new treatment protocols to extend the life of the last effective antibiotic, and countless researchers are rapidly working to discover new antibiotics that can cure this, and other, infections. Of course, as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” `
I don’t want to get an STD, but I do want to have sex. What do I do?
Like most of us, you would like to express your love and affection for a fellow human being without fearing for your health or your life. Here are a couple tips for staying safe:
- Get tested regularly. Most people do a pretty swell job of cleaning themselves up when they’re trying to convince someone of their worthiness as a sexual partner, but you can’t tell if someone has an STD just by looking them. So not only is it important for you to get tested, but for your potential partners to get tested regularly. (Your local Planned Parenthood health center can help you out with this).
- Treatment. If something does come up, have both you and your partner get treated as soon as possible. Wishful thinking will not cure an STD!
- Prevention. I know I’ve talked about condoms in this column before but, besides not having sex, a barrier method is the best way to prevent STDs.