A recent article published in 2017 in Medical News Today discussed ten scientifically based benefits to having sex. Those sited benefits include: improved immunity, improved heart health, lower blood pressure, relief of pain, reduced risk of prostate cancer, better sleep, stress relief, improved memory and brain function, increased lifespan, and a boost to self-esteem.
While there are definite benefits to having sex, all too often people engage in risky sexual behaviors that have an impact on individual and public health. Risky sexual behaviors are defined by their increased risk of producing negative outcomes such as contracting or transmitting disease or the potential for an unwanted pregnancy. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to:
Having more than one sexual partner
Changing sexual partners frequently
Having sexual contact without the appropriate protection
Using unreliable methods of birth control, or using birth control inconsistently
When looking at adolescent births in the state of Utah by local health department, the TriCounty Health District, unfortunately, has the highest rate of 34.3 adolescent births per 1,000 adolescent females.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) as a disease “passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact – such as heavy petting – and from sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex.” STDs can mostly be prevented by (1) abstaining from sex, (2) if you are going to to have sex maintaining a monogamous sexual relationship, and (3) using appropriate protection while engaging in sexual activity.
While Chlamydia rates in Utah are significantly lower than the U.S., the bad news is that rates over the past 24 years have consistently risen with Utah reporting 9,459 cases in 2016. In tracking communicable disease across the tri-county area, our largest caseload is chlamydia.
Chlamydia is also most common among persons who are between the ages of 15 and 24.
Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.
Women with symptoms may notice
An abnormal vaginal discharge;
A burning sensation when urinating.
Symptoms in men can include
A discharge from their penis;
A burning sensation when urinating;
Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common).
Men and women can also get infected with chlamydia in their rectum. This happens either by having receptive anal sex, or by spread from another infected site (such as the vagina). While these infections often cause no symptoms, they can cause
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
Gonorrhea is the second most prevalent STD in Utah and the tri-county area. In fact, gonorrhea cases have declined in Utah over the past 24 years. However, we are starting to see an increase over the last 3 years.
Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms may have:
A burning sensation when urinating;
A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;
Painful or swollen testicles (although this is less common).
Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms. Symptoms in women can include:
Painful or burning sensation when urinating;
Increased vaginal discharge;
Vaginal bleeding between periods. Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms in both men and women that may include:
Painful bowel movements.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
Prevention is Key
Whether we you are talking about an unwanted pregnancy or spreading or contracting an STD, prevention is the key. To assist in this effort, TriCounty Health Department’s STD program has free condoms available to the public, no questions asked.
STD Testing & Treatment
STDs do not always cause symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. That is why it is important to get tested if you are having sex.
TriCounty Health provides confidential STD testing for:
HIV (Free for the next 2 weeks – $35 after March 9)
TriCounty Health also provides confidential treatment for:
Chlamydia (free with testing)
Gonorrhea (free with testing)
Walk-ins are welcome for STD testing and treatment at both our Vernal and Roosevelt locations.
What can happen if I don’t get treated for chlamydia or gonorrhea?