Just because you are getting a divorce does not mean that you haven't been having sex. But there is a good chance that if you're getting a divorce, it’s been a while since you had sex with somebody different and maybe you're thinking of getting out there again.
We talked to Dr. Betsey Greenleaf DO, she is the first board certified female, urogynecologist in the country and the first board certified in the state of New Jersey. She shared with us some facts about sexual health that you might find interesting before playing the field again:
- There is currently an STI epidemic. Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have been on the rise for the last five years! So, if you're still in your childbearing years and may want to have children later, or if you're getting divorced, and maybe you find the next Mr. or Mrs. Right, ignoring these infections can prevent you from having more kids. They can also cause serious damage to both men and women´s reproductive systems. So, don’t take things lightly and get regular STI tests, also remember to always use protection!
- STI’s are on the rise for people 55 and older. This is because there is a higher divorce rate in this age group and they are starting to get out and meet other people and because women in this age group are perimenopausal or menopausal, there is not as much stress about having to prevent pregnancy. So therefore, there's not as much condom use. This leads to a big bump in sexually transmitted infections. My advice is, just because pregnancy is less likely to occur doesn’t mean you should not wear a condom.
- One in three people have herpes or have had exposure to the herpes virus. And not everybody develops sores. You can get infected by skin-to-skin contact. So, sometimes even condoms don't really prevent getting and STI. Again, get regular testing and if you are in a relationship, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for regular tests as well.
- There are about 300 strains of HPV (Human Papillomavirus) that we know of. Certain strains of that virus put you at a much higher risk of cervical cancer or penile cancer. There are other strains that can cause genital warts. We also know that you can get HPV in the throat and in the mouth. So, do your research regarding HPV and get vaccinated if you can.
- In the states where there is higher dating app usage, the rates of STI’s are higher. Dating apps foster impulsivity. So, the biggest thing to prevent getting an STI is really to slow down. We get it. Hormones are racing and you want to be in the moment. But try to slow down and think about the situation. Ask yourself are you with somebody that you trust? Can you find them again if there is an issue?
- A lot of women don't actually get symptoms. Men tend to get more symptoms. They can have a penile discharge. Women might not have symptoms and might not even know until, suddenly, they are sick. So, the biggest thing is if you're in a new relationship, get tested. You should be tested every three months for every new person that you are with or every new person your partner is with.
- There is free testing in many states. if you go through your state health department, a lot of them have clinics that you can just go get tested for free and anonymously if you're embarrassed about it.
- Even though HIV is not a death sentence, does not mean you should take it lightly. People have gotten more comfortable with it over time. But even though it is treated more like a chronic disease now because of the new medications, it is important to at least have one HIV test within your lifetime for any age group.
- Beware of the Perimenopausal Period! A lot of people who think, I'm 45, I'm 50 I'm 55. I'm not going to get pregnant. Be careful. Your hormone levels are decreasing, but the ovaries may still have some fight left. If you are not careful you might end up with a surprise baby. Keep in mind that you must go a full year without a period to be officially in menopause. You still need to be using protection if you don't want to get pregnant during that time period.
This blog is from a livestream episode of the Divorce Happy Hour Podcast. You can watch the full interview with Dr. Greenleaf here.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to constitute or take the place of medical advice. If you have questions about STI’s or sexual health, please consult with a trusted healthcare professional. You can find Dr. Greenleaf here: https://greenleafbewell.com/
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