According to a recent study, unprotected sex is not a thing of the past. The Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation conducted a survey of 5,865 individuals (ages 14 to 94) covering condom use in heterosexual sex and found that singles are using condoms only about one-third of the time.
Women tend to be more aware of the dangers of STDs, and according to Barbara Bartlik, MD, psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, men are way undereducated on the topic of sexually transmitted infections. The following is a list of infections that can be transmitted by having sex without a condomall of which are nearly 100% preventable by wearing one.
STD Dangers For Men
- Chlamydia. Testing for chlamydia (usually involving a cervical swab) is a routine part of a gynecological exam, so women are more likely to get tested and treated for chlamydia. But that's not the case for men—if they're not told that they've been exposed, men may go on to infect other partners. Women with chlamydia who don't get treated will often develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can result in scarring in their fallopian tubes that can cause infertility. Men with untreated chlamydia may eventually suffer urinary discomfort (itching, burning, discharge) and scarring of the prostate.
- Herpes. A common misperception, even among people who have herpes, is that there's no danger of infection if there are no active sores. That's not so herpes can be contagious even when the carrier of the virus has no visible sores.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is among the most dangerous STDs-in fact (depending on the type) one of the deadliest, because it often brings no symptoms and can increase the risk for oral and anal cancer in both genders...cervical cancer in women and penis cancer in men. According to Dr. Bartlik, HPV infection is so rampant that a person who has had unprotected sex with three or more partners has probably been exposed to it. Six million new genital HPV cases occur each year here in the US.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Obviously, the stakes are high with HIV. Dr. Bartlik told me that, all other things being equal, in heterosexual sex, women are at higher risk for acquiring HIV than men (because men are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers, and the mucous membrane of the vagina is more vulnerable than the outer skin of the penis). But, she noted, "Even for the man, the risk is not zero."
- Chronic prostate infections. Acknowledging that this is anecdotal and not yet confirmed with research, Dr. Bartlik said that she and other doctors are seeing more men with chronic prostate infections-she and her colleagues believe that this may be related to bacterial infections picked up during unprotected sex. "Although I'm speculating, perhaps regular condom use might cut down on some of these bacterial infections as well as on the standard STDs," she said.
Should Committed Couples Use Condoms?
Dr. Bartlik believes that even couples who are in long-term, committed monogamous relationships ought to still use condoms. "The unexpected happens sometimes," she said, noting that it's not unusual to hear that people who never intended to have encounters or even affairs end up doing so. According to The Kinsey Institute, about 20% to 25% of men and 10% to 15% of women have extramarital sex at least once during their marriages. "Most of the time, these are not discovered," she said. "Often, at the end of the affair, they simply pick up and continue with married life-meaning unprotected sex with their spouse or partner."
Does the idea of using condoms forever make you feel glum? Dr. Bartlik outlined a strategy that allows a committed couple to make a safe segue from using condoms to enjoying the full intimacy of having nothing between you.
Couples making a commitment to a monogamous relationship can agree to get tested to confirm that neither partner is carrying an STD or, if there is evidence of one, to then make a rational decision about whether or not condoms are needed.
See your doctor (individually or together to discuss the necessary steps, since there are several different types of tests involved, with varying degrees of reliability.
Share and discuss your results. If you both agree that no infidelity will occur-and more importantly, that if it does, you both promise to be honest about it right away-then go ahead and stop using condoms-unless you use them to prevent unwanted pregnancy, of course.
Slip into Something Red
Men who wear red appear more powerful M to women. Women view powerful men as more attractive and sexually desirable. They also view men in red as wealthier and more likely to climb the social ladder.
If Your Partner Has Breast Cancer…
Men whose partners have breast cancer are at risk for mood disorders serious enough to require hospitalization. The stress of dealing with the partner’s disease, and the deprivation of emotional and social support that it brings, makes men more likely to develop major depression, bipolar disease and other serious mood-related conditions.
Self-defense: Men whose partners have breast cancer should be screened for depressive symptoms and treated before any conditions become severe enough to require hospital care.
How Spouses Help Ease Pain
Researchers observed communication patterns between 78 adults with chronic pain and their spouses.
Result: The male patients' pain, marital satisfaction and depression were more affected by their spouse's negative and/or unsupportive behavior than were the female patients'.
Theory: Pain may be disruptive to the husband's traditional role as provider, making men vulnerable to a spouse's negative responses.
If you or your spouse suffers from chronic pain: See a psychologist or social worker who can counsel the couple, not just the pain patient.