Sex Isn’t Just About Sex Anymore
Everything You Need To Know Before You Start Dating Again
The television show “Sex and the City” has inspired fashion, culture and a soon-to-be released movie. But the lifestyle of casual sex led by its characters isn’t healthy for singles — whether they’re married or newly divorced. That’s because sex isn’t just about sex anymore. It’s also about disease. And it can be deadly.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “One to 1.2 million US residents are living with HIV infection or AIDS. About a quarter of them do not know they have it. About 75 percent of the 40,000 new infections each year are in men, and about 25 percent in women. About half of the new infections are in blacks, even though they make up only 12 percent of the US population.”
Unfortunately, Lindsay Novak, a psychotherapist in Omaha, Neb., cautions newly divorced people not to confuse sex with love or vice versa. “…Don’t think that love equals sex, where you might jump into a physical relationship and construe that as love when it’s nothing more than a physical bond,” she said.
The tendency, she thinks, is more common in newly divorced women, who still believe in marriage despite the breakup of their marriage. A recent study found that 22 percent of divorced women reported having sex one to three times a month and 13 percent reported having sex three to six times per month, according to an article in msn.com. “The biggest thing I go over with women is when they chase somebody who’s really not interested in them – learning when someone’s interested in you and when somebody’s not, establishing boundaries, learning not to parent the other person, not looking for somebody to fix as a project,” Novak said.
Having sex with a partner without taking the proper precautions can give you any number of other sexually transmitted diseases, besides AIDS. They range from hepatitis to Human papillomavirus to syphilis, among many others. According to International AIDS charity, Avert.org, “Increasing numbers of chlamydia infections have made it the most widespread STD in the USA.” In 1996 there were 492,631 cases at aa rate of 190.6 per 100,000 people. By 2006 that has more than doubled to more than 1 million cases at a rate of 347.8 per 100,000 people, site statistics show.
Novak recommends spending some time alone after getting divorced –finding yourself through new hobbies, clubs or other self-actualizing activities, like writing a diary. “I tell most of my clients to start dating themselves until they’re ready to move onward,” she said.
MORE ABOUT STDS FROM AVERT.ORG
Although you might be older and divorced, you are still at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, according to Avert.org:
1. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Is usually found in sexually active women. It is caused by an imbalance in the healthy bacteria in the vagina. A woman cannot pass it to a man.
2. Balanitis. Affects men and usually presents itself as an inflammation of the penis. It can be caused by irritation due to condoms and spermicides, using perfumed toiletries and by having thrush.
3. Chlamydia. It can cause serious problems later in life if it is not treated. Chlamydia infects the cervix in women. The urethra, rectum and eyes can be infected in both sexes.
4. Crabs or Pubic Lice. These are parasites that live on hair and which draw blood. They live predominantly on pubic hair. Crabs are mainly passed on through body contact during sex, but they can also be passed on through sharing clothes or towels or bedding
5. Epididymitis. Inflammation of the epididymitis, a tube system above the testicles where sperm are stored. It is usually due to the presence of Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. Symptoms will present themselves in the form of swollen and painful testicles and scrotum. The best way of preventing it is to use condoms during sex.
6. Genital herpes. The virus usually affects the mouth or genital area. Once the first outbreak of herpes is over, the virus hides in the nerve fibers, where it remains undetected and causes no symptoms. Symptoms of the first infection usually appear one to 26 days after exposure and last two to three weeks.
7. Genital warts. Small fleshy growths which may appear anywhere on a man or woman’s genital area. They are caused by HPV. Warts can grow on the genitals, or on different parts of the body, such as the hands. After you have been infected with the genital wart virus, it usually takes between one and three months for warts to appear on your genitals.
8. Gonorrhea. It can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, anus and throat. Symptoms of infection may show up at anytime between one and 14 days after exposure.
9. Gut Infections. Two of the most common infections are Amoebiasis and Giardiasis. They are bacterial infections and can cause stomach pains.
10. Hepatitis.This causes the liver to become inflamed. There are various types of hepatitis, the most common being hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis can be caused by alcohol and some drugs, but usually it is the result of a viral infection.
11. Molluscum. A skin disease. It appears as small bumps on the skin and can last from a couple of weeks to a few years. They are passed on through body contact during sex.
12. Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU). An inflammation of a man’s urethra caused by several different types of infection, the most common being Chlamydia.
13. Scabies. Caused by a parasitic mite that can get under the skin and cause itching. The mites cannot be seen. This can start between two to six weeks after infection.
14. Syphilis. It is usually sexually transmitted, but may also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child. The symptoms are the same in men and women.
15. Thrush. A yeast which lives on the skin and is normally kept in check by harmless bacteria. If it multiplies, it can cause itching, swelling and other symptoms in men and women.Thrush can be passed on when having sex with someone who is infected, but also if you wear too tight nylon or lycra clothes or by certain medications.
16. Trichomonas Vaginosis. Caused by a parasite that is found in women’s vaginas and men’s urethras. Often, there are not any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they can include pain when urinating and discharge in men and discharge, soreness when having sex and when urinating and inflammation of the vulva in women.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AIDS
Now that you’re divorcing and entering the dating world again, you will also have to worry about the problems associated with dating, like the possibility of AIDS. AIDS.org explains important information everyone should know:
1. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
2. There is no cure for AIDS, although there are drugs that can slow down the virus.
3. Being HIV-positive is not the same as having AIDS.
4. As HIV progresses, it wears down the immune system.
5. You get infected with HIV and later develop AIDS.
6. Most people get the virus by having sex with an infected person, sharing a needle with an infected person or being infected by their mother at birth.
7. It is possible to be infected with HIV through oral sex or in rare cases deep kissing, especially if you have open sores in your mouth or bleeding gums.
8. You might not know if you get infected by HIV.
9. The virus will multiply for a few weeks or even months before your immune system responds. During this time, you won’t test positive, but you can infect other people.
10. After the first flu-like symptoms, some people with HIV stay healthy for a decade.
About the author: Krystle Russin is a freelance journalist in Austin, Texas. She has seven years of journalism experience, hosting a PBS show and contributing to print and online publications.