The gift that no one wants. That's right: STDS

Hello, ladies, Jenn here.

With the holidays over, you’d think the idea of a gift exchange would be the last thing on my mind. You’d be wrong. But the chance you’ll guess what kind of gift is on my mind is finer than frog hair. For those of you unfamiliar with all things amphibian, frogs are hairless. In other words, you’ll never guess.

I’m thinking of a gift no one wants, but too many of are getting: a sexually transmitted disease. That’s right: STDs. They’re on the rise and have been for a few years. 2017 was a record year, with about 2.3 million case of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis being diagnosed in the U.S.

Not to change the subject, but I want to meet the person who named these diseases. Today, every new disease or condition is reduced to a cutesy, marketable acronym or phrase. TMJ or COPD just don’t convey the depth of pain and discomfort the ailments cause. But words like “Chlamydia” and “Gonorrhea.” Well, they’re just big ol’ buckets of ice water on the ol’ libido. You don’t even have to know what they do to know you want nothing to do with them.

So, what do you need to do to keep STDs at arm’s length or further? Well, if you’re out there actively dipping body parts in the dating pool, you already know you shouldn’t get intimate without making sure your partner has a clean bill of health. And even then, keep a condom in your purse right next to your Kleenex and your hand sanitizer. That’s a threesome we can all get behind, am I right?

I shouldn’t have to say this out loud, but I will. Don’t just settle for a partner’s verbal assertion that he or she isn’t packing an STD. This is a trust but verify kind of situation.

Too awkward to demand proof before penetration, you say?

Let me tell you about awkward. Awkward is explaining to your grown children why you’re walking funny or, worse (and this can happen) in the hospital hooked up to an intravenous antibiotic drip to get yourself healthy.

Seriously, ladies, STDs are no joking matter. And they seem to be everywhere!

In a committed, exclusive relationship? Congratulations. But don’t get too smug. You can still be exposed, and in too many cases, you’ll do the right thing and get the treatment you need. Then, you’ll be re-exposed because your partner won’t address his or her condition. I won’t even get into all the reasons why that might be. All I know is that it’s not uncommon for one partner to refuse to go in and face the doctoral music.

The good news is Indiana has an app for that. OK. It’s not really an app, but it is a remedy for those who can’t overcome their embarrassment. Hoosier doctors can legally prescribe medication for the partner of an STD-carrier. It’s not the best situation because if your partner won’t get help to get rid of an STD, he or she is probably not getting other important health issues addressed.

The best scenario is that you both go, talk openly about how you might have contracted the disease and take the steps necessary to get rid of it, so you don’t keep passing it back and forth like you do with the ‘flu and that Sudoku puzzle neither of you can solve.

Don’t know enough about STDs to know if you might have one? You can go to the state health department for credible information that won’t scare the bejeebies out of you. It’s worth a little time with your laptop. If not for you, for your partner, your kids or a loved one.

Now I’m not a doctor, but you know I know some stuff. But even I don’t know everything, and when it comes to stuff like this, you need an expert. That’s why you should talk to your doctor when you find things down there that don’t belong.

Let’s face it: we’re social animals. Given a chance, we’re going to exchange some bodily fluids at some point, and there’s nothing wrong with being consensually intimate. There’s nothing wrong with having an STD, either. You wouldn’t be ashamed to ask for medication for shingles or strep throat would you?

Be smart, ladies. If you insist on giving a gift that just keeps giving, make it wine of the month. And give it to me!

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