Today I got the following email from “Neil,” one of my sources in Secret Sex Lives:

Hi Suzy,

Geeze, we’re all waiting for a blog update.

Busy, doing well?

Neil

 

As I told Neil, yes, it’s busy. Last week I started a new blog post but didn’t get it finished because my time is split and scattered. While preparing for the October 2, 2012 publication of Secret Sex Lives, I’m trying to make sure that I finish the screenplay that’s occupied my thoughts for nearly a year.

But I’m taking time away from all of that to write a new post on something that I think is very important – STDs and the practice of safer sex.

Why, you may ask, am I talking about a downer of a subject like STDs and safer sex? It’s because of a headline I read today: “Gonorrhea becoming resistant to only treatment left.”

To that, you may say, so what?

I’ll answer you your “so what” in just a moment. First I want to reply to a Facebook fan who told me that she’s ready for me to start leaking a few Secret Sex Lives snippets.

Karen, here’s a snippet:

I printed out the Centers for Disease Control report “Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures,” tossed my stuffed animals to the floor, and climbed into bed. Beneath the lamplight I read …

Then I highlighted, “There is evidence, however, that certain diseases can be transmitted through oral sex, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, chancroid, and syphilis.”

Yes, I realize that that snippet is probably a bit too serious to entice you into reading the book. And I assure you that the entire book is not like the above, but again STDs are a very serious matter and they need to be openly discussed. And specifically, when it comes to gonorrhea, as Dr. Tyeese Gaines, health editor for theGrio.com, wrote in the “Gonorrhea becoming resistant to only treatment left” article:

* “Over 300,000 cases [of gonorrhea] are reported each year, and it’s estimated that the number is closer to 700,000, since many people go undiagnosed or untreated, and continue to pass it on.”

* “Untreated, gonorrhea has major implications for women, causing infertility, ectopic pregnancy — a life-threatening condition where the pregnancy is outside of the uterus — and a deeper infection that spreads into the uterus, fallopian tubes and the pelvis.”

* “Contracting gonorrhea makes it more likely to transmit and become infected with HIV as well, for both men and women.”

* Gonorrhea, aka “the clap,” may soon have no drugs left to treat the infection, meaning “untreatable gonorrhea is a real possibility,” according to Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC.

* That’s because “lab studies are showing an increasing resistance to the type of drugs that doctors use to treat gonorrhea.”

* “Gonorrhea is transmitted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus of an infected partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

* “Ejaculation does not have to occur to pass the disease. It can also spread from a mother to her child during childbirth.”

* “The CDC currently recommends annual gonorrhea testing for women with more than one partner, or in communities where gonorrhea is rampant.”

While researching and writing Secret Sex Lives, several of my sources were diagnosed with STDs. Most were successfully treated, but others will live with their STD the rest of their lives.

I don’t want you – my readers, my fans, my friends, my sources – to go through the anxiety of an STD. Please, practice safer sex.

And with that, I leave you with one more snippet from Secret Sex Lives:

While Jessica was going to bed with Ralph, I was going to bed with approximately 185 pages of Centers for Disease Control statistics on STDs. According to the CDC, more than half of all Americans will eventually get an STD. Getting any sort of an STD increases one’s chances of contracting HIV/ AIDS.

Yet only 14 percent of men and 8 percent of women think they’re at STD risk.

“i’m wondering if i should be more concerned about this,” Jessica wrote.

Yes! The number of documented STD cases in the U. S. was increasing significantly. And a new syphilis epidemic was spreading across the nation. If left untreated, syphilis, like HIV, can kill.

But Jessica had decided not to worry about STDs. “otherwise I would never sleep at night.”

And I kept my yes! and STD information to myself—that breach-of-professional-ethic thing again, letting her know I cared.


 

Suzy Spencer is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist.
  1. Allen Morris Reply
    There is a need to keep this message circulating throughout the public, especially to younger kids, who tend to think themselves invulnerable to diseases, accidents, and death.
    • Suzy Reply
      Yes, young people often consider themselves invincible, but older people often consider themselves not at risk for STDs and they ARE. STDs among senior citizens are sky-rocketing. In Florida alone, the STD rate among seniors is up 71%
  2. Angela Reply
    Amen Suzy! Bless you for writing this. When I was teaching for one of our local kinky mentoring groups one block of the material I covered concerned bloodborne pathogens and STDs. The final homework assignment was to research and write a paper about the 10 most common STDs and to do a personal risk anaylsis. The first year I taught this material almost everyone, regardless of how they played or with how many folks they played, listed themselves as low to no risk. That really alarmed me because I have worked for a public health department doing STD investigations i.e. interviewing folks for their sexual contacts in an effort to get them in for treatment and their partners in for testing and treatment. Trust me the diseases cut across all socio economic ethnic racial lines. So I know for a fact no one, unless they are totally celibate lifelong is at no risk and few folks are truly at low risk. To get back to my point I decided every year after that initial year that I taught that I would share the fact that I had contracted an STD in my 20s when I began in the swingers community and that as a result of being in that lifestyle for a few decades I have had approximately 200+ sex partners in my lifetime. I challenged each person in that class to be brutually honest with themselves and do a realistic risk analysis and to continue to do that risk analysis so long as they are sexually active. Guess you can tell this is topic close to my heart. I contribute the appalling ignorance about STDs to many things; among them the idea that there is a pill for every disease so no big deal if you get infected (not true!), STDs only happen to dirty people (not true), STDs only happen when you are young (extremely not true) and it is too embarassing to ask someone if they have ever been tested, much less treated, for an STD. Really? if we are going to be engaged in bondage, flogging, fire play, possible temporary piercings in a public dungeon with onlookers asking a simple health question is embarrasing? What is embarassing is having to tell your partner(s) you slipped up about doing your due diligence and now they need to go get tested and treated....and their partners do too. OK rant over I promise :-).
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Angela. And if readers don't believe you and me re STD/STI risks, I encourage them to read the statistical data provided by Salon sex writer Tracy Clark-Flory. Here's the link to her article.
  3. lori braun Reply
    Suzy, Thank you! As a mother of 13 & 11 year-old daughters there can't be enough education out there. It's all preventable—that, they need to know! Best, Lori

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