IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Wearing a condom is critical to helping you stay STI-free.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STIs in the military.
- Soldiers who do not disclose a pre-existing STI and test positive may be disqualified from the military.
You know the drill: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are usually spread through unprotected sex. As long as everything looks normal down there, you can assume you’re in the clear, right?
Not so fast. Some of the most common STIs often don’t show any symptoms but can do permanent damage to your health (not to mention love life) if they’re not treated early.
If any of these warning signs sound familiar, book it to your doctor’s office, pronto. The side effects of STIs can last a lifetime.
1. YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TESTED
The two most common STIs passed around the military—chlamydia and gonorrhea—often have no symptoms. This means that many people don’t even know they are infected and may unknowingly spread the disease to their sexual partners. If these STIs go untreated, they can lead to infertility, pain during urination and ejaculation, and other significant health problems. Get tested at least once a year.
How to Get Tested
TRICARE offers free, confidential STI testing, treatment, and counseling at most military treatment facilities. Contact your primary care provider to set up an appointment. You can also get tested through civilian public health departments. Find the nearest STI testing center online. Look for the “Find Your Local Testing Center” box and enter your zip code for information near you.
2. YOU DIDN’T WEAR A CONDOM
Getting caught up in the moment without protection drastically increases your chances of getting an STI. STIs can lead to serious repercussions in your military career and health.
Soldiers who lie about a pre-existing STI and test positive for HPV, HIV, or untreated genital herpes may be disqualified from the military or passed up for a promotion.
Unprotected sex is a high stakes game you don’t want to play. The good news is wearing a condom cuts your risk of contracting an STI by up to 92 percent. Be smart—wrap it up.
3. YOU HAVE LOTS OF SEXUAL PARTNERS
If you enjoy keeping your options open in the bedroom, consider this: the more sexual partners you have, the greater the likelihood of getting an STI. Each person you sleep with brings their own sexual history to bed with you. That adds up fast if you have multiple sexual partners.
Opt for a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested (and treated, if necessary) for STIs to lower the risk of catching a love bug. Even if you have multiple partners, you can minimize the risk by having the STI talk with your current sexual partner.
If these warning signs describe your sex life, schedule an appointment to get tested.
If you’ve been tested, schedule annual screenings and use protection during every sexual encounter to lower your chances of catching an STI.
- Learn more about STI prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Adopt these five habits of safe sexperts to protect yourself from STIs.