One night stands: What’s my risk of getting an STD?

One night stands: What’s my risk of getting an STD?

Getting an STD is scary. But what if I told you your chances of getting one are lower than you think?

Are you worried that a one-time dalliance may have left you exposed to an STD? You are not alone!

After a night of passion, reality usually comes flooding in with all the what-ifs. The anxiety associated with contracting an STD is no joke. If you find yourself unable to eat, sleep or focus at work or school, you may be worrying excessively about your exposure to STDs. However, you may be surprised to know that the risk of contracting an STD is not as high as you may imagine. 

In our experience, the best way to put our fears to rest is with accurate information, so I’m here to educate you guys on the chances of getting an STD through a one night stand. So, keep reading to learn more about STDs and how easy or difficult it is for a guy to get one! 

*Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging promiscuity or unprotected sex. All information in this article is just for educational purposes.

Let’s discuss a few possible STDs you can get from unprotected sex. 


HIV

It’s actually harder to contractHIV than you think!

Of course, when you think of the scariest sexually transmitted disease (STD), HIV is the first that comes to mind and with good reason. There is no cure for HIV… yet. So, it is understandable that you would worry whether your moment of indiscretion could have put you at risk for contracting an STD.

Here are some global statistics from the CDC that can give you a better picture. In 2018, 1.7 million new HIV cases were reported. There are approximately 37.9 million people living with HIV worldwide.

With that said, there are also certain areas of the world where the infection rate is higher. According to the CDC, Sub-Saharan Africa is the area most affected by HIV and AIDS. HIV rates are also noteworthy in the Caribbean, Central Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.

The above statistics I provided may sound astronomical, but compared to the world’s population, the risk of contracting HIV is actually low.

Some figures of risk of HIV transmission from CDC includes:

  • Needle stick injury: 23 per 10000 
  • Anal intercourse :138 per 10000 
  • Vaginal Intercourse: 8 per 10000

Despite the low figures, It is also proven that the majority of people who contract HIV have a pattern of risky behavior.

Here are some examples of what is considered risky:

  • Sharing needles
  • Unprotected Sex 

The good news is that oral sex, spitting, scratching and sharing of sex toys carry negligible risk.

However, should you feel that you might have been in a risky situation, you may consider a rapid HIV test which gives you a result in minutes for a peace of mind. 

While I am hoping to help those out there deal with the crippling and potentially debilitating anxiety associated with testing for HIV, you should by no means eliminate the practice of safe and protected sex. Most STDs can be treated or cured. 

Even if you have been exposed to an STD, it is more than likely that you can be treated.


Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most contracted STDs. It is caused by a bacterial infection. Some people exhibit no symptoms whatsoever.

However, if you are experiencing any of the following you should seek medical help immediately

  • Swollen testicles
  • Painful urination
  • Irregular penile discharge

If your chlamydia has been contracted via rectal contact there may be rectal pain, bleeding and/or discharge.

Thankfully, chlamydia can be treated by a course of antibiotics. All you need to do is take the full course and refrain from having sex during your treatment. The infection can be cured completely once you use the medication as directed. While the risk of infection is fairly high, you can make a complete recovery.

Will chlamydia just go away if I ignore it?

No. Bad idea. If you suspect that you have chlamydia you should seek medical attention. Chlamydia left untreated can lead to infertility.


Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is another STD caused by bacteria. From what I’ve seen, men may take between a week to a month to develop visible symptoms.

If you have contracted gonorrhoea, you may experience any of the following:

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Unpleasant penile discharge. It may vary in colour (beige, yellow and greenish)
  • Redness at the tip of the penis
  • Swelling at the tip of the penis
  • Swollen/painful testicles
  • Sore throat

Fortunately, antibiotics can cure gonorrhoea completely — so do not put off making an appointment to have yourself treated if you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above.

Yes, we know that having an STD can be embarrassing, but getting your health back on track is more important.

Untreated gonorrhoea can cause scarring of the urethra in men and or painful abscess inside the penis. Both can adversely affect your fertility and your overall health.

Deciding to get help is the responsible and brave thing to do!


Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria. It can be tricky to diagnose and can stay hidden in your body for years with nary a hint. This can be problematic since the infection can cause damage to your brain or heart.

Syphilis, when it finally rears its ugly head, appears as a small sore on your penis. This sore is called a chancre. Syphilis is spread when you come into direct contact with these chancres.

There are four stages of syphilis. When syphilis is diagnosed early (first or second stages) it can be treated with penicillin. If you are allergic to penicillin, your doctor will treat you with equally effective antibiotics.


Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV). While there is no cure for genital warts, they can be effectively treated. Genital warts can be removed from your penis and groin area by a variety of techniques namely, creams, freezing or surgery.

What you need to bear in mind is that there is a solution.


What about serious incurable STDs?

While I want to reassure you, it is also my job to give you solid information.

Herpes and Hepatitis are both incurable STDs.

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, where sores appear on the genitals. They can be painful and itchy during a flare, but they eventually crust over and heal.

While herpes never goes away it can be managed by antiviral drugs and over the counter creams to help with the pain and itching.

Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis b virus. It is a serious condition and if it becomes chronic it can affect your liver.

Symptoms include:

  • Joint Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever

As with most diseases, the sooner you get treatment the better. Treatment includes a vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin shot. If not treated in time, Hepatitis can seriously affect your quality of life. You may have to make lifestyle changes to preserve your health.


What should you do next time?

While the statistics show that the likelihood of contracting an STD is relatively low, I encourage you to protect yourself during your sexual encounters. Always use protection. I also recommend that you get tested frequently. Nothing restores your peace of mind like a negative test. 

While purpose of this article is to quell STD anxiety that can be overwhelming, it should in no way minimize the importance of protected sex or discourage monogamous relationships. 

Responsible sexual behaviour keeps both you and your partner safe from STDs.


References 

  1. Unemo M, Bradshaw CS, Hocking JS, de Vries HJC, Francis SC, Mabey D, Marrazzo JM, Sonder GJB, Schwebke JR, Hoornenborg E, Peeling RW, Philip SS, Low N, Fairley CK. Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 Aug;17(8):e235-e279. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30310-9. Epub 2017 Jul 9. PMID: 28701272
  2. Rowley J, Vander Hoorn S, Korenromp E, Low N, Unemo M, Abu-Raddad LJ, Chico RM, Smolak A, Newman L, Gottlieb S, Thwin SS, Broutet N, Taylor MM. Bull World Health Organ. 2019 Aug 1;97(8):548-562P. doi: 10.2471/BLT.18.228486. Epub 2019 Jun 6. PMID: 3138407

This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 17/05/2021