Though sex is all fun and games for some modern millennials, the risks of casual hook-ups still remain. And perhaps, according to a new study, the major popularity of swiping dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and more may be linked to an increase in sexually-transmitted infections, or STIs. Every year the Kirby Institute studies national health data in Australia, including anything related to private-part action.
Their findings may have you feeling a little squeamish.
Since 2014, chlamydia cases have grown by 13 percent, with three-fourths among the 15 to 29-year-old crowd. Other STIs have seen an uptick, too — with 28,000 reported diagnoses of gonorrhoea and more than 4,000 syphilis notifications.
Though it’s tough to exactly say what causes an increase in this phenomenon, attitude shift seems to have a bit to do with it. Swiping apps won’t cause you to break out in hives or have other symptoms, but they do give you easy, instant access to a wide variety of people. Some experts have noted that while in the past, you only would mingle with those in your inner friend circle or those in or around the watering hole in your neighborhood — now your options are endless. No matter if you’re swiping in your hometown or while on vacation, the option to hookup is a phone’s reach away.
Dating apps also propel a could-be relationship forward faster. Because you can text away in a conversation, you feel as if you know someone, when in reality, they’re a stranger. This false sense of security could entice you to hop into bed quicker than you would if you met someone offline. And since another study found adults aren’t wrapping it up as they should, flings can put you at risk for major health issues.
The moral of the story here isn’t to have less sex — but to be smarter about it. There is no shame in going all the way on date one if both parties are into it. However, practicing safe sex is always vital, no matter your age or experience. As couples therapist Dr. Sarah Schewitz explains, no one wants to deal with an STI for a month, half a year — or forever. “While many STDs can be treated with antibiotics, many can’t,” she continues. “if you contract herpes or genital warts during an unprotected sexual encounter, you are stuck with that for life. You will need to explain to all future partners that you have a contagious sexually transmitted disease before sleeping with them and many will not want to take the risk. Not to mention, having HIV is incredibly challenging and expensive and also lasts a lifetime.”
When in doubt? Dr. Schewitz says the easy solution to avoid all of this… is just use a condom.