Anyone sexually active is at a risk of contracting an STD. Taking precautions, educating yourself and learning when it’s time to separate myth from reality is a first step toward reducing that risk no matter your age or social demographic.

Is there a correlation between dating apps and STDs?

Are you more susceptible to contracting an STD from someone you meet online? Not necessarily, though the prevalent use of social media sites and apps certainly has an impact on the number of people you ‘meet’ in the virtual world. Just like traditional dating, a person using a dating app is just as likely to be prey to those seeking hook-ups, one night stands or short-term relationships. Regardless of how you meet someone, you have to be able to trust your partner to be telling you the truth about his or her STD status. There is no doubt that you’ll find apps out there (Grindr, OkCupid, Tinder, etc.) designed for quick hook-ups and sexual partners. Statistics show that the more partners a person has, the increased risk of contracting an STD. A steady rise in certain STDs (including syphilis and HIV) has been reported by the CDC, along with an alarming rise of HIV. While finding a partner may be easier with dating apps, always use caution and common sense.

T. pallidum image/CDC

What about the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and STDs?

National statistics do report an increase in STDs and diagnoses of HIV in the LGBT community, and these statistics warn that homosexual men have an increased risk of contracting or sharing an STD with their partner/s. Regardless of sexual orientation, indiscriminate or casual sex with multiple partners will naturally increase a person’s risk of contracting STDs and/or HIV. Social media, dating apps and online websites such as Craigslist have made these LGBT hookups easier than ever before. According to a 2014 report by the CDC, male homosexuals accounted for approximately 83% of both primary as well as secondary syphilis in the US. The report also stated that the LGBT community is at an increased risk for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

Do HPV vaccinations prevent STDs?

Human Papillomavirus, more commonly known as HPV, is one of the most commonly contracted forms of sexually transmitted infection (STI), hence its name. Many people mistake HPV with the herpes simplex virus (simply herpes or HSV), as well as human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. A person can have more than one type of HPV. This infection can be spread through penetrating (vaginal or anal) as well as oral sex with someone who has the viral infection. In some cases, HPV resolves on its own without treatment and other times doesn’t, which can contribute to long-term health issues including some genital cancers and cancers of the mouth and throat.

Unfortunately, there is no approved HPV test to determine status, although an HPV test is often recommended in cervical cancer screenings in women 30+ years of age. The vaccination is effective in protecting men and women against HPV caused diseases.  Recommendations for vaccination start at approximately 12 years of age for males and females. If not given at an earlier age, vaccines for females can be given through 26 years of age and males through 21 years of age. Bisexual and gay men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, should get vaccinated through 26 years of age.

As of 2014, approximately 79 million Americans have been infected with the HPV virus, with nearly 14 million new infections every year. Individuals experiencing health problems that include genital warts and cervical cancer are about the only way that experts can estimate these figures.

Can hygiene or dietary habits increase risk of STDs?

If you shower every day and take care of hygiene and personal cleanliness, are you protected against an STD? While it certainly can’t hurt and it’s common sense not to share razor blades, toothbrushes, needles, or syringes, the possibility of contracting an STD from someone’s sheets, towels, or clothing is still a possibility.

What about your diet? Is there anything you can eat or any foods you should avoid in order to reduce the risk of contracting an STD? No. Of course, a healthy and balanced diet will help boost immune system function, but it can’t prevent you from contracting an STD.  


Are women who have just given birth more susceptible to STDs?

Because of anatomy, women are more susceptible to contracting STDs than men. Interestingly, teenage girls have fewer antibodies to fight against STDs and also have an increased risk of developing cervical infections. In addition, mucosal surfaces that can be exposed to bacterial, fungal, or viral STDs are larger in women than men. However, there is little scientific data that indicates a woman who has recently given birth is more susceptible to contracting an STD than another, and they are just as likely to pass on an STD to a partner, or even their child prior to, during, or post-delivery. Unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners are the most common cause of STD contraction before, during, and post-pregnancy.   

Can I contract an STD without having sex?

The simple answer is yes. Herpes (Type 1 or Type 2) can be spread skin-to-skin or through “indirect” contact without sexual intercourse. Kissing and forms of oral sex are highly conducive to transmitting gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes. So too can sharing personal hygiene products or towels or clothing that have been exposed to infected areas of the body. This is more common with Trichomoniasis, which prefers warm, moist environments.


Remember, anyone sexually active is at risk of developing an STD. Some situations can make a person more susceptible, but discretion, protection, and monogamous relationships can reduce these risks. Be aware of the short-term as well as long-term ramifications of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease or infection; not only for yourself, but for current and future partners.

Be aware that some STDs are asymptomatic, so you may not even know you have an infection or a disease unless you’re specifically tested for one. The best way to protect yourself from an STD? Avoid sex and get tested regularly. STD testing in Brooklyn is now easier than ever. Make sure you’re tested regularly to avoid the danger in the first place.

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Alan Guttmacher Institute. Sex and America’s Teenagers.  New York, NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994.

Author Bio: Aiden Spencer is a health care researcher and writer who focus on various engaging and informative topics related to the healthcare industry. You can get in touch with him on Twitter: @AidenSpencer15