Stacey Jacobs
CCE CONTRIBUTOR

If you live in Waterloo Region, October may mean one thing to you – Oktoberfest! Schnitzel, sausage,Onkel Hans and yes, drinking beer! Drinking beer and getting drunk frequently leads to sex, one nightstands and possibly unsafe sex – oh dear.

Sex should be fun and can be fun; unfortunately sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may put a damper on your fun times. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STI in Waterloo Region and accounts for over 75 per cent of STI cases annually, followed by gonorrhea. Locally, cases of both chlamydia and gonorrhea have been increasing steadily since 2009.

Often in my line of work I hear people brush off STIs as no big deal. They say things like, “I don’t care if I get an STI, I’ll just take the drugs.” The truth is, there are antibiotics available to treat chlamydia and gonorrhea, however, according to Public Health Ontario gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the currently prescribed antibiotic worldwide. This decreased susceptibility to drugs is more likely to be found in males. At present there is no other antibiotic to treat gonorrhea. This could mean that, if you contract gonorrhea, you might have gonorrhea for life.

To prevent contracting gonorrhea, it is important to use condoms. Not using a condom is one of the most common risk factors associated with contracting an STI. Judgement impaired by alcohol is also one of the top five known risk factors for contracting an STI in Waterloo Region.

Gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, ectopic pregnancies, chronic pelvic pain, painful urination and thick discharge from the penis or vagina. It may also show no symptoms at all; which often leads to no testing, no education and no treatment and therefore the spread of the
infection.

A simple condom can prevent the spread of STIs and prevent your fun times from turning into not so fun times. Carry many condoms with you in case there are problems putting it on or opening the package and make sure to use them. Never double up on condoms, wear one at a time and pinch the tip before
rolling it on to allow for room to catch the ejaculate. Condoms are free at many places in Waterloo Region including Public Health, Planned Parenthood and many places on the university campuses.

People often view STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, as a nuisance that can be cured. With gonorrhea becoming drug resistant, this complacency will have many repercussions. Education and awareness needs to increase in order to prevent gonorrhea and other STIs from increasing, and hopefully, lead
to a decrease in the spread of these infections. If sexually active, it is important to get tested.

So feel free to have fun this October, but do it with a clean bill of health and some condoms available. Get tested for STIs at: your physician’s office, Public Health (99 Regina Street, Waterloo 519.883.2267) or Health Services at your university.

Stacey Jacobs is the Community Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region (www.ppwr.on.ca) and has taught Sexuality classes at the University of Waterloo. She has a Master of Science from the University of Guelph and is thinking about completing a PhD.