Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have skyrocketed in Spain. They have grown a lot and in a very short time, and they have not increased by 25% or 50%, but by 1000%! A figure that seems impossible. But it’s real. These are official data, which appear in the epidemiological surveillance records. A study prepared by the women’s health platform Bloom has just put them on the table and has also investigated why, looking for the answer to these questions: what is it due to? What do women know about their sexual health? What experiences have those who have been infected experienced? and, above all, what are we doing wrong?, explains Andrea Aznar, editorial director of Bloom.
The project has the support of Dexeus Mujer and its objective is to warn about this problem and reinforce prevention, so we applaud the initiative!
According to this report, called ” Bloom Observatory: STIs in women in Spain “, STIs have increased especially among the youngest, since 50% of cases are diagnosed in children under 24 years of age. But they have also grown in those of 30, 40, 50 and those over 55 years of age.
Experts have been sounding the alarm for some time and ensure that the figure is even higher, especially among men,” because 50% of these infections are asymptomatic, so if controls are not carried out they can go unnoticed, and they go less to have revisions”, explains Dr. Álvaro Vives , head of the Sexually Transmitted Infections Unit of the Puigvert clinic, who has participated in the presentation of the Report.
In recent years, in addition, risk practices, the number of couples, and contacts to maintain relationships through applications have increased. This, added to the improvement in diagnostic tests and the fact that, in general, more people travel also explain the increase.
In addition, very little is said about STIs. Who has them or has suffered them, does not count. And those who have not had them do not even consider that they could become infected, nor are they aware of the health problems that they can cause. Because? Well, because since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection can be treated, fear of contagion has been decreasing, and in parallel protection measures have been relaxing.
Another reason that explains the increase is the lack of sexual education. Bloom has carried out a survey of more than 2,000 women to find out their sexual habits, and the results speak for themselves: 70% admit that their sexual education has been deficient (regular, bad or very bad); one in three indicates that they have been pressured not to use condoms and a third affirm that, in addition, they tend to relax the use of this method when they drink. Likewise, 30% have exchanged sex toys with their partner without protection and more than 10% declare that they have removed the condom without their consent (14.40%), that they have practiced group sex (11.13%) or Chemsex (10.89%).
On the other hand, and from what we see in the consultation, although young women have information, explains Dr. Alicia Úbeda , head of the Gynecology Service at Dexeus Mujer, many feel immune, they believe that they are above it and that It won’t happen to them, because it hasn’t happened to their friends.”
But the STIs are there. They continue to grow, and, although not everyone knows it, “contracting an STI (only the infection) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and not treating and diagnosing it on time does involve health risks,” adds Dr. .Úbeda. “It can cause menstrual disorders and pelvic pain. Also, if it damages the inside of the uterus or the tubes, it can end up causing sterility or abortions. And in the case of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) it can cause lesions that favor the development of cancer. For this reason, we should not underestimate them. It is important to take preventive measures and have regular specific check-ups, especially if risky relationships have been maintained, she adds.
In addition, preadolescents are more sensitive to STIs, because their mucous membranes are not so prepared. In fact, “experts have been recommending the application of the HPV vaccine to boys for years – which is currently administered systematically in schools to girls between 11 and 12 years old -, since, in addition to cervical cancer, , vulva, and vagina, HPV can cause cancer of the penis, anus, mouth, and throat (oropharynx). The latter affect men more than women and have also experienced an increase, a fact that is partly attributed to the practice of unprotected oral sex”, explains Dr. Álvaro Vives. For this reason, the announcement That Catalonia has decided to include the HPV vaccine for boys in the official calendar “is very good news,” he adds.
Dr. Vives also directs the Men’s Health Unit at Dexeus Mujer, “where we have administered this vaccine to all young people and adults who request it for some time,” he adds. At Dexeus Mujer we also offer the HPV vaccine to all women who have not received it and we systematically screen all women under 25 years of age for chlamydia, since this STI is one of the most growing up among the young.
Anyway, we could continue talking about this topic at length, but the most important thing is to be well informed. If you have doubts, or want to have a check-up, consult your gynecologist, and do not wait, the sooner the diagnosis is made and treated, the better.