STD rates reach a record high—here’s how to stay safe

By Erich Bunch for Well+Good

The mere mention of the acronym “STD” is scary enough to have even the lowest-risk individuals running to their doctors for confirmation that all is well down there. 

This is likely the intended consequence of the terrifying billboards I’ve been seeing all over Los Angeles, screaming (quite graphically, too) about syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. There’s a very good reason they’ve been cropping up as of late—reported STD cases have reached record highs in California. Last year, 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis were reported, which is a whopping 45 percent increase in the last five years. (Deletes all dating apps while googling “convent life.”)

California’s not the only place in trouble, however; the Center for Disease Prevention and Control says the United States is experiencing what it calls an STI (sexually-transmitted infection) epidemic. Reported cases nationwide of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis were the highest ever on record in 2016.

So, how do you stay safe without actually taking a vow of chastity? After all, sex is good for you. Below, experts weigh in on how to go above and beyond the condom.