Sexual Health Roundup: Chlamydia Rates Up, Kindergarten Sex Ed, and Sex for Your Headache


Chlamydia Rates Up for Women

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released 2011 data on chlamydia rates, and the news is not good, especially for women. The chlamydia rate for women has gone up 51 percent this decade, from 430 cases per 100,000 women in 2001 to 649 cases per 100,000 women in 2011. In some states (Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi), the chlamydia rate rose to more than 1,000 per 100,000 women. And even in states with lower chlamydia rates, the rates doubled or more over the last decade. Maine has the lowest chlamydia rate, with 316.8 cases per 100,000 women, but that is more than double its 2001 rate of 157.7 cases per 100,000 women. In New York, chlamydia rates rose even more (82 percent), from 388 cases per 100,000 women in 2001 to 705 cases per 100,000 women in 2011.

These increases are partly due to more widespread screening and better reporting; chlamydia is one of the few sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) that is reportable to the CDC. However, they also reflect a higher incidence of the infection itself.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, scarring of the fallopian tubes, and infertility. The good news is that research shows latex condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of chlamydia. The new rates suggest it may be time for some more education on preventing this common infection.  

Chicago Public Schools May Start Sex Education in Kindergarten

Chicago has the third largest school district in the United States. Currently, students in the city’s public schools start learning about sexuality in the fifth grade, but the school board is reviewing a proposal to start age-appropriate sexuality education in kindergarten. The move is in response to high rates of sexual activity among students as well as high rates of STIs and teen pregnancy in Cook County. 

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett supports the change, saying in a statement, “It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors, and relationships.”

If the changes go through, students in kindergarten through third grade will learn about their anatomy and appropriate and inappropriate touching and that all living things reproduce. Fourth graders will focus on puberty, HIV, and AIDS. Conversations about human reproduction, contraception, and abstinence will still not take place until after fifth grade.  

According to the local Fox affiliate, some parents are not happy about the change. “I don’t think it’s age appropriate. They have no concept of anything like that at that stage in life,” said one parent. “CPS shouldn’t take control of someone else’s children like that with our sex education. That’s how I feel,” said another.

Like in most school districts, parents will be able to opt out if they do not want their child to participate in sexuality education classes.

Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, which promotes sexuality education, said in a statement, “Advocates for Youth applauds the Chicago school district for recognizing the importance of providing young people with sequential, age-appropriate, and honest sex education. Thirty years of public health research shows that young people who receive this type of sex education are more likely to delay sexual initiation and to use contraception when they do have sex.”

The school board is set to vote this week. If the plan is approved, it will be go into effect in 2016. 

Yes Honey, Tonight: I Have a Headache

New research from neurologists in Germany suggests that having a headache may actually be a reason to have sex. Researchers sent an anonymous questionnaire to 800 individuals who had suffered from migraines and an additional 200 individuals who suffered from cluster headaches, a type of recurrent headache that is experienced on only one side of the head. They asked participants if they had ever had sex during a headache attack and what the result of that experience was.

The survey revealed that more than one-third of migraine sufferers had had sex during an attack. Of those, nearly two-thirds said they experienced some relief, and some reported complete relief as a result of sex. One-third of the individuals who had sex during a migraine, however, said it made symptoms worse.

Similarly, one-third of individuals suffering from cluster headaches said they had had sex during an attack. Among those, 37 percent said their symptoms improved, but 50 percent said they got worse. 

The researchers concluded that “sexual activity in the presence of headache is not an unusual behavior” and that “sex can abort migraine and cluster headache attacks, and sexual activity is used by some patients as acute headache treatment.”

So the next time you think of using your headache as a reason not to have sex, think again; maybe the sex can help.

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Follow Martha Kempner on twitter: @MarthaKempner