Numerous studies have documented that there is an annual spike in sexually transmitted diseases during Summer months. This week LetsGetChecked discusses the reasoning behind the rise in STDs during rising seasonal temperatures.


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Why Is There A Spike In STDs During Summer Months?


A study published in the journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases found a peak in infection rates during the summer months that coincided with an increase in the reported number of sexual partners.

The report aptly named “Summer Heat” studied data obtained from patients attending a Sexual Health clinic in Melbourne, Australia over a nine year period from 2006 to 2014.

Specifically, they looked at how diagnoses of STDs and patient’s reports of the number of partners they had in the past three months changed throughout the year.

Findings showed a seasonal pattern in STDs, with rates of certain sexually transmitted diseases revealed to be higher in the summer than they were in the winter.

The fluctuations crossed boundaries of both gender and sexual orientation: men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women and men who have sex with women all reported a higher number of recent partners, when they visited the clinic during the summer months compared to the winter months.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) had a higher probability of being diagnosed with urethral gonorrhea. While men who have sex with women had higher odds of being diagnosed with non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU): an infection of the urethra most commonly caused by chlamydia. It is more common for men to experience symptoms of related to sexually transmitted diseases than women.


What Is Some Of The Reasoning Behind A Higher Prevalence Of STDs During Summer Months?


Research shows that there is a spike in STIs during festival season. Festival goers need to be aware of the higher risks they face at these events and take the proper precautions to stay safe.

Vice President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, Rory O’Donnell, says “Music festivals and sports events are generally linked to higher than normal incidents of unprotected sex and we would often note a rise in requests for the morning after pill after such events.”

This isn’t too surprising. Festivals are hotbed of hormones, especially after soaking up the rays and contents of the beer tent in equal measure. Fans who attend typically go for good music and a good time but you certainly don’t want to bring home something much worse than a hangover and some sunburn.

A study by Eurosurveillance concluded that the spike in STIs during festival season go largely unnoticed and under-reported by those who get infected. Why? One major reason is that you can’t tell who’s got an STI just by looking at them. Many STIs are symptomless. So most people think they are fine afterwards.

The most common STDs are gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B and C and, in the worst case scenario, HIV. Remember to take necessary precautions and always use a condom.


What Is The Most Common STD During Summer Months?


As noted by the study, diagnoses of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease peaked in Autumn in women. PID is most commonly caused by untreated cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. The peak in autumn diagnoses of PID is therefore consistent with higher rates of contracting these infections in the summer.

What accounts for seasonal difference in sexual behaviour? Researchers believe seasonal changes in sex drive are thanks to increased social opportunities for sex.


Does Summer Increase Your Sex Drive?


According to Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School, the sun tends to make people more interested in sex because it boosts their mood.

“Sunlight has been shown to have an association with serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in the ability to experience pleasure” she told Glamour Magazine. “In addition everyone’s wearing less clothing, sex might be on our brains more than usual”

Sunny days and the long stretch in the evenings, also lead to more time spent socializing at summer events such as festivals, providing increased opportunities for sex. Furthermore, summer is a time that people take more trips abroad and often engage in holiday romances, with research documenting links between casual sex and holidays.

Regardless of the reason for this increase in sexual partners and STIs, these findings suggest that public health efforts to promote safer sex may be used to greater effect around the summer months rather than at other times of year.


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Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley