Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Study suggests over-the-counter contraception raises STD rates

Medical health professionals have long been pushing for over-the-counter contraceptives, like Plan B, to become more readily available to the general public. However, a recent study found that the availability of such medications has no real effect on reducing abortion or pregnancy rates. According to The Guardian Express Newspaper, a study conducted by Christine Piette Durrance, Ph.D of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has found that free emergency contraception also increases sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the areas where it is offered.

By examining data collected from areas of the United States that offer emergency contraception, Durrance compared STD and pregnancy rates before and after these policies went into effect. According to, after these forms of contraception were offered, there was a significant statistical increases in STDs - especially gonorrhea.

Many scientists theorize that with a reliable method of preventing unwanted pregnancies, some individuals will resort to a behavior called risk compensation, the news source reports. Simply put, with one of the largest inherent risks of sexual activity removed, namely an unwanted pregnancy or abortion, some individuals will behave more recklessly. Of course, with STD rates climbing continuously over the past several years, this can lead to life-altering consequences.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 19 million new STD infections each year and nearly half of these cases are contracted by individuals between the ages of 15 and 24.

While the emergency contraception method does work in theory, the study highlights yet again that proper sexual health education in tandem with regular STD testing are the only true reliable ways to reduce STD rates and encourage sexually active individuals to use protection every time they are intimate with another person.