You know what’s great? Walking out of the GP’s office with a clean bill of sexual health.
Because, look, even though it’s totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of if you do find yourself with an STD, it’s still nice to know that you’ve been rewarded for using protection and being a grown-up about the whole S-E-X thing.
Which is what you’re doing, right? Good.
Except there are a surprising number of ways you can pick up a little somethin’ somethin’ down there without actually doing any of the fun stuff.
1. Tanning Beds
First up, you definitely shouldn’t be using tanning beds to begin with; they’ve been banned from commercial solariums in every Australian state and territory barring the Northern Territory. But if you do find yourself in one, you might find you’ve got some company in the form of HPV. While it’s normally spread through skin-to-skin contact, the virus hangs out on different parts of your body – like your fingertips, for example – and can linger even after the infected party has left the booth.
Bonus points for molluscum contagiosum, a nasty little virus that creates “small round bumps with craters” on your skin. While it’s technically not an STD, it can be transmitted through intercourse, which is always fun to know!
2. Moist Towels
The word moist is already bad enough, but just wait, it gets worse. Dr Jennifer Wider, an expert in women’s health, told Marie Claire: “Sexually transmitted diseases are both viruses and bacteria, so they can live in environments that make them thrive.”
At which point we’d like to introduce your towel to a nasty little STD called trichomoniasis, which can get all up in your hoo-ha and lead to a not-very-nice discharge.
BYO towels from here on out, OK?
3. Lip balm
You may have suspected this one would be on the list thanks to your good mate, herpes. It’s worth pointing out that there are two different strains of the herp: herpes simplex type 1, which is oral, and herpes simplex type 2, for your genitals.
And while it is rare for STDs to survive for long on things that aren’t animal, slicking lip balm on your mouth from a tub moments after someone with a visible cold sore has just done the same can nail you.
(Actually, Dr Wider points out, even if someone isn’t exhibiting physical signs of a cold sore, they can still pass on the virus.)
Basically gift everyone you know with their own damn lip balm this Christmas.
Don.t Touch. Your Sister’s/ Dad’s/ Housemate’s razor. Just DON’T. Nicking your skin literally opens it up to infection, including whatever it is that’s hanging about on that borrowed razor. And that can be Hepatitis B.
5. used sex toys
Like, we’re not sure what situation you’d have to be in to be sharing your vibrator or butt plug or whatever with a total stranger (actually yes we do, you kinky sex party-goer you) but clean and sterilise that bad boy first. Apart from the fact that it’s been exactly where you’d expect to find any STDs, it can also pick up gross bacteria and germs just from hanging around in your bedside locker.
Top tip: If it’s not electrical/ battery operated, chuck it in the dishwasher (after checking it’s safe to do so, please). Just make sure you’re the one unloading that particular cycle, yeah?
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