Shocking new research has found that you can contract human papillomavirus (HPV) – the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) – without actually having sex at all.
You’ll be surprised and horrified by how you might actually get it, too.
HPV can be pretty harmless a lot of the time. In fact, there are around 150 strains of it and many aren’t dangerous. However, in some instances, the consequences can be serious, and you may develop genital warts or cervical cancer.
Until now, doctors believed that the practise of safe sex and regular trips to see a gynaecologist were enough to ward off the disease. But new research published in the medical journal, Sexual Health, has revealed that it can also be transmitted through non-penetrative sexual behaviours… and you can pick it up from places like the gym or your doctor’s office!
If that isn’t enough to make you refuse to sit down at the GPs or do another spin class again, I don’t know what is.
The finding came from an analysis of 51 studies on HPV transmission by researchers who discovered that the virus was found in the genital tracts of 51 per cent of female virgins.
This led them to ask how these women were contracting it if they weren’t having sex?
One possibility is through other types of genital contact. Even if women aren’t engaging in penetrative sex with their partner, they can get it from other forms of sexual contact or using sex toys. In fact, the researchers found that HPV DNA was found on vibrators that were used 24 hours AFTER they had been cleaned. Gross.
The other possibility is that it can be contracted by coming into contact with infected surfaces like the doctor’s office or the bike seat at the gym. If these places aren’t being properly cleaned and sterilised, the disease can be passed on.
The risk at the doctor’s office is probably substantially less than at the gym because diligent cleaning of examination surfaces and equipment is an expected infection control standard any medical practitioner must adhere to. But the gym… ugh. You’re often relying on policies that require patrons to mop off the equipment themselves using a towel after they’ve used it.
So if you wear teensy short shorts to the gym, you’re quite potentially at risk of your genital area coming into contact with an infected surface either on a bike seat, in the change rooms, in the sauna or anywhere else you might sit down!
Ditch the short shorts (you know, in favour of some other covering, don’t go naked) and always put a towel down before you sit on any surface at the gym.