Why is the whiptail lizard, the state reptile of New Mexico, never at risk for getting an STD (sexually transmitted disease)? Because it reproduces asexually through a process called parthenogenesis: an unfertilized egg can produce an offspring.
But for us folks who have partnered sex, the extra bit of fun comes with the risk of transmitting a virus or bacteria during the act. That risk is particularly present for young adults; they're most likely to get and spread any STD.
One of the easiest STDs to catch is chlamydia, a bacterial infection affecting more than 1.8 million North Americans. Unfortunately, around 400,000 folks don't know they have the disease and are sharing it. That's because it doesn't always cause symptoms. But when it does, they include abnormal discharge, swelling of and around the genitals, and a burning feeling while urinating. The infection rate is 6.4 percent among sexually active girls ages 14-19 (that's the most affected demographic); boys that age have an infection rate of 2.4 percent.
Untreated chlamydia is potentially damaging: It can cause sterility in men and infertility in women, and if contracted while pregnant can trigger premature birth or during delivery pass along an eye infection or pneumonia to the newborn. The good news is that it's easy to prevent (use latex condoms) and treat (it responds well to antibiotics). So ask your doctor or gynecologist for a checkup, and always use a condom unless you know that you and your partner are free of all STDs.
© King Features Syndicate