There are two key draws to Reykjavík if the all-knowing Internet is to be believed: parties and promiscuity. Visitors to the city spew out paragraphs on their debauched nights and well-known travel resources like “Rough Guide” assert that Reykjavík has earned its “reputation for hedonistic revelry.” Reykjavík aside, Iceland as a whole has been ranked as one of the most promiscuous countries in the world, with natives first getting-it-on at 15-years-old and carving an average of 13 notches on their well-worn bedposts.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of the old in ‘n’ out, but with a population allegedly traceable within six coital degrees of everybody else – not to mention the tourists – maybe it’s wise to kill the mood momentarily for a run down of some the potentially unpleasant results of ye ol’ bump and grind.
Note that reading beyond this point, while a smart thing to do, will subject you to such words as ‘mucous’ and ‘discharge’ – not pleasant if you happen to be eating right now.
Chlamydia Me Later
Chlamydia, a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), is on the rise in Iceland, with thousands of new infections popping up in the past few years. Icelanders are not alone in their propensity for spreading Chlamydia: it is the most common STI in the world and has been called “the silent epidemic,” since so many people are unaware they’re even infected. That being the case, the number of people in Iceland with Chlamydia is likely more than the average, 1.827 newly diagnosed yearly since 2000. The symptoms for men and women include genital discharge and burning when you pee, and normally show up 1–3 weeks after doing the deed with an infected person. Since symptoms can disappear quickly and lay dormant for a long time, many people don’t even know they have the disease – not cool, since ignorance will lead to spreading it further and possible sterility.
Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah!
Gonorrhoea, a.k.a. ‘the clap,’ is another bacterial STI that, luckily, is on the decline in Iceland, after a peak of 31 new cases in 2006 alone (much higher than the 13 diagnosed cases per year national average from 2000–2007), but is still common and something you obviously want to avoid. It is spread through the contact of mucous membranes (e.g. bumping uglies) and, like Chlamydia, causes urethral discharge and can lead to sterility. The disease also thrives in the throat, rectum and eye (keep that last one in mind it you’re feeling particularly kinky). Symptoms show up a mere 3–5 days after being infected… if they show up at all: 20% of men and 50% of women infected never experience symptoms, but can still pass it along.
If you’re looking for some silver lining at this point, here you go: Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are both easily diagnosed with a urine sample or swab and are treatable with oral medication. This is not the case for all STI’s, so read on.
Not Just For Pornstars Anymore!
Genital warts, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), are exactly what the name implies: warts on the genitals. An unlucky 12% of Icelanders between the ages of 18 to 45 have or have had protuberance-covered nether regions. The warts usually sprout 1–3 months after contact with an infected partner and can grow in large bunches or remain smooth, making them harder to detect. Treatment for genital warts is more invasive, sometimes involving a chemical cream and other times requiring that the warts be burned off or frozen with nitrogen. If untreated, HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women.
How Do You Like My New Herpes?
Herpes is available in two styles – I and II. Herpes I, a.k.a. a cold sore, shows up on the face, primarily around the mouth; it is infectious and can be transferred to other areas of the body, via oral sex for example. Herpes II is the genital variety of the virus. Both are transferred through direct contact and both lead to red spots that blister, pop, ooze and scab (all painfully) within 2–20 days after infection occurs. There is no cure for herpes, so carriers will remain infectious and continue to experience symptoms intermittently. Forever. A not-so-fun fact: while stats on herpes are disputable, it has been estimated that up to 70% of Icelanders have the virus in some form. That’s a whole lotta herpes!
To Wrap it Up: Wrap it Up!
These are just four STI’s from a long list of sexually transmitted diseases and infections – other big names include hepatitis, crabs, syphilis and HIV/AIDS, more info on which can be procured from your friendly neighbourhood health care provider. In fact, if you fancy a swabbing, are looking for an excuse to pee in a cup or crave some peace of mind? Call up the Dermatology and Venereology Outpatient Ward at 543-6050. They’re conveniently located at Þverholt 18 for all your dermatological and venereological needs.
Has the mood sufficiently been killed? Sure, there are a lot of nasty things floating around that you don’t want to wind up with, but if you procure your jollies responsibly, by getting tested regularly and using protection every time you engage in a session of carnal aerobics, then, by all means, enjoy the hedonistic revelry that earned Reykjavík its ‘Bangkok of the North’ moniker.
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