Episode 39: The Surprising Secrets of STDs

June 17, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast
Sex and Psychology Podcast
Episode 39: The Surprising Secrets of STDs

Is it really true that having a greater number of sexual partners necessarily means you have a greater risk for sexually transmitted infections (STDs)? Nope! It turns out that a lot of the things we think we know about STDs are just plain wrong, which is why this episode of the Sex and Psychology Podcast is all about the surprising secrets of STDs.

I interviewed Dr. Ina Park, an associate professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. She is also a Medical Consultant at the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC, and Medical Director of the California Prevention Training Center. She is author of the new book Strange Bedfellows: Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STDs.

Some of the topics we explore in this episode include:

  • The conventional wisdom is that STDs are caused by promiscuity—but is it really the case that having more partners necessarily translates to greater risk?
  • Is everyone equally vulnerable to STDs? Do some people have more natural immunity?
  • How does STD contact tracing work, and what kinds of reactions do people tend to have when a contact tracer informs them that they might have an STD?
  • Potential contestants on The Bachelor are screened for STDs before coming on the show, and a positive result is the most common reason for disqualification; however, a lot of people receive false positives because certain tests have low accuracy rates. So is this a good idea or a bad idea?
  • Can an STD really ‘highjack’ your brain and change your sexual behavior to facilitate viral transmission?
  • How do our constantly evolving sexual practices affect STDs?
  • What’s the connection between pubic hair grooming and STDs?
  • Are online dating apps responsible for increasing rates of STDs?
  • How do you have effective conversations with a sex or dating partner about STDs?

To learn more about Ina, visit her website at inapark.net and check out her new book Strange Bedfellows!


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Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.


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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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