Affairs and STDs

You often hear people talk about the psychological issues they suffer after finding out a spouse has had an affair (namely lack of trust), and there’s the other kind of fallout that manifests (counseling and divorce), but what about the health issues? How many affairs result in the contraction of an STD?

Perhaps it’s a weird thing to wonder about. (Then again, I’m prone to that. “How Do Monkeys Keep Their Nails Clipped?” is proof.) But there you have it, I’m wondering about it.

I blame Wayne. Not because he cheated and gave me an STD, but because of his fascination with the show Cheaters.

But it’s not just that show. Cheating is everywhere. It’s the basis of lots of other talk shows. It’s in movies and TV shows. It happens. (Or is allowed to happen I should say. It’s not like a car accident. No one has ever said “Whoops, I’m sorry honey. I was unfaithful today. I tried to avoid it but I couldn’t it.)

So I went in search of some data. Either I’m not as good at hounding out facts as I thought, or there truly isn’t any real data on this.

There’s plenty of data on both topics separately, though (cheating and STDS). Let’s look at those.


Research varies on the estimated number of married people who either have cheated or will during their relationship. It’s as low as 30% and as high as 60%.

Um, 30 points is a big gap and I’m not sure what’s defined as cheating. Full blown sexual encounters, Internet-only infidelity, or kissing without intercourse? I imagine the numbers are going to vary once you start to define “cheating.”


In a STD Surveillance Report released by the CDC in 2006 (the most recent on the site) “substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years.”

However, 19 million new cases are diagnosed each year (half in people ages 15-24), a number that’s up from years past.

Chlamydia’s the most common STD. There was an increase of cases reported in 2006.

The national rate of reported chlamydia in 2006 was 347.8 cases per 100,000 population, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2005 (329.4). ~-CDC 2006 STD Surveillance Report-~

Gonorrhea is second most common. It had dropped but has since seen a reemergence of cases, particularly in the South and the West.

Following a 74 percent decline in the rate of reported gonorrhea from 1975 through 1997, overall gonorrhea rates plateaued, then increased for the past two years. In 2006, the gonorrhea rate was 120.9 cases per 100,000 population, an increase of 5.5 percent since 2005 and an increase for the second consecutive year. ~-CDC 2006 STD Surveillance Report-~

Syphilis reached an all-time low in 2000, but the rate increased each year thereafter.

Between 2005 and 2006, the national P&S syphilis rate increased 13.8 percent, from 2.9 to 3.3 cases per 100,000 population, and the number of cases increased from 8,724 to 9,756. ~-CDC 2006 STD Surveillance Report-~

What Does It All Mean?

I don’t know. I still don’t know how common it is for STDs to result from affairs.

But I’d have to say it happens at least on occasion and adds a whole other layer to be dealt with. (One I’m hoping I never get first hand experience with!)

Courtney Mroch writes about animals great and small in Pets and the harmony and strife that encompasses married life in Marriage. For a full listing of her articles click here.

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