STDs, mental health risks ignored by students

Tulane University often advertises the illustrious nightlife of New Orleans but, for obvious reasons, chooses to not discuss the pervasive hookup culture it often entails. At our school, it is becoming increasingly rare to find people who are in relationships, and committed partners are categorized as endangered species. This refusal to commit has led to an interconnected system of exes and ghosted one night stands that hinders the social well-being of students. But the threat to students runs deeper than awkward moments with exes, and few student consider the health-related consequences of hookup culture.

Students run serious physical health risks when they participate in hookup culture. Sexual transmitted diseases have skyrocketed in comparison to other decades, leading to 20 million new cases of STDs every year, with a grand total of 110 million cases overall. This trend is due to an increase in casual and unsafe sex among two age populations. Holding the coveted first place is 15-24 year olds who contract roughly half of all new STDs, followed by the elderly.

Due to hookup culture, people are no longer practicing safe sex, or at the very least practicing it less often. This apathy is costing us $16 billion every year in treatment according to the CDC, meaning the U.S. spends more on treating HPV and Syphilis than the GDP of Nicaragua.

Beyond physical health, the effects of casual sex culture have been of great interest to psychologists since the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Today, the 21st century has produced a society where casual sex is not just an option, but the norm, which has considerable psychological implications for our society. This new reality impacts us emotionally, resulting in notable feelings of regret, loneliness, and, in the long run, depressive tendencies. These tendencies stem from a variety of factors that vary from performance anxiety to questioning of typical sexual preferences.

Additionally, this normalization of casual sex leads to a blasé attitude towards relationships, and thus people feel it is necessary to take the risk of intimacy. Young adults feel that, since there are so many possible options to choose from when it comes to choosing a mate, why not choose a short-term commitment and keep your options open for someone better?

With the possible risk of STDs, drama between friends and the constant debilitating feeling of exhaustion that comes from always having to try every time you want to have sex, it’s a wonder people still do it, no pun intended. After being confronted with these negative aspects of hookup culture, students like myself are left feeling like Harry in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” stating that “You just get tired of the whole thing.”

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