First author Dr. Mary A. Ott of the Indiana University School of Medicine said diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease was associated with a reduced risk of subsequent sex for a short time. However, having an STD increased risk for sexual activity in the intermediate time period and was unrelated to the decision to have sex in the long run.
The study authors hypothesize that the switch may reflect either relationship turmoil after diagnosis of an STD, followed by "make up" sex, or may reflect adherence to Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for a period of abstinence following STD treatment, followed by resumption of previous sexual activity.
"Either way, the findings suggest that counseling only about abstinence after a sexually transmitted infection is insufficient" Ott says in a statement. "Clinicians should anticipate resumption of sexual behavior and tailor counseling appropriately."
The study, published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, involved 354 sexually active teen girls ages 14-17 from 1999-2006 and not pregnant when they enrolled. Sexual experience was not an inclusion criterion, but 81 percent of participants were sexually experienced at enrollment; most of the others had their first sexual experience during the study period.
Participants reported a total of 9,236 abstinence periods, which averaged 31 days, the study said.