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Multiple Drug Use Raises Infection Risk for 'Swinging' Couples

Researchers cite need for safe sex practices

FRIDAY, Oct. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Multiple drug use put couples who "swing" at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), a new study shows.

Swingers are defined as heterosexual couples who have group sex, swap partners and/or visit sex clubs for couples. Researchers looked at 289 people, average age 49, in the Netherlands who said they were swingers and visited an STD clinic between 2009 and 2012.

Half of the participants said they'd had six or more sex partners in the last six months, and had not used a condom during vaginal sex. More than half said they'd had group sex during the same time, and half of them did not use condoms.

One quarter of the men reported having sex with other male swingers in the last six months, according to the study published Oct. 23 in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Overall, rates of chlamydia and/or gonorrhea were 13 percent, but no other STDs were present among the participants.

The researchers found that 79 percent of the swingers said they used erectile dysfunction drugs and recreational drugs such as cocaine, LSD, methamphetamines, marijuana, laughing gas and alcohol, and that 46 percent reported multiple drug use.

Recreational drug use (other than alcohol and erectile dysfunction drugs) was associated with high-risk sexual behaviors in men and women, while drug use was only independently associated with STDs in female swingers, especially those who took part in group sex.

"Drug-using populations are a target for interventions that address the practice of safer sex along with secondary prevention of drug use," the researchers wrote.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

SOURCE: Sexually Transmitted Infections, news release, Oct. 23, 2014
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