People often think that open relationships increase your risk of catching a disease — but actually, openly seeing other people is much safer than sneaking around, a new study proves. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that people in open relationships actually have less of a chance of getting an STD than ostensibly monogamous people who cheat on their partners. And the reason might very well have to do with drugs and alcohol.
Researchers from the University of Michigan found that condom use for vaginal and anal sex was 27% and 35% lower in sexually unfaithful relationships. They also discovered that drug and alcohol use was 64% higher during these illicit hook-ups.
To conduct the study, the UoM researchers posted an online advertisement, to which 1,647 people responded. Of these, 801 had sex with someone other than their partner, or nearly half. Analyzing this group, researchers discovered that 493 did so as part of a "negotiated non-monogamous relationship", while 308 admitted that they were sexually unfaithful while in a committed monogamous relationship. (And yes, that's a very small and possibly skewed sample size.)
In an issued press release, the lead author of the study, Terri D. Conley from the Department of Psychology at UoM, had this to say about the findings:
Monogamy can be an effective method for preventing the spread of STIs, but only if couples test negative for STIs at the start of the relationship and remain faithful while they are together. If people do not find monogamy appealing or feasible, they clearly need to think about the risk this poses to their partner and consider whether an open relationship would suit their needs better, and better protect their relationship partners.
Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of the journal, admitted that more work is needed to educate people about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. "This research is of particular interest because it reveals that monogamous relationships are not always monogamous which can have resultant sexual health implications," he said in the press release.
The study was published in the latest edition of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Image via Shutterstock.com/conrado.