There may be a link between swiping right and getting the clap. Sexual health experts in the United Kingdom are blaming so-called hook-up apps like Tinder and Grindr for soaring rates of STDs like gonorrhea.
“You don’t have to be a genius to work out that these sorts of apps make having casual sex a damn sight easier,” Peter Greenhouse of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV told the Daily Mail. “You can find, down to a meter or two, the nearest available person who is interested. This is something that just hasn’t been available before.”
Millions of people are using location-based matchmaking apps, which some doctors suspect may be fueling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Between 2012 and 2013, gonorrhea rates in England jumped 15%, while syphilis cases increased by 9%. “Thanks to Grindr or Tinder, you can acquire chlamydia in five minutes,” Greenhouse said.
STD rates are rising on this side of the pond, too. In 2012, gonorrhea cases in the U.S. increased by 4%, and syphilis went up by 11%. That same year, there were a record high 1.4 million cases of chlamydia reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The organization recently released a study estimating that 5% of young women are now infected with the disease.
A 2014 study by the Los Angeles LGBT Center directly connected mobile apps to STDs. The researchers found that gay and bisexual men who met their partners through apps such as Grindr and Scruff had a 25% greater chance of being infected with gonorrhea and 37% greater odds of getting chlamydia.
Those two diseases are particularly concerning for women since they typically don’t cause noticeable symptoms and, left untreated, can have serious consequences for reproductive health. The CDC estimates that undiagnosed STDs cause 24,000 American women to become infertile each year.
No matter how you choose to date, it’s a good idea to get screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia regularly. Last September, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all sexually active women do so.