So I know it's a bit late into cuffing season, but it is information worth repeating. Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, get yourself and your partner tested before being intimate. Getting tested does not mean you are a prude or high-maintenance. It means you are making sure to protect your body and health. Because the romance may fade, but the STIs can be forever.

Unless you get tested and treated!

Most people may not realize that STIs are in general quite treatable, typically through the administration of antibiotics. Some, however, like HIV, are not treatable and can be life-threatening. While the stigma surrounding many of these might make you hesitate before getting tested, remember that the outcomes will be significantly worse the longer you wait. The earlier an infection is caught, the easier it is to treat.

Syphilis, for example, can be cured with a course of antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can have major consequences later on. Congenital syphilis is a condition in which the infection is passed from a pregnant mother to her fetus. Rates of this condition are on the rise, with infants born with congenital syphilis at an increased risk for jaundice, brain problems, and even stillbirth or miscarriage. Syphilis is also associated with cognitive problems in adults who contract it.

Getting tested is not just about prevention. It can help you protect yourself and others. Some people might think that they only need to get help if they have clear and present symptoms, like pain, irritation, or bumps around the genital region. But STIs are tricky. Some of them can go days, months, or even years without having any visible side effects.

When those side effects do make an appearance, though, they manifest with a vengeance. Gonorrhea can result in debilitating pain while urinating, while chlamydia can lead to female infertility. However, even if you can't see them, you can still get infected or pass infections on.

Rates of STIs have been increasing in America, sparking no small panic. As to how they are spread, some (like oral herpes) can be transmitted by kissing. Others (like hepatitis B) are only transmitted through vaginal or anal sexual contact. But by practicing safe sex (i.e. wearing condoms, maintaining communication, getting tested with your partner), you can prevent and protect yourself and your loved ones.

Now, bring on the mistletoe!