Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections
STDs are scary and totally more prevalent than one might assume. ANYONE who chooses not to use a latex or polyurethane condom with Oral, Genital, and Anal sex is susceptible to an STD. If you're in a relationship, make sure you and your partner get checked before you get intimate.
Consequences of STDs (sometimes called venereal diseases) range from small things like painful urination all the way to Cancer.
Some of the most common warning signs are:
For women: Bleeding or unusual discharge from the vagina even when they don't have their period. They may also experience a burning or itching sensation in their vaginal area and pain during sexual intercourse.
For men: A discharge from their penis and pain or a burning sensation when urinating.
For both sexes: Sores; skin rashes; unusual swelling or blisters around their mouth or their genital area; flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and fatigue; aching and/or inflammation of the joints; a sore or swollen throat.
The Most Common STDs:
The most common of all STDs, Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted by vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Symptoms include pain during urination and soreness of the throat, liver, upper abdomen, back, and shoulders about two to three weeks after being contracted. Infected men may also notice a whitish discharge from their urethra. In about 40 per cent of cases, women will develop pelvic inflammatory disease, a major cause of infertility and birth defects. Having Chlamydia also increases a person's risk of contracting HIV.
The second most common STD, Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection passed through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. In males, it usually causes a yellow discharge from the urethra; in females, there are often no symptoms. If left untreated, gonorrhea can negatively affect the liver, throat, skin, joints, blood, and brain, as well as cause severe birth defects in children born to infected women.
A chronic viral infection, the herpes simplex virus actually comes in two types: HSV-1, which typically causes the oral form of the disease; and HSV-2, which typically causes genital herpes. In many cases, the virus will lie dormant and those infected may not even realize they have it until some stressor causes the illness to flare up again. In its active state, herpes will cause sores or blisters around the genital area, painful urination, discharge, and itching, and fever and fatigue.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
The most deadly of all STDs, HIV is the viral infection linked to AIDS, which causes the body's immune system to shut down. In most cases, HIV is transmitted through vaginal or anal sex, although any form of contact with infected blood can also spread the virus.
Human papilloma virus (HPV)
There are actually more than 100 different forms of this virus, about 30 of which can cause genital warts. These warts, in turn, have been identified as the leading risk factor for cervical cancer.
At one time, syphilis was the world's most common and deadly STD and still remains highly dangerous. People with syphilis may experience permanent damage to their heart and central nervous system, as well as increased risk of contracting HIV. Forty per cent of children born to mothers who are infected and have not undergone treatment will die or struggle with lifelong health problems. Syphilis can be transmitted through simple kissing, as well as by oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Its main symptom is the appearance of a painless sore (chancre) in the genital region, which usually disappears after a few weeks.
Ways you can PREVENT an STD:
The single best way to avoid contracting an STD is to not engage in sex until you're in a monogamous, fully committed relationship.
Barring that, you need to know your partner's sexual health status. Some STDs can be transmitted by non-sexual routes (e.g., HIV can be acquired by injection drug users through contaminated needles), so even if your partner hasn'tÕt had sex with an infected person, it is still possible they may have an STD.
Condoms are the only form of contraception proven to reduce the risk of contracting an STD. If used correctly, they can help to protect against the transmission of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis and, to a lesser extent, genital herpes. They are not, however, a fail-safe method.
Women can now take a vaccine to prevent them from becoming infected by HPV. Vaccines are also available for hepatitis A and B, which can be transmitted by sexual intercourse, as well as by other non-sexual routes.