Having an active sex life is fun and enjoyable, but it comes with some risks. If you are not careful, you can contract a sexually transmitted disease or STD that can impair your sexual health. What can you do to protect against STDs?
Overview of sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are diseases or infections that are usually acquired via sexual contact. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or other microorganisms that can be transmitted from one person to another through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and other bodily fluids.
In some cases, they can be passed on non-sexually, like from a pregnant woman to her child during her pregnancy or upon delivery of the baby, or through shared use of needles or blood transfusions.
Examples of STD myths
Knowing important facts about STDs is one of the essential things that can help you prevent them. You should not automatically believe things that you read online or hear from other people. You should take the time to do some research and fact-checking so that you can effectively protect yourself and live STD-free.
Myth #1: You can get STDs from toilet seats
♦ Fact: STDs cannot be acquired through the sharing of toilet seats because the bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that carry these sexually transmitted infections cannot survive long outside a host body.
Myth #2: You can get an STD through shaking hands or hugging
♦ Fact: STDs cannot be transmitted through common physical contact, so do not be so paranoid about getting infected after handshakes and hugs with family, friends, coworkers, or even strangers.
Myth #3: Mosquitoes can give you an STD
♦ Fact: According to the research studies done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, STDs cannot be spread through mosquito bites. Their findings show no evidence of mosquitoes transmitting STDs to people, even in places with huge populations of mosquitoes.
The most common STDs today
According to the World Health Organization, over one million cases of sexually transmitted diseases are reported every day around the world, and every year, almost 400 million new STD cases arise, with a significant number being syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.
This STD is caused by Treponema pallidum, a bacterium that can do serious harm and damage if not diagnosed and treated right away. It is primarily transmitted from one person to another through direct contact with syphilis sore on the genitalia, mouth, or rectum.
This STD is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that not only can affect the genitals, but also the eyes, throat, mouth, rectum, and the reproductive tract. Also called “the clap,” it can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
This STD is the most prevalent among the three mentioned here. It is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium that can be passed on via vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and can affect the genitals, throat, and other reproductive organs.
Signs and symptoms of STDs
There is a wide variety of signs and symptoms associated with sexually transmitted diseases. However, many STDs do not trigger visible or noticeable signs and symptoms early on and become unnoticed for a long time until serious complications occur.
Below are examples of STD warning signs that you should watch out for:
- ♦ Odd or unusual discharge from the genitals
- ♦ Bumps, sores, or lesions around the genital or rectal area
- ♦ Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- ♦ Pain during sexual intercourse
- ♦ Bleeding during or after sex
- ♦ Lower abdominal pains
- ♦ Rash on the hands or feet
- ♦ Swollen or sore lymph nodes in the groin or other areas of the body
- ♦ Fever
Diagnosing an STD
If you manifest any of the symptoms above, you have to go see your doctor right away. You need to undergo an STD testing or STD screening to determine if you really have been infected with an STD and what type of STD you have.
Your doctor may use one or more of the following commonly used STD testing methods to get an accurate diagnosis:
♦ Blood test – This is usually used to diagnose syphilis and HIV.
♦ Urine test – This is often used to diagnose bacterial STDs, such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
♦ Fluid sample test – This is done by taking fluid samples from open genital sores that you may have.
STD treatment options
There are different treatment options available for different types of STDs, depending on what caused the infection. In general, STDs caused by bacteria are easier to treat than STDs caused by viruses.
These are used to cure STDs caused by bacteria and parasites, such as Chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, and are usually administered in a single dose.
These are used to cure STDs caused by viruses. If you have HIV or herpes, your doctor may prescribe these to manage your infection. In the case of HIV, antiviral medication treatment needs to be taken for several years to lower the risk of complications and transmission.
STD prevention tips
STDs can be very detrimental not only to your sexual health but also to your overall health, so you have to know how you can keep them away. The following are tips to prevent STDs:
You should always use condoms when having vaginal, oral, or anal sex to lower your risk of contracting STDs from your sexual partners.
Being in a monogamous relationship with a partner that has been tested negative for STDs should keep you STD-free.
Limit alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to many reckless and thoughtless decisions, including things that are sexually-related.
Regular STD testing
Getting an STD test every time you have a new sexual partner is highly recommended to protect against the spread of STDs.
No sharing of needles
Do not use used needles, injections, and other paraphernalia when taking drugs or getting tattoos, as you can get STDs through the blood.