Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — are generally acquired by sexual contact. The bacteria, viruses or parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. One can get an STD from any kind of sexual activity that involves the mouth, anus, vagina or penis.
Sometimes these infections can be transmitted non-sexually, such as from mothers to their infants during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles.
STDs are serious illnesses that need treatment. Some, like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cannot be cured and can be life-threatening without treatment.
Some sexually transmitted infections include:
- Genital herpes
- Genital warts
- Hepatitis B
- Gonorrhea (sometimes called “clap”)
- Trichomoniasis (sometimes called “trick”)
STDs can have a range of signs and symptoms, including no symptoms. That’s why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure. However, it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism causing the infection.
Some Facts about STDs
You might have an STD and not know it.
About one in six people ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes; which is not curable but is manageable with treatment. However, experts think up to 90% of people who have herpes don’t even know they have it. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, so people don’t seek treatment or realize they are infected, making them more likely to spread the disease. It’s important to be screened for STDs yearly if you aren’t in a long-term, monogamous relationship, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
STDs among older adults are on the rise.
For older adults, life changes like divorce and finding new partners create potential for exposure. Once past childbearing years, older adults entering into new sexual relationships simply may not realize they should always use condoms — to avoid STDs rather than unplanned pregnancies.
Condoms don’t provide 100 percent protection; aren’t foolproof.
When condoms are used correctly they don’t always provide 100% protection from one of the most common STDs: genital herpes. Herpes virus can live on areas other than those covered by a condom, so any sexual contact puts you at risk. About one out of every six people ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
It’s not just young people who get STDs.
Although young people ages 15 to 24 account for a large percentage of new STD infections, older populations, including the elderly, are also at risk. In 2010, there were 19,000 elderly people diagnosed with chlamydia, up from 6,700 just ten years earlier. At any age, sexual activity brings the risk of STDs, so always know your status and take steps to protect yourself.
Any sexual activity; not just intercourse — can spread STDs, including one that can cause cancer.
Oral and anal sex and mutual masturbation can expose people to a number of STDs besides herpes, including chlamydia, syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV). And it’s HPV that’s usually linked to cancer.
Some Myths about STD-
You can see an STD if your partner has one
The facts is while common symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection include vaginal discharge, sores around your genitals, painful intercourse, and itchiness, you or your partner can have and transmit an STD without exhibiting any signs or symptoms at all. That’s why testing is so important.
One can get an STD from a public toilet
Thankfully, this is simply untrue. STDs require a warm body to live and will die outside of that environment. While it’s important to have good hygiene, especially in public restrooms, sexually transmitted diseases are spread from person-to-person contact and not from toilets or other surfaces.
An STD resolves on its own
The fact is unfortunately, most STDs will not go away on its own. There are long-term side effects and health risks that accompany STDs, so be sure to seek treatment at our clinic. STD causes life threating conditions that requires adequate treatment and lifelong precautions.
You can’t get an STD if you only have oral sex
STDs are easily spread through all forms of sex: vaginal, anal, and oral. The infections are caused by bacteria or a virus that can enter your body through tiny cuts or tears in your skin and mucous membranes.
You Can Only Get Herpes from Someone When They’re Having an Outbreak
Truth is you can catch herpes even if it’s lying dormant in your partner. Herpes can be dormant for weeks without an outbreak, and a person can still pass it along to you. They might not even know they’ve been infected. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there — and contagious.
Chlorine Kills STDs
Chlorine is no match for STDs. There’s this misconception you can be intimate in a pool or hot tub and still be safe because the chlorine (and the hot water, in the case of a hot tub) will kill off the virus or bacteria behind an STD.
If You Don’t Have Sex, You Can’t Get an STD
Any kind of sexual contact can lead to contracting an STD. We already touched on this myth earlier on. To be clear, opting for an intimate act that isn’t “going all the way” doesn’t mean you can’t catch an STD. This is because the various kinds of viruses and bacteria that cause STDs enter the system through very small cuts and tears. Furthermore, for STDs like herpes, all it takes is skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.
When to see a doctor- See a doctor immediately if:
You are sexually active and may have been exposed to an STD infection.
You have signs and symptoms of an STD infection.
How to prevent STD-
Only abstaining from sex (abstinence, or not having sex) offers complete protection from STIs. If you are sexually active, make sure to:
- Use a latex condom whenever you have any kind of sex. Condoms are especially important if you have multiple sex partners.
- Have sex with one person (monogamy). Or limit the number of sexual partners. Each new partner raises your risk of catching an STI.
- Choose sex partners carefully. Don’t have sex if you suspect your partner has an STI.
- Get checked for STIs regularly. Doing so help prevent spreading the infection to other people. And ask any new sex partner to get tested before having sex for the first time.
- Avoid alcohol or drugs before having sex. People who are drunk or high may engage in risky sexual behaviors, which can lead to an STD.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of STIs. If you notice symptoms, get treatment quickly.
- Educate yourself about STIs. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself and your partners.
Sexually transmitted infections are life threatening for both you and your partner; its always better to keep away from unwanted sexual encounters when drunk or with strangers. Having single partner is always a best policy. If you get exposed to any kind of unwanted sex better to get yourself evaluated. As it is rightly said precaution is better than cure.