Without surprise many people who learn they have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) are devastated. Remember, STDs can be very common and getting one does not mean you are horrible. The first important step is to get help by talking with your health care provider.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Sex in this case includes intercourse, anal sex, oral sex or skin-to-skin contact. Such infections are usually passed by having intercourse but they can also be passed through other types of sex. The cause of STD can be bacterial or viral. The common bacterial infections are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphillis, while the common viral infections are hepatitis B, herpes, genital warts, and HIV/AIDS.
Many people believe they are not at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, but STDs are the nation’s most common type of infection. Even people who have had only one sexual partner can have an STD. You are at risk if you or your partner has ever had another partner; don’t know your partner’s sexual history; have ever had unprotected sex or your partner has symptoms.
Symptoms include pain or burning sensation during urination, discharge from urethra (from the penis or vaginal discharge and staining on underwear, pain in the lower abdomen, flu-like symptoms (ie. weak, lethargic) followed by jaundice and tenderness at the right upper abdomen. You may also notice bumps, sores, or warts on or near the genital area (these lesions can also develop in the throat or anus if there is history of anal or oral sex.
See your doctor if you’re at risk of contracting a STD, if you have any STD symptoms or if you have concerns about whether you have one. Many people feel that talking about sexual health can be awkward or embarrassing, but remember, STDs can cause problems if left untreated. For example, chlamydia can lead to problems that can cause women not to be able to have children.
HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix or penis and syphilis can lead to paralysis, mental problems, heart damage, blindness and death. So, enlisting the help of your health care provider is the first step in diagnosing and treating any sexually transmitted disease–and protecting your sexual health.
Most STDs can be diagnosed through an exam by your doctor, a culture of the secretions from your vagina or penis, or through a blood test.The good news is that all STDs can be treated or cured. Those caused by bacteria (such as chlamydia or gonorrhea) can be cured with antibiotics. Those caused by a virus (such as herpes or HPV) cannot be cured, but they can be treated to relieve symptoms.
What should I do if I am diagnosed with STD?
• Follow your provider’s treatment directions.
• Ask your provider about ways to avoid spreading the STD to a partner.
• Tell your partner you have an STD. Ask your partner to get tested, too.
• Avoid sex until both you and your partner have been treated.
• Take all of your medicine as instructed.
• Never take another person’s medicine or give someone yours.
• Return for follow-up care if your provider asks you to.
Women should give more attention to STD problems because most sexual transmitted infections to women won’t show any symptoms until it has caused other complications, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can lead to sterility. Certain STDs can also cause sterility to men, too.
Do condoms prevent STDs? Male latex condoms can reduce your risk of getting a STD if used correctly. Be sure to use condoms every time you have sex, during all types of sex, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Female condoms aren’t as effective as male condoms, but should be used when a man won’t use a male condom. Remember though, that condoms aren’t 100% safe and can’t protect you from coming in contact with some sores, such as those that can occur with herpes, or warts, which can occur with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection.
Do spermicides help prevent STDs? No. It was once thought that spermicides with nonoxynol-9 could help prevent STDs much like they help prevent pregnancy, by damaging the organisms that cause the diseases. New research has shown that nonoxynol-9 can also irritate a woman’s vagina and cervix, actually increasing the risk of a STD infection. Be sure to also check the ingredients of any other sex-related products you own, such as lubricants and condoms. Some brands of these products may have nonoxynol-9 added to them. If you are unsure if your spermicide or any other product contains nonoxynol-9, ask your doctor before using it.
What else should i do?
• Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
• Ask your partner if he or she has a STD and tell your partner if you have had one. Talk about whether you’ve both been tested for STDs and whether you should be tested.
• Look for signs of a STD in your sex partner, but remember that STDs don’t always show their symptoms. Don’t have sex if you or your partner are being treated for a STD.
Wash your genitals with soap and water and urinate soon after you have sex. This may help clean away some germs before they have a chance to infect you.
The 100% sure way to protect yourself! The surest way to prevent any STD is don’t have sex. There are many ways to show love besides sex. You cannot spread a STD if there is no contact between the penis, vagina, mouth or anus.