Whether it’s procreation or for recreation, sex is a fundamental aspect of life. But if not practiced with precaution, you might be at risk of contracting an STD or Sexually Transmitted Disease. STDs are of grave concern not just in our country but on a global scale, as they are among the most prevalent infectious diseases. Their potential to cause serious, permanent and fatal complications is something one should never take lightly.
There are collectively over 30 different sexually transmissible parasites, bacteria, and viruses that can infect the body with an STD. Although primarily spread through sexual contact, STDs can sometimes be transmitted non-sexually too – from mother to child during pregnancy, through blood transfusions or by sharing needles. Certain sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, syphilis, and scabies are contagious and can spread through touch.
Some common STDs are:
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection: A condition caused by HIV which damages and impedes the immune system.
- Gonorrhea: An infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat.
- Chlamydia: A common bacterial infection that spreads through oral, vaginal and anal sex.
- Syphilis: A highly contagious infection which typically starts as a painless sore on your mouth, genitals or rectum
- Genital herpes: An infection caused by the herpes simplex virus which causes painful sores on the genitals.
- Hepatitis B infection: An infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus which can lead to scarring, organ failure, and cancer.
- Scabies: A highly contagious skin condition characterized by rashes that cause severe itching.
- Chancroid: A bacterial infection that leads to open sores on or around the genitals.
Indications of an STD
Sexually Transmitted Diseases can exhibit a wide range of symptoms or no apparent symptoms at all. Hence, they tend to go unnoticed until complications arise much later. Many times, people who seem perfectly fine may not even know that they have an infection and unwittingly spread the disease – which is also one of the major reasons for the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the world today. If you suspect that you have an STD or your partner has an STD, the first step is to communicate your concern to your partner followed by a prompt checkup.
Signs that might indicate an STD include:
- Sores or bumps on the genital, oral or rectal areas
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes
- Lower abdominal pain
When you should consider getting yourself tested
As the old saying goes- prevention is better than cure, the most effective way to avoid the devastating effects of being infected with an STD is to take precautionary measures during sexual intercourse and to get yourself checked for infection periodically. Vigilance and timely checkups are all the more crucial if you have a sexually active lifestyle or use intravenous drugs.
You should get checked for an STD if:
- You are having sex with multiple people
- You have sex with a person who has multiple sex partners
- You don’t use a condom when having sex
- You share needles when injecting intravenous drugs
With all that being said, perhaps the single most effective way to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is to ensure that you always practice protected sex. And although protective methods such as condoms are not 100% foolproof, they greatly reduce the risk of contracting an STD.
So the next time you find yourself under the sheets with your partner, be safe and not sorry.