It is a conversation that you don’t want to have for sure, but STDS are on the rise, so it is better to get some answers to some important questions and find out where you stand.
You may want to learn more about your testing options for example, or you may simply want to know what symptoms you should be looking out for. Whatever it is you want to know, the basic facts are that STDs are a clear and present danger that needs to be talked about.
Contraception and STDs
A good starting point in having a conversation about STDs would be to talk about the common misconceptions and general misunderstanding the exists about what protection you get from the various forms of contraception available.
If you are on the pill, this is going to deal with birth control and unwanted pregnancy, but the contraceptive pill does not provide any protection against getting an STD.
The real gray area when it comes to contraception and STDs surrounds the use of condoms. If you use latex condoms, and use them correctly every time you have sex, then you are giving yourself a good level of protection against getting an STD.
Even if you are using a birth control pill, it is recommended that you also use a condom, as this will help to prevent you from getting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease.
Commonly referred to as HIV, human immunodeficiency virus can potentially prove to be a precursor to AIDS.
There is no turning back once you have HIV, as it is a lifetime condition and at the present time, your body simply has no way of ridding itself of HIV.
There are a few specific bodily fluids where HIV can be transmitted from one person to the other. Blood, semen, rectal and vaginal fluids, as well as breast milk are all known to be capable of transmitting HIV, however, it should be noted that there are only a few clearly defined ways for this transmission to occur.
The fluids in question, have to come into contact with a mucous membrane or come into contact with damaged tissue. It could also be directly into the your bloodstream via a needle or syringe.
As these vulnerable mucous membranes are found within the mouth, penis, rectum, and vagina, you can soon appreciate the risks associated with having sex with someone who already has HIV.
The general health recommendation is for everyone of a sexually-active age to get tested at least once as a precautionary procedure and as part of their routine health care practices.
If you are in what is classed as a high-risk group, gay and bisexual people being the most vulnerable according to HIV rates, then you will need to take precautions every time you have sex, which is the advice for everyone anyway, and get tested for HIV more frequently.
ABC of STDs
There are a number of different STDs you can get and each one has its own characteristics and symptoms, although some don’t always display any symptoms straight away.
Chlamydia is statistically the most common STDs and it is estimated that at least three million people in the U.S get infected every year. It is a bacterial infection, and in many cases you won’t experience any symptoms, but if you do, these will arrive about a week after getting infected. It is common to experience an abnormal discharge and a burning sensation when urinating. A course of antibiotics is used to treat this STD.
Genital warts are also very common and as the description hints, the affected area is around the genitals or anal area, where you may experience bleeding when having intercourse or itching, as well as other symptoms. Surgery is sometimes needed to remove the genital warts or a cream applied to the affected area.
Another bacterial STD to be aware of is Gonorrhea. It is often the case that you don’t display or experience any symptoms with Gonorrhea, but if you do, you will likely experience an abnormal discharge.
It is important to understand that if this STD is left untreated, there is a danger of infertility and pregnancy complications.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of STDs and there are undoubtedly going to be some other questions that you want answering at some point, and although it might be a difficult subject, it is a subject that needs talking about, especially if you think you might be affected by an STD.
Thomas Palmer is a sexual health nurse who works with young people providing them with contraceptives and health screenings. He is keen to share his information with a wider audience online and has his articles published at lifestyle blogs as well as health sites.
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