Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STD stands for sexually transmitted diseases (also known as sexually transmitted infections STIs). STDs are common and serious. The good news is STDs can be treated and many can be cured. Better yet, all STDs can be prevented.

Am I at risk?

You can catch an STD if you have sex with someone who has an STD. Any sex that involves the penis, vagina, anus or mouth can spread disease. Some STDs spread through body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid or blood. Others are caught through contact with affected skin.

It doesn't matter if you are straight or gay, male or female, young or old. Any person who participates in sexual activity can get an STD. Your risk increases if you have more than one partner. The more partners you have, the greater your risk. If your partner has other partners you may be exposed to an STD.

When it comes to sex, only abstinence or a monogamous relationship with an infection-free partner is risk-free.
Latex condoms provide the next best protection against STDs. Latex condoms stop the exchange of body fluids that carry certain STDs. They also limit contact with affected skin. Be aware that a condom doesn't cover all skin. So affected skin that is not covered can still transfer disease. But you are safer with a condom than without one. Use a condom to prevent disease even if you use other methods of birth control.

Getting checked

If you have been sexually active, the only sure way to know if you have an STD is to get checked by a healthcare provider. If you notice unusual discharge, lumps, bumps, rashes or sores that may be painful, itchy or painless, itchy skin, burning with urination or pain in the pelvis, abdomen or rectum please see a professional. If if you don't have symptoms but you think you are at risk, get checked right away. If your partner has an STD, you need to be tested even if you feel fine.


Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Chlamydia is a bacterial disease. It spreads when infected fluid from the sex organs or rectum contacts the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Chlamydia often shows no early symptoms, but over time it can scar reproductive organs. Chlamydia can be cured, but any damage from scarring remains.

Gonorrhea is a bacterial disease. It spreads when infected fluid from the sex organs or rectum contacts the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Gonorrhea may not show any early symptoms, but left untreated, the infection can scar reproductive organs. Gonorrhea can be cured, but any damage from scarring remains. This disease can infect the blood, joints and skin. This can be serious and even life-threatening.

Herpes is a virus that cause outbreaks of sores around the sex organs or mouth. It is spread through contact with affected skin during sex, kissing or intimate touching. There is no cure for herpes, but medications can limit the outbreaks and speed healing. Herpes outbreaks tend to decrease over time. Although herpes can be treated, the virus stays in the body.

Syphilis is a bacterial disease. It spreads through contact with affected skin. Syphilis progresses in three stages. Symptoms and health complications become more severe with each stage. Syphilis can be cured, but certain types of damage caused by the disease cannot be reversed. The first stage of syphilis can produce a painless sore called a chancre. Left untreated, syphilis progresses to the second stage which can produce a rash on the body that can spread to the palms and feet. It can also cause swollen glands, fever, sore throat and headache. Patchy hair loss, weight loss or tiredness can also occur. If syphilis remains untreated it enters the third stage. Damage to the brain, nerves, blood vessels and heart may occur. This can lead to blindness and even death. In a pregnant woman, untreated syphilis at any stage can cause organ and brain damage to her unborn baby. Syphilis is usually treated with and antibiotic injection.

HPV and Genital Warts
HPV is a family of viruses that spread though skin contact. Some forms of HPV cause genital warts ( also called conyloma). Other types put women at higher risk of cervical cancer. HPV can't be cured, but there are treatments to remove warts. There are also tests to help spot warning signs of cervical cancer. Reduce the spread of HPV by limiting your partners and use latex condoms, but be aware that HPV can be passed through contact with affected skin that a condom doesn't cover. A vaccine is available for women to help prevent cervical cancer cause by HPV. Pap smears help catch cell changes in the cervix early, when treatment is most effective.

Vaginitis is a group of infections that inflame the vagina. Not all types of vaginitis are STDs, but having sex can make some types of vaginitis more likely. Depending on the type of vaginitis, both partners may need treatment, because men can carry and spread the infection. All forms of vaginitis can be cured. Without treatment, burning, itching and discharge can persist. If your partner is not treated he or she can infect you again.


Jeffrey Harris