According to CDC estimates, about 20 million cases of infections are reported each year in America. Any kind of freedom co-exists with certain risks that could limit it. If you happen to be one among the millions of sexually active individuals, take time to show some concern to yourself by getting a test done for sexually transmitted diseases.
Not all STDs have distinct symptoms that are alarming enough to capture your attention. That’s why getting tested regularly is extremely important as being honest about your sexual partners about whether or not you are infected! Here are 4 common STDs that you are unknowingly harboring and, probably, spreading.
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
STDs caused by HPV are the most common and silent in nature until life-threatening complications have occurred. Below are a few things you should know about an HPV infection:
- HPV and genital warts: HPV types 6 and 11 are the ones responsible for those fleshy itchy bumps on the skin of your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus. These harmless growths are called genital warts and look like little cauliflowers. Even if they are painless, don’t leave them untreated as you can spread the disease to uninfected partners.
- High-risk HPV infections are dangerous: If your immunity is fighting a high-risk HPV, chances are you will never know it until cancerous changes have occurred in your cells. Cervical cancer caused by the virus can be detected in early stages by getting a periodic Pap Smear test done.
- Undergo periodic HPV/Pap Smear tests: Unfortunately, cancerous changes caused by HPV in the anus, penis, vulva, and throat present are difficult to diagnose at the earliest due to vague symptoms. If you get yourself tested periodically for HPV and also get Pap Smear tests done, you can detect any presence of virus at an initial stage.
An easily treatable STD, Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria which lives in the cervix, throat, urethra, vagina, and rectum of an infected person. It’s seen among sexually active individuals within 14–25 years of age. Here’s what you should know about Chlamydia:1
- Symptoms are often misunderstood: The signs of chlamydia are often confused with that of bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Therefore, it’s compulsory that you meet your OB/GYN when you are experiencing any smelly discharge, lower abdominal pain, or burning while urination. Pain during sex and bleeding between periods are also distinct signs of the disease.
- Easily treatable in early stages: It can be cleared up by potent antibiotics but most people only seek expert help when chlamydia has caused a plethora of complications in their reproductive system. A chlamydia infection can result in a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) when it has spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. If left untreated, this can lead to infertility and even premature births with low birth-weight infants.
- One touch is all you need: Gonorrhea can spread via all forms of sexual contact that includes anal, oral or vaginal intercourse. Even touching the infected penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of an infected person can make you prone to catch the disease.
- Typical signs of an infection: A breakthrough bleeding, abnormal and smelly vaginal discharge, and pain during urination and intercourse. A majority of people mistake it for a urinary or vaginal infection and ignore it.
- Complications of not getting treated: Similar to chlamydia, if left untreated it can cause inflammation, scarring, pelvic inflammatory disease and damage to the reproductive organs. The infection can increase your risk of contracting HIV. Pregnant women with gonorrhea are at risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight in infants. It can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
1 out of 6 people in the age range of 14–49 years in the U.S. has genital herpes. Sadly about 90% people with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) remain undiagnosed in the absence of characteristic symptoms. Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) is the strain responsible for genital herpes, while herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) is the one that causes mouth sores. Here are certain things you need to know about herpes.3
- HSV-1 can cause genital herpes too: If you indulge in oral sex with a partner who has cold sores in the mouth, you can get genital sores too.
- Barrier protection doesn’t work: In some the HSV infection is latent but when you are experiencing an active infection marked by new clusters of blisters, you should be extremely careful. Condoms cannot prevent you from getting the infection if other areas of the body have herpetic sores.
- Abstinence and transparency can prevent: Don’t have sex with partners who have sores in their mouths or on their genitals. Get yourself tested for HSV and don’t indulge in intercourse if you are infected.
Discretion is of paramount importance when it comes to physical intimacy. The pursuit of enjoying an ecstatic experience that lasts for a few minutes shouldn’t involve you putting yourself at risk of serious STDs. Take risks with mindfulness in your sex life. Get yourself tested for STDs and inquire about your partner’s sexual health status before doing the deed.
Most importantly abstain from casual sex with multiple partners. Avoid sex in intoxicated states as you are more likely to have poor decision-making capacity. Whenever you perform coitus, don’t forget to wear a condom!
|↑1||Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
|↑2||Katz, Alan R., Maria Veneranda C. Lee, and Glenn M. Wasserman. “Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Update: A Review of the CDC 2010 STD Treatment Guidelines and Epidemiologic Trends of Common STDs in Hawai ‘i.” Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health 71, no. 3 (2012): 68.|
|↑3||Simmons, Anthony. “Clinical manifestations and treatment considerations of herpes simplex virus infection.” The journal of infectious diseases 186, no. Supplement_1 (2002): S71-S77.|