In school we are briefly taught about sexually transmitted diseases at a very young age. A few classes with a pat on the back and we are sent out into a world, unknowingly unprepared, dealing with diseases in a society that pretends they don’t exist.
They’re very real and, if left ignored or untreated, can lead to more serious complications.
The most common STD’s
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is the most common STD. Chances are, if you’re sexually active, you probably have the virus. There are 40 different kinds, which can spread through any kind of sex and through skin contact as well. Most of the time it is undetectable and has no negative side-effects. However, sometimes it can generate genital warts or lead to cervical, mouth, anal or throat cancer for women if the body doesn’t eliminate it on its own.
Pap smears can detect cervical cancers early on. A preventive course of action is getting one of the 3 available HPV vaccinations.
Chlamydia is an STD caused by bacteria and can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. It is the most commonly reported STD in the U.S. and shows the symptom of unpleasant-smelling discharge. Because it is bacterial in nature, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Gonorrhea tends to be Chlamydia’s trusted sidekick, as it usually is found on a person who is already infected with Chlamydia. If symptoms do show, then the woman will have unpleasant smelling discharge and may experience a burning sensation when urinating. It is treatable with antibiotics.
Syphilis develops over time. It begins looking like a harmless bump and develops into a sore. It can be found in the mouth, vagina, or anus. It can pose a threat to your brain health, other organs and even cause nerve damage. Although for most people it doesn’t develop into that stage. It can be treated with antibiotics.
Because Herpes is a virus, it is incurable and only manageable with the help of medication. It manifests itself in the form of painful blisters and can be contracted through skin to skin contact. It is the most contagious when the blisters are showing.
HIV, a virus with no known cure is the virus which leads to AIDS. It can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, vaginal fluids, breast milk or semen. Though it can’t be transmitted through saliva, it can be transmitted through sexual activity or through sharing needles. The symptoms can resemble the flu such as muscle soreness, fatigue, weight loss or diarrhea. It targets the immune system and destroys it slowly, eventually inhibiting the body’s ability to fend off infections. To know if you are HIV positive you can get a saliva or blood test performed. Though there is no treatment to cure the disease, medications are available to manage it.
Best practices to avoid contracting STD’s
The best way to avoid getting an STD is avoid having sexual intercourse with a person who you know is positive with any of the aforementioned ones. However, people don’t always have the luxury of knowing whether or not someone is positive.
Other ways to decrease your risk are to use latex condoms, wash before and after sex, avoid drinking if you have a tendency to have unsafe sex under the influence, and get vaccinated. Finally, communication with your partner is key, as well as regularly seeing your doctor to make sure that you haven’t contracted anything.
If you have contracted an STD
It is your responsibility to communicate to your partner that you have an STD. Even if the both of you intend on practicing safe sex, communication provides them the choice on whether or not they want to risk an infection. In addition, it is your responsibility to go to the doctor, get regularly tested and treated, and to follow your doctor's orders.
If you suspect you may have contracted an STD make an appointment with South Bay OBGYN at 631.489.8090 to get tested.