A sexually transmitted disease, popularly known as an STD, is an infection that is contracted from oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Medical professionals prefer the term sexually transmitted infection (STI), though this has not caught on with the public. Public heath officials estimate that there are more than 20 million new cases each year in America. Unfortunately, many of those who are infected do not get tested, be it from embarrassment, lack of awareness, or lack of symptoms.
Indeed, for certain STDs more than half of those who have contracted the illness won’t show any symptoms at all. This is true for women who have gonorrhea, to give one example. This is why it is so crucial for sexually active adults to get screened and take control of their health.
For those who have symptoms, the most common are discharge, often white, from the vagina or the penis, and painful urination. If you have one of these symptoms, you’ll notice it, and you should get treatment as soon as you can.
If left untreated, an STD can develop into cancer, infertility, or pose a risk to a newborn child. If treated, many can be cured and the rest can be treated and managed.
Sexually transmitted infections are caused by parasites, viruses, or bacteria. Two examples caused by a parasite are pubic lice and scabies, which cannot be cured but can be treated. The same is true for STDs caused by a virus, such as herpes and HIV / AIDs.
A bacterial infection can be cured with antibiotics, and a few of the most famous STDs – chlamydia and gonorrhea – fall into this category. You may have heard that there is a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to antibiotics, but the chances of this happening to you are slim. So get tested and get treated!
There’s an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. After all, many problems are straightforward to prevent but become quite difficult to fix. This is certainly true for sexually transmitted diseases, and it’s a great argument for abstinence and safe sex. Condoms are the most straightforward form of birth control to minimize your risk of getting infected.
You should get tested at least once a year if you fall into one of the following groups:
- You changed sex partners
- You had more than one partner
- You are in a high risk group, including women, homosexuals, and certain minority groups
Women in particular should remember to get tested for a few different reasons. First of all, the chance of a woman contracting an STD is higher than that of a man. Second, many women do not show symptoms, so those who are infected may not realize that anything is wrong.
Sometimes it can feel a bit embarrassing to talk about sex, but your sexual health is very important. It’s always a good idea to get tested, and it’s easier than it’s ever been. Today, there are many options available, including home std tests that you can order online. These may not be as accurate as the screening that you would get in a lab – more false positives, for one – but it takes away one more excuse.