Sexually Transmitted Diseases, known as STDs are most often, but not exclusively, spread via sexual intercourse. They are one of the most common forms of contagious diseases, means they can easily be transferred from one person to another. Every year, majority of infections diagnosed is in people aged between 15-24 years.
How does one get infected with STDs?
There are several ways to transmit a STD. The most common way is through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Some infections can also be spread through towels, toilet seats or damp clothing. The risk increases if:
- One has more than one sexual partner
- One becomes sexually active at an early age
- One has sexual contact with someone who has had multiple partners
- One does not use a condom during sexual intercourse
- One shares needles for taking drugs
One myth about STDs are that they cannot be spread through oral or anal sex. Oral sex, dry sex and even kissing can transmit the infection to your partner, through cuts and wounds in the mouth, anus and genitals.
Symptoms of STD
Symptoms of STD vary from person to person and the type of infection contracted. Common symptoms of STD in both men and women include:
- There would be no signs at all
- Pain during urination and ejaculation
- Rash or itching in the genital area
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or discharge from the penis
- Warts, lesions, or sores in the genital area
- Blisters that discharge pus
- Painless ulcers, fever, swelling, sore throat may also indicate the presence of a STD
Tips to prevent getting infected with a STD
Protecting yourself sexually involves not only learning about STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) but practicing safer sex every time you engage in any sexual activity.
- Avoid or minimize direct oral, anal and genital contact by using a barrier method correctly and regularly
- Avoidance of impulsive intercourse with a complete stranger
- Form a trusted, honest, and communicative relationship with your partner
- Always examine your partner for any wart, ulcer or any other obvious lesion on the genital parts
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Talk to your partner about your STI status
- Include STI testing as part of your regular medical check up.
- Do not use drugs or alcohol in potentially intimate situations as they can inhibit your ability to make decisions and may affect your dexterity.
- Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B and C (Consult a Sexologist/ Gynecologist/Obstetrician always).
5 quick tips to practice safe sex
- Educate yourself: Find out all you can about STDs. Understand how each STD is passed from person to person during sex.
- Decide to be safe: If you’re having sex and not protecting yourself, STD could happen to you—and anyone you might have sex with. Insist on only safer sex.
- Choose your protection: Two quick ways - Don't have sex or use condoms (they are cheap and easy to use).
- Talk about it: Talking with a partner is a key step in staying safe. Agree that you’ll both be tested for STD.
- Get Tested for STD: There are different tests for each STD. No single test can screen for all STDs. Talk to your doctor and go by his/her recommendation.
STD can affect anyone, anytime. It is important to be aware, to be transparent with your partner, to maintain sexual hygiene and to practice safe sex.