The subject of STDs (or sometimes called STIs) is a very important topic of discussion in modern society. With children in primary schools being taught about sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of protected sex, this subject cannot go without mention.
Types of STD
There are a multitude of diseases that can be spread from unprotected sex, some causing life threatening illnesses, others causing minor but highly irritating and embarrassing problems.
Sexually transmitted diseases can range from the extremely frightening HIV to the less problematic cystitis.
Preventing a Sexually Transmitted Disease
The most common ways of reducing the chance of transmitting an infection is by abstinence from sexual intercourse or by using condoms.
Condoms can be worn by either the male or female (Femidom), and are available in a wide range of colours, flavours, sizes and can even come with added features such as being ribbed.
Many people enjoy full sex lives without the need for having full sex by using methods of massage, touching and foreplay to enrich their lives; indeed this is particularly useful with a new partner until trust or the subject of being tested has been discussed.
There is nothing to be lost by asking a new partner for a full screen to be undertaken at your nearest clinic, but it is only fair to offer this test to be done on yourself also.
STDs can also be spread through oral sex and the use of condoms or cling film is useful to prevent this occurring.
Common Types of Illnesses
Herpes can be found around the mouth or the genitals and can be spread easily from person to person by having unprotected sex and oral sex. Herpes results in painful sores and blisters and is a virus that once treated will continue to remain in the system through-out life.
Medications can be bought over the counter, though if these are not effective, a prescription from your GP or local GUM clinic may be necessary.
Avoid having sex whilst suffering from an outbreak and use condoms at all other times; though if sores have spread to areas outside the coverage of a condom, it can still be spread.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that can be passed by vaginal, oral or anal sex. The main consequence of gonorrhoea is infertility, and as it has no symptoms in its initial development it can be spread very quickly and very easily from person to person.
If left untreated for a long period of time, other parts of the anatomy may be affected and can have serious consequences. The best protection from gonorrhoea is the use of condoms and not having multiple partners.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection passed through intercourse and oral sex. It has no obvious symptoms and can cause urinary tract infections and infertility if left untreated.
Usually the only symptom of Chlamydia is from the urinary tract infection which can cause burning and increased frequency of urination.
Typical Symptoms of an STD
Below is a list of many of the symptoms that accompany STDs; it is worth remembering that these symptoms often occur a long while after the infection has developed so your treating doctor or nurse will want you to remember all sexual partners so that each infected person can be traced and treated.
- Discharge from the vagina or penis, often with itching.
- Pain during intercourse or when passing urine.
- Sore throat.
- Pelvic Pain.
- Sores or blisters developing that do not respond to other treatments.
- Swollen glands, fever, night sweats.
It is important to remember that by using condoms and by reducing the amount of sexual partners you have is the easiest and most effective way of protecting yourself from diseases.
It is impossible to tell from appearance who has an infection and who hasn’t. Do not be embarrassed to go and seek medical help; all appointments are confidential and you will gain respect for taking the responsibility seriously.