By Jennifer Elizabeth Masters
Sex is a lot more fun when you don’t have to worry about getting a sexually transmitted disease. The truth of the matter is, if you are dating, or changing partners, you are more likely to get an STD than those who are in completely monogamous relationships. Statistics paint a scary picture especially about Americans and the rate of infection. Here are some important eye opening facts about STDs and how to prevent them.
An STD is any transmitted disease spread through sexual contact, either orally, vaginally, anally, or through hand to genital contact. Towards the end of this article are the signs and symptoms of the 10 most common STDs. Recognizing you have a disease early can help reduce the chances of infecting another person and save you from becoming very ill or infertile. If you do find you have an STD, inform all your partners that you have had over the past 60 days so that they can get treatment too.
When we have sex with a new partner, questions need to be asked. Do you have an STD? Do you have AIDS? When was the last time you had a blood test for STDs? Are you okay with us practicing safe sex and using a condom? If we aren’t talking about what we want in bed, we are also not talking about the potential for disease with a new partner either.
1. When we have sex with someone new, we take on their karma, their DNA as well as any infections they might have.
2. Preventing pregnancy is not the only reason to use a condom. At a recent visit to my doctor, she mentioned using a condom, no matter how old we are. Sexually transmitted diseases can occur in older dating adults too. You are never too old to use a condom! Many STDs go unnoticed for years because they have no outward symptoms.
3. At least 50% of sexually active men and women will have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at some point in their lives. There are two forms of this virus, both low risk and high risk forms. HPV the low risk version can cause genital warts, where the
high risk version can cause cervical and other cancers. Often the body’s immune system will fight off the infection within two years.
4. The US has the highest rate of STDs in the industrialized world. We also have the lowest rate of integrative sexual and reproductive care in the world.
Our sex education is sadly inadequate when it comes to teaching other methods of preventing pregnancy rather than just abstinence. Teens are having sex. Telling them NOT to do it, isn’t going to stop them from having sex. If I tell you don’t think of a pink elephant, what are you going to think of? Right, a pink elephant. Teens have urges; it is as natural as breathing. Many of them are acting on these urges. The average age that a male loses his virginity is 16. For females it is slightly older, 17. Some teens are becoming sexually active as early as 12 or 13. These are average statistics. Sadly waiting later to have sex, does not reduce the incidence of STDs.
5. The CDC (Center For Disease Control) in the US, reports that there are over 20 million new infections of sexually transmitted infections each year, costing the US 16 billion alone.
The CDC also says that half of all the STIs reported are affecting our youths today. Abstinence is not a prevention for STIs, because teens are just going to have sex. Education is missing in this area. Unprotected sex is the cause of the transmission of sexual diseases.
The CDC estimated the number of prevalent infections in the nation. Prevalence indicates the number of new and existing infections at any given time. The prevalence statistics estimate 110 million STIs among young men and women.
If you have an STD, getting yourself to a doctor right away is imperative. Early detection can save you embarrassment, and severe pain later on.
Most Common Types of STDs
- Chlamydia: the most common and rampant STD due to it’s innocuous side effects. Can take months or even years to show signs or symptoms. It effects a man’s urethra and a woman’s cervix, like Gonorrhea. Symptoms include a thick slightly discolored discharge from the penis or vagina. Passed through penile/vaginal contact. Latex condoms prevents Chlamydia.
- Gonorrhea: One of the most common STDs, the CDC estimates that there are over 700,000 new cases each year. Also known as “the clap.” Undetected can lead to infertility in men and women without showing any symptoms. Treatable and preventable. 15-29 year olds living in Colorado have the highest incidence of Gonorrhea in the US. Many people do not exhibit any symptoms at all. It may cause a woman to bleed in between her periods, or difficulty for both men and women urinating. Testicles may swell. Can cause infections in the mouth, eyes, anus. Can spread to the blood and joints. Preventable using a latex condom, or dental dam.
- Herpes: Often the person who has it doesn’t even know. Can cause blisters that are painful around the anus or genitals. Symptoms can be lessened with antiviral medication, but there is no known cure. However, there are some comforting websites out there that have healing remedies. Here is one I found with great information. Having sex with someone who has an outbreak is not safe even with a condom because the blisters can be outside of the protected area of the condom.
- HPV: There are over 100 different types of Human Papilloma Viruses. Often no symptoms are evident. Can cause genital warts, but not always. The warts can be removed several different ways. No cure. A surgery can be done to remove the cells from the inside of the vagina and/or cervix (cryosurgery).
- Trichomoniasis: The most common STD. Often no symptoms in men at all. Women may have a thick yellowish or greenish frothy vaginal discharge. There may be swelling of the vaginal tissue, or labia as well as painful urination. Men may have painful urination. Since reinfection is common, it is important for all partners to be notified and treated also. Trichomoniasis can make you more susceptible to HIV (AIDS). Latex condom and dental dam will prevent infection.
- Chancroid: Bacterial infection only spread through sexual contact. Causes painful sores or ulcers in the genital region. Antibiotics and having the dead skin from the ulcer removed to prevent reinfection. Not very common in the US. Prevalent in the sex industry with sex workers and their clients. Condoms will help, but do not fully protect because it is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
- Hepatitis: Not thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, but rather a drug users disease there are three types spread through sexual contact. Hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted through sex. All forms cause liver damage. B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer. Fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting are all symptoms. Spread through fecal matter, anal sex, or people preparing food that don’t wash their hands properly. Vaccines are available in a series, but no cure. Condoms will reduce your risk.
- HIV/AIDS: An autoimmune disease spread through sexual contact and swapping bodily fluids. Fever, rashes, lesions, sweats and blurred vision are symptoms. You can have HIV for years and not have any symptoms at all. Ultimately HIV can lead to AIDS and death. People are most contagious soon after becoming infected, when there are no symptoms. There is treatment post infection, that can help you live a relatively healthy life.
- Syphilis: A very sneaky STD that causes a bacterial infection of the genital tract also known as “Treponema Pallidum.” Spread by direct contact of the small, painless sores of the mouth, on the vagina, penis, anus or genitals that are not protected by a condom. Other symptoms include: hair loss, sore throat, head ache and white patchy skin.
- Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC) Caused by Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or other STDs when left untreated. Sometimes can be present without any symptoms at all. Can cause bleeding during or after sex, unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding between periods. Antibiotics can clear this infection up. Be sure to do a follow-up after the course of antibiotics is complete.
Sex is so much fun when you are safe and protected. Be sure to have safe sex.
Jennifer Elizabeth Masters is an author, love and passion coach, hypnotherapist and Master energy healer. She is a catalystic healer naturally, meaning she helps your release your stuff while talking with her. Jennifer works with those committed to living a happier life, with deep meaningful relationships. She herself has healed her codependency, addictions, depression and low self esteem. She lovingly and compassionately will move you forward out of your story, mind chatter, negativity, anxiety, sadness or depression with ease and grace.