No one wants a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and while many people take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, they aren't always foolproof. Additionally, some people do not consistently practice safe sex, putting them at risk of contracting an STD. Here is what you need to know.
What Is a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
An STD is any disease that can be contracted via sexual contact. While transmission normally occurs via sexual intercourse, other sexual activities can also result in an STD. Additionally, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that leads to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), can be transmitted by intravenous drug users sharing needles.
Who Is at Risk of Contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
People who have sex with more than one partner or have sex with someone who has multiple partners are at risk of getting an STD. Failing to use a condom during vaginal or anal intercourse is also a big risk factor. Having unprotected sex with people who use intravenous drugs or sharing needles with others are other factors that can lead to an STD.
Some sexually transmitted diseases can be spread by oral sex. For example, if you or your partner has genital herpes or chlamydia and either of you engages in oral sex, the virus/bacterial infection can spread.
What Types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are Curable?
Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and herpes, can only be managed and not cured. Others are curable, such as the following:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. Typical chlamydia symptoms are painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum. However, some people do not develop symptoms and thus are unaware they have the disease.
Chlamydia is treated with oral antibiotics. Left untreated, chlamydia can result in pelvic inflammatory disease and difficulty conceiving in women.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can affect the penis, vagina, rectum, as well as the throat, eyes, mouth, and brain if left untreated. The scary thing about gonorrhea is most women do not have any symptoms. In men, burning with urination and a discharge from the penis are the typical symptoms. Gonorrhea is more common in homosexual men. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics; however, there is evidence the bacteria is becoming antibiotic-resistant, making it harder to eradicate.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite. It is more common in women than it is in men. Only about 30 percent of people with the parasite develop symptoms, making it easily spreadable. When symptoms do occur, discomfort on urination and a discharge from the vagina or penis are most common. In women, the discharge may have a distinct fishy odor. Trichomoniasis is treated with oral prescription medication to kill the parasite.
If you have had unprotected sex outside of a monogamous relationship or suspect you may have been exposed to an STD, it is imperative you are tested immediately. Go to your nearest walk-in clinic for lab tests rather than waiting for a doctor appointment.