For a long time now, sexually transmitted diseases have been a major health threat in both men and women, whether young or old, around the world. In the United States, almost two million cases of Chlamydia, more than 555,000 cases of gonorrhea, and over 30 million cases of syphilis have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, about 144,000 cases of gonorrhea or Chlamydia among people between the ages of 15 years old and 24 years old have been documented also in 2017 by the Public Health England, which averages to approximately 400 reports per day.
Because STDs spread fast, people should be educated about the best and most effective methods to protect themselves. If you do not have even the basic knowledge on these infections, you will very likely contract them and suffer from the symptoms and complications they bring about.
Causes of common sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by different factors. A number are brought about by parasites, some by bacteria, and others by viruses.
This STD is caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite, which can make ejaculating or urinating painful, and the urethra itchy and irritated.
This STD is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium, which strikes the reproductive system, rectum, eyes, throat, and mouth.
This STD is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium. It affects the genitals, rectum, eyes, and throat.
This STD is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacterium, which triggers problems in the genitals, as well as in the joints, bones, heart, brain, and liver, if in the final stage of the disease.
This STD is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated right away. It weakens the immune system, rendering the body incapable of fighting off infections, diseases, and other foreign invaders.
This STD is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. If you have it, you can suffer from itchiness around your genital area, develop blisters that can break open and become sores that can be excruciatingly painful.
Examples of typical STD warning signs and symptoms
Sexually transmitted diseases can trigger a variety of warning signs and symptoms. A lot of people usually wait for these to manifest before they go to a doctor to get an STD test and receive advice on the appropriate treatment solutions.
However, many STDs do not cause noticeable indicators for a certain period of time. They can sneak into your body and live inside of you for a while — without you seeing anything odd growing on your genitals or feeling any kind of pain or discomfort — and quietly damage your reproductive system and other vital body parts. If this happens to you, you will never know that you have been attacked by an infection until you decide to undergo an STD screening test, despite the absence of observable symptoms.
If STD signs and symptoms do show up, the following are what you should be looking out for:
- You feel pain or a burning sensation when urinating or having sex.
- There are bumps or sores on your genital or rectal region.
- Your penis or vagina has a strange-colored discharge.
- Your penis or vagina gives off a strong, unpleasant odor.
- A rash or rashes appear on your genitals, hands, or feet.
- You experience fever.
- There is pain around your lower abdominal area.
- You suffer from inflammation of the lymph nodes.
Factors that increase a person’s risk of STDs
There are certain factors that make a person more susceptible to getting infected with STDs. Take a look at the list below to see if there is one, or even more, that applies to you:
Partaking in unprotected sexual acts
Because STDs are primarily transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse, not using condoms, latex gloves, dental dams, and other barriers increases your risk level of contracting STDs.
Use or sharing of unsterilized needles, injections, and other paraphernalia
STDs are also commonly spread through blood, so making use of dirty needles and the likes, when injecting drugs, getting body piercings or tattoos, and others can expose you to these harmful infections.
Abuse of recreational drugs and alcohol
Abusive and excessive use of drugs and alcohol impairs your brain, judgment, and decision-making, so you may become more eager to take part in reckless and risky sexual activities.
Ways to lower your risk of getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases
Abstaining is the most effective method to prevent STDs. If you do not have sex, you will not find yourself in a situation that exposes you to bacteria, viruses, and parasites that carry these dangerous infections. However, not everyone is willing to stop having sex just to remain STD-free, so it is up to you to make a decision on whether to go this route or find other STD prevention strategies to go with.
Because many STDs do not trigger visible signs and symptoms for a particular period of time, they can bring great harm and damage to your body without you noticing. Before you know it, you are already in the final stage of the disease, and have very limited options for full treatment and recovery. For the benefit of your sexual health, you should undergo regular STD testing, along with your sex partner. Every time you start a new sexual relationship, make an effort to get tested to protect yourself and your partner too.
Many people do not like using condoms when having sex because they say it is not as pleasurable, and it is not a surefire way of keeping STDs away anyway. However, even though using condoms does not make you 100% protected, neglecting to use them greatly increases your odds of contracting STDs. If your sex partner is infected, you can easily get infected too through semen, vaginal fluid, or even direct skin-to-skin contact.