Sexually transmitted diseases have become increasingly relevant in today’s society with current statistics indicating more than 20 million new cases in the United States alone. As if this is not alarming enough, studies did also indicate that about 50 % of people will acquire one at some point in their lifetime. Understanding such illnesses is the first step in being safe. Below are simple facts that help you understand why you should check for STDs regularly and break up any STD myths you may have heard.
Basic facts about STDs
These are basically illnesses that are transferred from one person to another via sexual contact. Some can also be transmitted via contaminated syringes and forms on nonsexual contacts like breastfeeding and childbirth. So far over 25 STDs have been identified with causes ranging from viruses, bacteria, parasites, and yeasts. The most common are chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, human papillomavirus and hepatitis B
Common STD myths
Contrary to popular belief, condoms only reduce the risk of contracting an STD, not eliminate it. Some like herpes can still be transmitted by skin contact. Unprotected oral sex is only slightly less risky than anal or vaginal sex since some STDs like HPV transmitted through oral sores. Bacterial STDs like syphilis and chlamydia can be cured. However, viral infections such as HIV and herpes are incurable.
Susceptibility to STDs
Simply put, women are more susceptible to STDs than men. Anatomical differences account for most of this since female genitals are thinner and moister making it easier to contract infections from men. Infections in women may also go unnoticed for longer since the genitals are less exposed. Infections in women are this more severe and may result in conditions such as cervical cancer pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if not treated promptly. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of having babies with low birth weight and ectopic pregnancies.
When to check for STDs
Testing for STDs is recommended at least once per year. Most infections are silent in nature and some, like HIV, may only become symptomatic many years after exposure. Some infections closely resemble commonly benign conditions such as urinary tract infections which explains why they go untreated for so long. This means regular testing is the only way to be certain.E ven though waiting for symptoms to manifest is, therefore, a very poor way for management, it is still important to lookout for signs such as itching, genital pain, unusual discharge either from the vagina or the penis and a urethral burn during urination as they may indicate an active infection.