Sexually transmitted diseases, commonly known as STD’s or STI’s are prevalent in society. You may have heard of Gonorrhea (also known as the clap), Syphilis, Chlamydia and Trichomoniasis, all are examples of STDs. You can contract an STD by being sexually intimate with someone who is infected, you do not have to have full sex. In addition to vaginal, anal or oral sex, you can catch an STD from any practice that involves an exchange of body fluids. It can be passed from both sexes to both sexes. STD’s are easily spread and you are more at risk if you have multiple partners.
Unless you know that someone has an STD, you have no way of spotting it, you cannot tell from their appearance. Sometimes an STD will have no symptoms at all and so the infected person may not even know that they are infected. Sometimes the symptoms are very mild and hardly noticeable and sometimes they are mistaken for other illnesses. Some of the symptoms may include
● Discharge from the vagina or penis
● Pain when urinating
● Swelling or redness
● Weight loss
● Bleeding between periods or during sex
It is very important that if you notice unusual symptoms that you have them checked, even if they go away, as some symptoms can be present only for a short period of time, that however does not mean that the infection has gone. It may be nothing but you cannot assume that. If an STD is left untreated, it can have very serious consequences for your health. Untreated STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies, epididymis and unfortunately death in some very serious cases.
Often people are embarassed and don’t know how to go about testing. You do not have to go to a clinic and can instead purchase a test kit online. As you may not have symptoms, the only way that you can keep yourself free of an STD is by testing and that is why you have to do it regularly, the consequences of not testing can be very serious. The kit will contain all of the information that you will need and there will be full and detailed instructions available. It is essential that you read all of the instructions carefully and take your sample as instructed. You may be asked for a swab test or a urine test and it is important that you do not contaminate your sample in any way as a contaminated sample will not provide you with an accurate result. Once you have taken your sample, package it according to the instructions and post. Don’t forget to add your details. You will also be given instructions as to how to access the results from your sample which should be available very quickly.
You can choose what to be tested for and kits can test for multiple infections. It may be the case that you are infected with more than one STD, that is perfectly possible and not unusual.
If your result is negative, that is good news but remember to keep testing regularly. Sometimes it can take a bit of time after you are infected for the result to show as positive so do not always assume that a negative test means that you are totally clear, that is another reason why regular testing is important.
If however your sample returns a positive result, it is not the end of the world but it does however mean that you will need treatment. Most STD’s are very easily treated using antibiotics and the sooner you receive treatment, the easier your infection will be to treat. Some people might even use tools such as Home STD Test Kits in order to check if they actually have an STD. You can find a range through different resources online.
If your result is positive, it is important that you speak to any partners that you may have had and let them know that they also have to be tested, you can let them know how to obtain a kit. This can be embarrassing but it is something that you must do. When you are treated, it important that you wait until your doctor tells you when you can have sex again, sometimes you may have to wait a short time after treatment has finished, it is important that you do that.
Your treatment means that the current infection has been treated, it does not mean that you are protected for future infections and it is possible for you to become infected again.
The only way to be absolutely sure that you do not catch a STD is to abstain from intimate relationships and for most people, that is not an option. You can minimise the risk of catching an STD by using a condom. Condoms however do have to be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and if they are not used properly, you are not protected. Condoms can split or come off during sex and if that happens, you are not protected. You can also minimise your risk by having a long term pattern and remaining in a faithful and stable relationship.
When you take drugs or alcohol this can also put you more at risk as you may indulge in practices that you otherwise would avoid. Substance use can increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies and STDs, studies have been conducted and the link has been shown. Alcohol for example can lower your inhibitions and you may be more likely to indulge in casual sex with multiple partners, putting you in the high risk group for infections. People who use substances may also take more risks and have unprotected sex. Alcohol is also a factor in sexual assaults, so keep your friends close and arrange lifts home at the end of the night rather than walking home alone or with a stranger.
It is important that you educate yourself and do what you can to keep yourself safe. If anyone should try to persuade you to indulge in unsafe sex, it is important that you do not do that and walk away instead.