Sexually Transmitted Diseases- Testing and Treatment
Although sex is a normal and healthy part of life, it is not an activity without risks. This is an unfortunate fact.It may be surprising to learn that there are more than 30 Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STDs. They can be unpleasant at the very least, and in the worst case scenario, they can even be fatal. It is human nature to believe that these diseases are not going to affect our lives, only other people's lives.
The fact is that 1 out of 4 Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 will catch one or more of these diseases during their lifetime according to health experts.
The problem is that you can be infected with a STD but have no symptoms. The tragedy of STDs is that millions of people can have them and be unaware until serious damage has been done to their bodies and the disease has been passed onto others.
Don't gamble with your health and future happiness. Be responsible by taking certain precautions which can keep you safe.
What can you do to be safe, protect yourself and protect others?
- Get the facts. Understand what Safer Sex means.
- Do not exchange body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk.
- Choose your partners carefully. Be clear about past sexual history and current health.
- Use condoms every time.
- Take responsibility for your health. Be certain that you do not have diseases which can be passed onto others.
- Have regular checkups for STDs at least once a year for both men and women who are sexually active.
- Women should have annual physical exams which include a pelvic exam, pap smear, breast exam and STD screen. Men should have annual physical exams which include an exam for cancer of the testicles and an STD screen.
- Limit your number of partners. One partner is the safest. Multiple partners mean more exposure and this increases the risk of STDs.
- Talk openly and honestly about your concerns with your partner. Don't compromise your health and safety.
- Don't wait until you are in the heat of passion to think about the risk.
- Stay in control. Alcohol and drugs can weaken your judgment and self-control. If alcohol and drugs are a part of your life, you should be clear that you may be vulnerable to unsafe sexual activity when under the influence which you may later regret.
- If you use condoms with nonoxynol-a substance which kills sperm or a spermicidal- you will have even greater protection against some diseases. However, spermicidals can also be irritating to your body and this can have a negative impact as well. Some people have an allergic or burning reaction to spermicidal.*** Some studies have shown that irritation can make you more vulnerable to infections. Douching, washing out the vagina, is also being looked at as a behavior which could make you more vulnerable to infections. There are condoms available with just plain water based lubricant, without spermicide, or just plain condoms without any lubricant.
If you discover that you or your partner may have a STDYou must be responsible and get tested and treated. Your partner should also get tested and treated. Take all of your medication properly. Do not have sex again until you are re-tested and cured.
PregnancyIf you discover you are pregnant or want to be pregnant, you should be examined and be tested for STDs. STDs can be passed onto a fetus. Some STDs can cause harm and even death to a fetus. STDs can cause birth defects and other health problems which could affect a child for the rest of her life. Take charge of your health and your life. Be responsible. Choose a doctor or health care provider with whom you can talk comfortably about your health. Although not always easy, it is important that you can talk about sexual concerns openly, honestly and without judgement.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National STD Hotline: 1-800-227-8922This hotline will answer general questions about STDs, their symptoms, transmission, treatment and testing, and can also provide referrals to clinics and other hotlines.
CDC National HIV & AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-AIDSThis hotline will provide information about HIV/AIDS, answer questions about testing and prevention, and will provide referrals to callers. They will also send out free literature on HIV and AIDS.
See Reproductive Health Links for more information on STDs, safer sex, birth control methods and more. Also see Resources and Links for information on related topics.