Protection above all else.
An STI is a bacteria that can cause illness without the sign of any symptoms, giving it the name Sexually Transmitted Infection. While STD refers to infections that cause symptoms or problems, giving it the name Sexually Transmitted Disease. Not all infections turn into a disease but all diseases started from an infection. STIs and STDs were previously called “Venereal Diseases,” a term which derives from Veneris, or Venus the goddess of love, and according to the CDC, each year there are approximately 333 million new cases of STDs worldwide. Which made this article a necessity because being forewarned is forearmed and your physical safety should always come first.
Over 100 million Americans have an STD at any given time, and over 20 million cases of new STD infections are reported each year. Among the most common diseases: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Genital Herpes, Human Papillomavirus, Syphilis and Trichomoniasis. The ways of protecting yourself and your partner from such diseases differ, like vaccines for Hepatitis A, B, and some types of HPV; while others are actually incurable, or may cause death or infertility if not treated.
While having unprotected sex is the biggest risk of contracting an STD, catching it can happen in numerous other ways as well and no amount of precautions is enough. Pre-ejaculating can still transmit infection, withdrawing before ejaculation can do so as well, also known as 'the pull out method'. Douching before or after sex does not protect against neither infections nor deceases, in fact, it may promote infection after exposure to an STI/STD. And if you think mutual masturbation is a guarantee against diseases, think again, as such things as pubic lice, scabies, bacterial vaginosis cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and human papillomavirus can be contracted through masturbation.
HPV or Human papillomavirus is currently the fastest growing sexually transmitted disease, with a CDC estimate of 20 million Americans currently infected and nearly 6.2 million get a new HPV infection yearly. While most HPV infections cause no clinical problems and usually resolve their own without treatment, HPV is known to cause cervical cancer and genital warts. But researchers can identify the DNA of most HPV strains, which can be used to confirm the presence of HPV types linked to cervical cancer, and a vaccine is available for people for further protection against the virus, although it doesn’t cure existing HPV, it prevents any more from occurring.
Chlamydia on the other hand has serious life-time effects, with a single infection comes a 25% risk of sterility for women, a second causes the risk to grow up to 50%, and a third guarantees sterility due to pelvic inflammatory disease.
HIV is most common, frightening, and famous disease in our list, as whoever contracts it can have it develop into AIDS later in life. But the rates of it turning into AIDS varies greatly among individuals. Some who contract HIV develop AIDS very soon after while others full-blown AIDS won’t develop for more than 10 years. However, people with a previous STD are more likely to become infected with HIV due to their genital ulcerations which provide an easy route for the disease to enter the bloodstream. Most STDs can be accurately tested soon after exposure. HIV should be tested for more accurate results approximately six months after exposure. Getting tested regularly is something every sexually active person should do, not just for HIV, but any STD.
“One of the best ways to fight stigma and empower HIV-Positive people is by speaking openly and honestly about who we are and what we experience.”
Alex Garner, HIV Activist.
STDs like Syphilis can cross the placenta and infect the fetus while in the uterus. Other diseases, such as gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, and hepatitis B, can be transmitted from mother to baby during delivery through the birth canal. And much like Syphilis, HIV can travel through the woman’s placenta to her child, but unlike other STDs, HIV can also infect the baby through breastfeeding. As well as the risk of infecting the child, a pregnant woman with an STD may have labor complications, such as ruptures of membranes, uterine infections after delivery, or a stillbirth. The child may deal with low birth weight, eye infection (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, neurological damage, blindness, and liver disease.
Pubic lice, or Crabs, are small parasites that feed off of human blood. They can be transmitted sexually even with no penetration or the exchange of bodily fluids, and even with a condom. These parasites can live 24 hours off a human host, making it possible to get crabs from infested bedding or clothes. Animals do not contract crabs, making it only dangerous for humans, nor would you find them on top of your head as pubic lice are not the same as head lice. Symptoms are intense itching in your pubic region and eventually feeling feverish and irritable. Pubic lice are physical things that you can see in your pubic hair and not like a more serious thing like a STI that needs a test to check for. Though also unlike the other things listed above, Crabs are easy to get rid of with over the counter medicine.
STDs cannot be acquired in a swimming pool or public bathroom (unless you have sex there.) Most STDs spread only through direct genital contact and begin to die immediately after they leave the infected person if they don’t get in contact with a host.
While the origins of STIs and STDs are obscure, some researchers claim that microbes have adapted themselves to affect humans or may have possibly jumped from animals to human. And although condoms are 98% effective in most cases, the best way to prevent an STD is through conversations with your partner(s) and testing.