Having sex, even just once, puts you at risk for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Perhaps you’ve only slept with one person, but how many people has that person slept with? And, to take it a step further, how many people did those people sleep with? You get the picture. STDs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) tend to “stick” with a person. They are easily passed on to others through vaginal intercourse, oral or anal sex, and mutual masturbation. Some, you can even get by kissing.
What's the Difference Between an STI and an STD?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are pathogenic organisms that can be present in the human body without causing disease. It is when the STI progresses without treatment that it can begin causing damage to the body, when this occurs the STI has developed and is now considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Many STDs are asymptomatic, which means they cause no signs or symptoms of the infection.1 STDs are sexist -- they are much more harmful to the female reproductive system. STDs can also be transmitted to an unborn child during childbirth.
The number of STDs or STIs has grown rapidly. Before 1980, there were only a handful of common venereal diseases, now there are at least 25 different STDs.
Who's at Risk?
Anyone who is sexually active with multiple partners is at risk for an STD.
The earlier you begin having sex you are greatly increasing your risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Young people aged 15-24 are most at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Every year, 1 in 4 young people under 25 gets an STD.
What Are Some Common STDs?
Some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases are bacterial infections like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis--all curable with medication. There is also a protozoan infection called Trichomoniasis--also curable with medication.
It is important to note, however, that although the above STDs are treatable with medication, damage done to the body prior to detection and treatment can be irreversible.
There are also viral infections like HPV, Herpes and HIV which can be treated for symptoms, but have no cure.
So, How Can I Protect Myself?
Sometimes a condom helps and sometimes it doesn’t – this depends on the disease or infection.
The best way to protect yourself from an STD or STI is either through abstinence or by staying in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship like marriage – where neither partner is infected.
Just think … one moment of pleasure can affect the rest of your life.
How Can I Find Out if I Have an STD?
If you have been sexually active, there is a possibility you’ve been infected with an STD. Sometimes you have symptoms, sometimes you don’t. In order to have an official diagnosis, you’ve got to be tested by a physician.
You can gain an idea of what you may have been exposed to by answering a series of questions at www.STDWizard.com. Printing out the results of this survey and bringing them to your appointment will give your physician a good reference of your sexual history.
You can also call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 to find a clinic near you.
Let AAA Life Services Help You
Located within walking distance from Clarion University, AAA Life Services has a trained and caring staff that wants to help you with your STD or STI questions. All our services are free and confidential. Contact us at 814.226.7007
1 Medical Institute for Sexual Health; http://www.medinstitute.org/public/132.cfm 2008