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Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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You’ve heard about sexually transmitted disease (STDs) continually throughout your adulthood. Everybody knows STDs are a dangerous and frightening reality. But do you know what they really are? Or how you can actually contract an STD? Or how serious they are? Or if you can find a cure? Or how to get tested? If you’re like many other sexually active women, you probably have a million questions about STDs and your health. Read on to find the answers to some of your concerns.

STDs range in seriousness and treatment options—from mild infections with little to no symptoms to more serious, and even fatal, diseases such as HIV. STDs are spread via sexual activity that involves the mouth, anus, vagina or penis. Contrary to popular belief, STDs can be distributed via vaginal fluid as well as semen. So, if you have been diagnosed with an STD, be sure to inform your partner and take the necessary protective and preventive measures.

Some STDs have no noticeable symptoms. However, some common symptoms of STDs include:

  • bumps, sores or warts near the mouth or vagina
  • skin rashes
  • inflammation or redness near the vagina
  • vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • itchiness near the vagina
  • painful urination
  • aches and pains
  • a fever and chills
  • weight loss
  • digestive problems, including diarrhea
  • night sweats
  • jaundice
  • vaginal bleeding, not menstruation
  • pain during sex

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider will be able to test you to see if you have a STD. Even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms, if you have had unprotected sex or multiple sexual partners, you should get tested for an STD. It’s important to be informed about your sexual health, and being tested will at least provide you and your partner with peace of mind. It’s also recommended that you have any potential sexual partners tested before you have sex with them. Although this may seem like “a lot to ask,” or you may feel uncomfortable asking, you’re always better safe than sorry. Think about the consequences of one sexual mistake, and think about living a lifetime with those consequences. One test is worth it, for the security and knowledge that you are safe.

If you’re diagnosed with an STD, there may be a cure for you. However, some STDs are not curable. Most symptoms may be controlled with certain antibiotics. You will need to be aware of these symptoms in order to avoid spreading the STD on to anyone else. If you have an STD, remember to use a condom every time you have sex and to always inform your partner of your condition. Listen to your provider’s advice to learn how to prevent spreading your disease.

  • Chlamydia: A treatable bacterial infection that can scar the fallopian tubes and cause infertility.
  • Crabs: Bugs or parasites that live on the pubic hair and in the genital area and are passed between sexual partners. Will go away with treatment.
  • Genital Herpes: A recurrent skin condition that causes skin irritation and sores in the vagina and/or anus and can be transmitted through oral sex as well as intercourse.
  • Genital Warts: Also known as human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus that affects the vagina, skin surrounding it, and the cervix. Symptoms vary from wart-like growths to abnormal cell growth. HPV can cause an abnormal Pap test and cervical cancer.
  • Gonorrhea: Commonly referred to as “the clap,” a treatable bacterial infection of the vagina that causes pain, burning and a pus-like discharge.
  • Hepatitis B: A chronic liver disease that can be transmitted through sexual fluid, preventable with vaccination.
  • HIV/AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus attacks the immune system and results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
  • Syphilis: A treatable bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body and affect the heart, brain and nervous system.

According to the American Social Health Association, 65 million people are living in the United States with an incurable STD. And every year, 15 million new cases of STDs are diagnosed. So, if you have an STD, you might feel embarrassed or ostracized. Remember in today’s world STDs are common, and treatment options as well as support groups and counseling options are available to you.

The best way to stay healthy and avoid STDs is to limit your sexual partners, always use a condom when having sex, and to get tested. If you have regular tests for STDs, notify your provider of your sexual behavior, and stay aware of symptoms and warning signs, you can promote good sexual health and avoid contracting an unwanted infection or disease.