The term sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) encompasses more than 25 different infections, all of which can be spread or are exclusively spread via sexual activity. Over 50 per cent of all people will contract a sexually-transmitted disease during their life so the risk of coming into direct contact with one of these diseases is a very real one, not only for teens and twenty-something’s, but also adults of all ages. Many of these diseases have circulated through populations for millennia; dismissed as the product of brothels and promiscuity, the outbreak of HIV and AIDS among diverse populations in the 1970’s and 1980’s focused attention on the reality of STD’s and how importance it is to practice safe sex.
The most common STD’s
The most commonly reported STD’s frequently have few if any actual symptoms. Chlamydia, which is the most often reported STD that annually infects more than three million people in the US alone, often has only minor symptoms, such as pain or burning upon urination or pelvic pain, yet can be extremely dangerous and damaging to the reproductive systems of women and men if left untreated. Gonorrhea, another STD with few if any symptoms, can also spread if left untreated, causing localized infections and even severe damage to the valves of the heart.
Hpv or human papilloma virus also has few if any symptoms. Though it infects both men and women, it is most often diagnosed in women via a gynecological test known as the Papanicolaou or Pap smear test. Hpv infections are the common cause of genital warts, and in most cases the infection will resolve itself in time; however, certain strains of hpv have been directly linked to types of cervical cancer. Vaccinations have been developed that help to immunize girls and boys in their teens against these more dangerous strains of hpv.
Genital herpes is another common STD. A strain of the herpes virus family that also includes shingles, cold sores and even chicken pox, genital herpes is a chronic disease with no known cure at this time. Outbreaks of the itching, painful sores can be controlled and treated with prescription medication and topical treatments, and safe sexual practices must be used, including condoms and abstinence during outbreaks, to ensure the disease does not spread.
Syphilis is another STD that may present with a variety of symptoms beginning with a firm but painless sore and followed by rash. Syphilis infection also goes through a latent period when no symptoms may be present. Untreated syphilis can result in damage to the central nervous system (seizures and dementia), the cardiovascular system (aneurysm), and the growth of soft tumors on the skin.
Safe sex and STD testing
Diligently practicing safe sex is the best way to avoid contracting an STD. The use of condoms throughout the world has greatly reduced the spread of many sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/ AIDS. With the proper use of condoms, the chances of acquiring an STD during sexual contact are reduced to barely three per cent.
Immediate testing is advisable for anyone who may have come into contact with an STD through unprotected sex or other means. Healthtestingcenters.com can provide information about STD testing sites that provide the discreet testing needed.