An STD, Sexually Transmitted Disease, is an infection you get from sexual contact with someone who is already infected with it.
THERE ARE MANY STDs, HERE ARE SOME OF THEM:
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea – causes cervicitis in women and urethritis in men
- Herpes virus – causes painful or burning sores, mostly in the genitals but sometimes around the mouth
- Syphilis – causes a painless sore at first, then a diffuse rash later and other whole body symptoms
- HIV – usually no symptoms for years, but then many symptoms that can be severe and life-threatening
- HPV – Human Papilloma Virus causes genital warts, and is also the virus that results in cervical cancer….yes, cervical cancer is an STD!
WHAT SYMPTOMS SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Some STDs have no symptoms, and others have lots of symptoms. Some things to look out for are:
For women: Vaginal discharge, itching, discomfort, lower abdominal pain
For men: Urethral discharge, burning on urination, scrotal pain
For both: Sores on or near the genitals, skin rash.
IF SOME STDS HAVE NO SYMPTOMS, HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO GET CHECKED?
Certainly if you have symptoms, go to your doctor or local health center and get seen immediately.
Routinely though, all sexually active women should get Pap smears done (test for cervical cancer) even if you feel fine. At the exam for the Pap smear, you can get tested for HPV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia at the same time.
Both men and women should be tested for HIV infection periodically, even if you feel fine.
HOW DO I PREVENT GETTING AN STD?
There are only a few proven ways to reliably protect yourself from getting an STD:
ü Not having sexual contact is the only 100% effective thing to do
ü Next best is to use condoms. Every time. Period!
ü Choose your partner carefully. The fewer partners you have, the lower the risk of an STD
ü Know your partner well. Ask them about their sexual history. Go get tested together. If you can't talk to them about sensitive stuff like this, you'll probably want to keep looking
ü Discuss the HPV vaccine with your doctor. HPV is the virus that causes cervical cancer
REMEMBER: DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS OR A HIGH RISK EXPOSURE TO GET TESTED!
VISIT YOUR DOCTOR OR LOCAL MEDICAL CENTER FOR REGULAR TESTING!