Health // June 17, 2013
Sex is a normal, healthy and (hopefully) fun part of life. And when you are ready to get busy you, always take all the necessary precautions, right? RIGHT?? Unfortunately, even when we do play it safe, sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs) are always a risk when engaging in sexual activity. Most women know about HIV/AIDS, but what about those “sneaky” STDs/STIs that don’t show symptoms or you simply are not aware of? MWM demystifies the facts about STDs/STIs and tells you what to look out for.
Myth vs. Fact
MYTH: STDs always show symptoms
- FACT: Some STDs, like Gonorrhea, go undiagnosed and untreated because the person does not experience any symptoms.
MYTH: You can tell if someone has an STD just by looking at them
- FACT: Sexually transmitted diseases affect people from every racial, ethnic and socioeconomic background. Most do not have visible symptoms.
MYTH: Only promiscuous women are at risk for STDs
- FACT: Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STDs. You can get an STD or STI upon first contact.
“Sneaky” STDs to look out for
- The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). In fact, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives, according to the CDC. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms; however cervical cancer and genital warts are just two of the many health risks of HPV infection. HPV recently got national attention after Michael Douglas shared that it was the cause of his throat cancer.
- Chlamydia is known as a ‘silent’ infection because most infected people have no symptoms. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. This infection cancause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive health if left untreated. For example, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), eptoctic pregnancy and inability to get pregnant can result from lack of treatment.
- Gonorrhea is another common STD that affects 820,000 people in the United States each year. According to the CDC, most women with Gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. When a woman does have symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. If left untreated, Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus (womb) or fallopian tubes (egg canals) and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Most women who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected, and approximately 70 percent of infected people do not have any symptoms, according to the CDC. Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.
Whoa. So much information. But what can you do to protect yourself? Here are five ways to protect yourself from “sneaky” STDs/STIs:
- Wear a condom every time you have sex.
- Get tested with each new sex partner. In fact, you should get tested for STDs/STIs regularly if you are sexually active.
- Consider sex partners very carefully. Limiting the number of partners you have and talking about protection can help reduce your risk of an infection.
- Finally, abstain from sexual activity. It may seem difficult, but this is the only way to guarantee that you will not contract a STD/STI.
Now that you know the facts about common, sneaky STDs/STIs, make sure that you spread the word and strap onprotection before your next sexual encounter. Visit the CDC to learn more about how to prevent and treat STDs/STIs.