STDs : The “Silent” Infection
Let’s face it. Sex is a fact of life. But today’s increasing sexual liberation and tolerance have resulted in unconventional practices and encouraged sexual orientations that were once considered taboo to be accepted by quite a number of people. Without passing judgement to those individuals who prefer to experiment in their sexual affairs, this liberal attitude and behavior could lead to serious consequences if parameters to a pleasurable and safe sexual activities are not observed and met. The same is also true with the general public who lacks proper understanding and appreciation of sexual health issues and standards which could lead to neglect of their partners’ sexual rights.
Every sexual encounter should be coupled with a responsible attitude. The lack of it can result in unwanted pregnancy that may lead to emotional and psychological complications, not only for the parents but also the child. Unprotected sex also exposes sexual partners to a high risk of contracting chronic sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Do not be deceived. Even the seemingly healthy person beside you can be afflicted with sexually transmitted disease without you or that person knowing it. Though some STDs may produce obvious symptoms, most STDs are asymptomatic infections that do not show noticeable signs and symptoms. Thus, they can be called the “silent” infection. These cases can only be diagnosed through medical testing. However, there is no widespread program that requires routine check-up. Moreover, there seems to be a lack of public awareness aggravated by the social stigma regarding STDs that keeps people from discussing it with their chosen health care professionals.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are diseases caused by by viruses, bacteria and parasites and can easily be transmitted through body contact during sex. Sometimes, STD takes a long time to display any kind of symptoms. The following are some of the most common STD that affect sexually active individuals:
l Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacterial infection. It is the most common treatable bacterial STD but if not given proper attention may cause serious problems later in life. Chlamydia often infects the cervix in women while the urethra, rectum and eyes can be infected in both sexes. Symptoms of infection may show up at anytime between 1 to 3 weeks after exposure, or it can also be delayed for indefinite period of time.
l Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted and can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, anus and throat. Symptoms may show up at anytime between 1 and 14 days after exposure and more noticeable in men than in women. However, it is possible to be infected with gonorrhoea and have no obvious symptoms.
l Crabs or Pubic Lice are small, crab shaped blood-sucking parasites that live on pubic hair but can also be found wherever there is hair such as in the armpits, on the body and even in facial hair such as eyebrows. Crabs or pubic lice can also survive away from the body. They may be found in clothes, bedding and towels. You can have crabs and not know about it until after 2 to 3 weeks when you experience some itching. Crabs are mainly passed on through body contact during sex, but they can also be passed on through sharing clothes, towels or bedding with someone who has them.
l Genital Herpes is caused by the virus called herpes simplex and can affect the mouth, genital area, the skin around the anus, and the fingers. After the first outbreak of herpes is over, the virus hides away in the nerve fibres and remains totally undetected without causing any symptom. Symptoms usually appear one to 26 days after exposure and last for two to three weeks. Symptoms include an itching in the genital or anal area, small fluid-filled blisters that can burst and leave small sores which can be very painful, urine discomfort, and a flu-like illness, backache, headache, swollen glands or fever.
l Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). These are small fleshy growths found anywhere on a man or woman’s genital area, or on different parts of the body, such as the hands and anus. After you have been infected with the genital wart virus it usually takes between 1 and 3 months for warts to appear on your genitals. They may occur singly or in groups. They may itch, but are usually painless. Often there are no other symptoms. If a woman has warts on her cervix, this may cause slight bleeding or, very rarely, an unusual coloured vaginal discharge.
l Gut Infections are bacterial infections that can be passed on during sex. When they reach your gut they can cause diarrhea and stomach pains. Infection can be prevented through using condoms, dental dams or latex gloves. Sex toys should be thoroughly cleaned after use and hands washed after any contact with feces. Anti-diarrhea treatments and antibiotics can be used for treatment.
l Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted and may also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child. The signs and symptoms of syphilis are the same in both men and women. They can be difficult to recognize and may take up to 3 months to show after having sexual contact with an infected person. Syphilis has several stages. The primary and secondary stages are very infectious.
It is very important that an STD is detected early and treated before it becomes seriousand lead to long-term complications or permanent damage. Abstinence is the surest thing to avoid contracting an STD. If you are sexually active; the practice of safe sex can greatly help in minimizing risk from STD. Always use condoms during sexual intercourse or dental dams for oral sex. Make sure to sanitize sex toys before and after use. Observe genital hygiene routines, as well as keeping your hands clean at all times. Consult with your professional health care provider for advice on getting tested for STD.