The knowledge about the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases remains of utmost importance since it is easier to prevent than to cure.
In today’s article, I elaborated on the need to adopt this approach of prevention and other essential things you need to know about sexually transmitted diseases.
Preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), involves behaviors, medical practices, and public health strategies that can reduce the risk of spreading or contracting these diseases.
Kindly sit tight and read to the very last dot of this eye-opening content on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
FAQs on the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
See below for the answers you have been looking for;
Are STDs contacted or contracted?
The correct term is “contracted.” When someone is infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), we say that they have “contracted” an STD. The word “contracted” in this context means to acquire or become infected with a disease.
What are the treatments for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
STDs originating from bacteria or parasites can be effectively treated with antibiotics. However, there are no cures for STDs that are caused by viruses, although medications are available that can alleviate symptoms and decrease the likelihood of transmitting the infection to others.
Can sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) be prevented?
Utilizing latex condoms properly can significantly lower, but not entirely eradicate, the risk of contracting or transmitting STDs. If you or your partner have a latex allergy, polyurethane condoms are an alternative. Abstaining from anal, vaginal, or oral sex is the most effective method to prevent infection.
What are the numbers of known STDs?
There are more than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites known to be transmitted through sexual contact. Eight of these pathogens are linked to the greatest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.
Of these 8 infections, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections and are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
6 Routes by which STDs are transmitted
Here are the main routes of transmission:
This is the most common way STDs are spread. This includes any form of sexual activity that involves the exchange of body fluids or direct skin-to-skin contact. This means that vaginal, anal, or oral sex can all potentially spread STDs. The diseases that are most often spread through sexual contact include HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Some STDs, like herpes and HPV, can be spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area or sore, even if no body fluids are exchanged.
Shared Sexual Devices
Using shared sex toys without properly cleaning them or using a new condom each time can also transmit STDs.
Mother to Child
Pregnant individuals with an STD can pass the infection to their baby during childbirth, and sometimes during pregnancy. This is the case with HIV, syphilis, herpes, and others.
Some STDs, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C, can be transmitted through contact with infected blood. This is often a risk with shared needles or other drug paraphernalia, needle-stick injuries in healthcare settings, or sometimes even through a blood transfusion, though the latter is extremely rare due to thorough blood screenings.
Although rare, some STDs can be transmitted through nonsexual means. For instance, pubic lice (crabs) can be spread through sharing clothing, towels, or bedding.
Characteristics of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
A disease is classified as a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), or Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), if it primarily spreads through sexual contact. “sexual contact” includes any type of sexual activity involving the anus, vagina, or mouth.
- Transmission Through Sexual Activity: This is the defining characteristic of STDs. The infections are usually passed from person to person during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The microorganisms (like bacteria, viruses, or parasites) that cause these diseases inhabit the warm and moist environment of the human genital area, facilitating transmission during sexual activity.
- Presence in Body Fluids: The causative agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites) of STDs are typically present in certain body fluids like semen, vaginal fluids, or blood. They can also be present on the skin or mucous membranes of the genital area.
- Transmission Through Non-Sexual Means: While sexual activity is the primary mode of transmission, some STDs can also be transmitted through non-sexual means. For example, diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C can be spread through sharing needles for drug use. Some STDs, such as syphilis, HIV, and genital herpes, can also be transmitted from a pregnant individual to their baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Often Asymptomatic: Many STDs might not show any symptoms, especially in the early stages. This means an infected person can pass the disease on to others without even knowing they have it.
- Potential for Severe Health Consequences: If left untreated, some STDs can lead to severe health problems, including infertility, certain types of cancer, organ damage, or increased susceptibility to other infections like HIV.
Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Since you have waited until this very point, which is a good sign you are learning. Now, let’s take a deeper look at each of these preventative measures for sexually transmitted diseases:
- Abstinence: Abstaining from sex means not engaging in any sexual activity (vaginal, anal, or oral). This is the only surefire way to prevent STDs since these diseases are transmitted through sexual contact. However, this may not be a feasible or desired choice for many individuals, which is why it’s important to know about and consider other preventative measures.
- Mutual Monogamy: Monogamy refers to being in a sexual relationship with only one person at a time. If both you and your partner have been tested and do not have any STDs, and if you both stay faithful to each other, then the risk of getting an STD is extremely low. It’s crucial for both partners to get tested before entering into a monogamous relationship, to ensure they are starting the relationship without any STDs.
- Proper and Consistent Use of Condoms: While condoms do not provide 100% protection, they significantly reduce the risk of transmission of many STDs. They provide a physical barrier that can stop infectious secretions from being exchanged. For condoms to be most effective, they should be used correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
- Regular STD Testing and Treatment: This is essential because many STDs can be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) for long periods. Regular testing ensures that if you have contracted an STD, you can get treated promptly, reducing the chance of any long-term health complications and also reducing the likelihood of unknowingly passing the disease onto someone else.
- Vaccination: There are safe and effective vaccines available for certain STDs like HPV and Hepatitis A and B. They work by stimulating your immune system to recognize and fight off these viruses. For instance, the HPV vaccine is recommended for preteens but can be administered to anyone up to the age of 26 (and in some cases, even beyond that age).
- Educate Yourself and Others: Knowing the facts about STDs — how they’re spread, their symptoms, and how to prevent them — can help you make informed decisions about your sexual health. Misinformation and stigma can often create an environment where STDs can spread.
- Communication: Open and honest communication about sexual history and health is key to preventing STDs. It’s important to discuss with your partner(s) about past experiences, sexual health, and the importance of being tested. This way, you can create a more trusting and protective environment for both.
- Avoid Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Using drugs and alcohol can impair judgment and lead to risky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. It’s important to avoid substance abuse, not just for sexual health, but for overall health and well-being.
- Use Clean Needles: For individuals who inject drugs, using new, clean needles every time is crucial. Shared needles can carry blood that may contain an STD, like HIV or Hepatitis C. Many communities offer needle exchange programs, where used needles can be turned in for clean ones, reducing the risk of infection.
Symptoms of STDs in female
STD symptoms in females can vary greatly depending on the specific infection and often, they may be asymptomatic (i.e., show no symptoms), particularly in the early stages.
This is why regular testing is crucial for anyone who is sexually active. However, some possible signs and symptoms may include:
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: These bacterial infections can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, a burning sensation during urination, lower abdominal pain, and pain during sex. If the infection spreads, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which may cause severe abdominal pain and fever.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts: Some types of HPV can cause genital warts, which appear as small, flesh-colored bumps on the genital area. Other types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, which often doesn’t show symptoms until it’s more advanced.
- Herpes: Genital herpes can cause outbreaks of painful sores in the genital area. Other symptoms can include itching or burning in the genital area, pain during urination, and sometimes flu-like symptoms.
- Syphilis: This bacterial infection can cause a painless sore on the genitals, anus, or mouth in its early stages. If untreated, it can lead to a rash, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a variety of other symptoms. In its later stages, it can affect the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.
- Trichomoniasis: This parasitic infection can cause frothy, foul-smelling, yellow-green vaginal discharge, as well as vaginal itching and redness. There can also be discomfort during sex and urination.
- HIV: Early symptoms can resemble the flu, with fever, sore throat, and fatigue. As the infection progresses, weight loss, recurrent infections, and eventually severe illnesses may occur.
- Hepatitis B and C: Many people do not have symptoms, but some may experience fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and abdominal pain.
Who is at risk of contracting STDs?
Anyone who is sexually active can potentially contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, certain behaviors or circumstances can put individuals at a higher risk. These include:
- Having Unprotected Sex: Not using barrier methods like condoms or dental dams during sex increases the risk of contracting an STD.
- Having Multiple Sexual Partners: The more sexual partners a person has, the greater their risk of exposure to STDs.
- Having Sex with a Partner Who Has Multiple Partners: Even if an individual only has one partner, if that partner is sexually active with other people, the risk of contracting an STD increases.
- Sharing Needles for Drug Use: Sharing needles or syringes for drug use can transmit bloodborne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
- Age: Young people, particularly those in their late teens and early 20s, have higher rates of STDs than older adults. This is partly due to behaviors, but also because the cervix of teenage girls and young women is more susceptible to infection.
- Sexual History: Having a history of STDs increases the risk of future infections.
- Having Sex Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol: These substances can impair judgement and lead to risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex.
- Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM): MSM have an increased risk of contracting certain STDs, like HIV and syphilis, due to certain sexual behaviors.
- Lack of Vaccination: Not getting vaccinated for preventable STDs, such as HPV and Hepatitis A and B, increases the risk of contracting these diseases.
- Sex Workers: Sex workers may be at higher risk due to having multiple sexual partners, potentially having unprotected sex, or being forced into unsafe situations.
A final thought about the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is a vital component of public health. It’s essential to understand that anyone who is sexually active is at risk, and the consequences of ignoring that risk can be significant, potentially leading to severe health problems.
Education is the cornerstone of prevention. It’s important that comprehensive sex education, which includes information on how STDs are transmitted and how to prevent them, is widely accessible. Regular testing is another crucial aspect. Many STDs can be asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show symptoms, yet they can still be transmitted to others.
Vaccination is an effective prevention strategy for certain STDs like HPV and Hepatitis A and B. Access to these vaccines should be maximized to take advantage of this method of prevention.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing STDs and promoting sexual health which is one of the reasons I compiled this for you.