The Myths And Facts Of STDs
- Some STD in women may cause cervical cancer.
Today, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are the most common infectious diseases in the United States, with at least 25 different types affecting both men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
Types of STD
The many types of sexually transmitted diseases fall into three basic categories depending on the organism that causes them, which are either parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Bacterial STD, and the parasitic types, such as pubic lice or trichonomiasis, are able to be cured using medicine with an early diagnosis, but permanent damage such as scarring may still result. Many viral STD can never be cured, although some, such as herpes, can be treated or controlled with medication to reduce signs and symptoms.
Some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases today are:
- Chlamydia: The most common of all bacterial STD, and often referred to as "the silent STD" as there are usually no early warning symptoms for many people. Others may experience genital discharges, low-grade fevers, or painful intercourse, and or urination. Chlamydia, which is spread by any type of unprotected sex, is curable with antibiotic medication.
- Gonorrhea: Caused by a bacterium that thrives in moist, warm areas of the body, gonorrhea is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. With proper usage, condoms offer some protection against contracting gonorrhea, which is treatable with antibiotics administered either orally or via injection.
- Syphilis: Today, syphilis is treatable with antibiotics, such as penicillin, although this STD was once potentially fatal. Spread through any sexual contact, syphilis causes sores or open ulcers on the genitalia or mouth.
- Herpes: Herpes is spread through skin-on-skin contact and causes painful sores, itching, and flu-like symptoms. There is no cure for herpes and it is frequently contracted through contact with an infected person who has no visible symptoms.
- Human Papilloma virus (HPV): Genital warts, which may cause no outward symptoms, must be removed through freezing, laser treatment, or through the use of antiviral drugs. HPV is spread through sexual contact and may be detected during a gynecological examination.
- HIV/AIDS: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and currently, more than one million people in America are living with either HIV or AIDS. Flu-like symptoms are the most common, and there is no cure for AIDS, although several medications are used to slow the disease's progression.
Preventing an STD
Unfortunately, many people, teenagers in particular, never fully realize the risks involved with having unprotected sex and do not take measures to protect themselves. For example, an adolescent female is especially susceptible to certain diseases due to the fact that their cervix isn't yet fully developed, leaving the immature cells prone to becoming infected.
The 4 Most Common Myths About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
1. Myth: You can't get an STD if you have oral sex.
Fact: This myth is one that's most often believed by misguided teenagers and often results in contracting an STD. The three ways that STD are spread are through vaginal and anal sex, as well as through oral sex.
2. Myth: Taking The Pill will protect you from some STD.
Fact: This particular myth is perhaps one of the most dangerous of all, and more than likely the reason for many new cases of STD every day. While taking the birth control pill may help to drastically reduce the chances of pregnancy, it does not protect against any type of sexually transmitted disease whatsoever.
3. Myth: You can only get herpes when your partner has a visible outbreak.
Fact: The fact is, the virus that causes genital herpes is actually transmissible for several days before any visible signs of an outbreak even appear. Also, while condoms do provide some protection from some other sexually transmitted diseases, the areas where herpes blisters are usually present aren't protected or covered by a condom.
4. Myth: I have no signs of an STD, so I must not have one.
Fact: If you are having unprotected sex, there's always the possibility of contracting an STD. Some people, especially many women, do not show any signs of a sexually transmitted disease, or mistake them for some other condition, delaying diagnosis and treatment.
10 Quick Facts of STD
- An estimated 65 million people are currently living with an STD in the US alone.
- There are roughly 15 million new cases of STD each and every year.
- One out of every four new cases of an STD occurs in a teenager.
- One out of every four Americans is infected with genital herpes.
- 80% of all people with genital herpes are unaware that they are even infected.
- Over the course of their lifetime, one out of every four Americans will contract an STD.
- Up to 15% of female infertility and 12% of male infertility cases are caused by an STD that was left untreated.
- Some STD in women may cause cervical cancer.
- A woman may pass an STD on to her unborn child during the delivery, or shortly after giving birth.
- It is possible to become infected with more than one sexually transmitted disease at a time.
The facts of STD are undeniable so always use caution. Although condoms offer some protection from STD, abstinence, or a completely monogamous relationship between two people who are not infected are the best ways of protecting yourself from contracting a sexually transmitted disease.