How true do you think this statement is, “sex outside marriage is the reason we have an STD epidemic”? If you think that the statement is old fashioned and has a touch of religious extremism, then you might want to think about the logic behind it.
If everyone was to wait until they got married to have sex and remain faithful to their spouse for the rest of their lives, don’t you think sexually transmitted diseases would be nothing but a bad memory? If there were any people suffering from STDs in the world, this number would consist of people who acquired the diseases from their parents, and their small number would make it easy for us to take proper care of them.
However, the above is just wishful thinking, especially in today’s society. Many young people are having sex as soon as they discover what it is, and their seniors are busy having sex with anyone, without regarding marriage or the consequences of their behaviour.
Health professionals have come up with measures to help reduce the spread of STDs, and these include reminding people to use condoms every time they have sex, teaching them how to use condoms correctly and encouraging people to remain faithful to one sexual partner. These efforts, together with the advances that the medical field is making in coming up with medication that can combat these diseases, is helping to save numerous lives around the world.
If you discover that you have an STD, it is not the end of the road. Having an STD should be an indication that you need to get onto a different path, a path towards recovery and great health. The worst thing you can do is spread an STD to someone else, knowing full well that you have it. Letting it end with you is a positive step towards getting rid of these diseases. Here are 10 of the most common STDs we have today:
Gonorrhoea is a very common STD, especially affecting people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. According to the CDC STD surveillance 2013, gonorrhoea affects slightly more than 2 out of every 1,000 Americans. Despite being a bacterial infection primarily affecting the genital tract, gonorrhoea can also develop in people’s throats, eyes, mouth, and anus, depending on the type of sex that such people choose to engage in. Gonorrhoea’s most common signs and symptoms include:
-The discharge of a thick, cloudy and/or bloody fluid from the vagina or penis
-Painful urinations that have a burning sensation, painful bowel movements, and itching in the anus
-Women bleed heavily during their periods and also bleed in between their periods
-Swollen and painful testicles for men
Abstinence is the surest way of not getting gonorrhoea. A condom will not completely eliminate your chances of acquiring gonorrhoea, but correct and consistent use of them will reduce the chances of acquiring it.
9. HIV and AIDS
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and it is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). This STD is incurable, and it is one of the worst STDs on the planet because it focuses on killing the body’s immune system, leaving it defenceless against all other diseases. According to CDC STD surveillance 2013, slightly more than 3 out of every 1,000 Americans have HIV, making it a very common STD. Although HIV has numerous signs and symptoms, some of the most common ones include:
-Flu-like symptoms (Fever, headache, fatigue, and sore throat)
-Extremely high fever
-Serious weight loss
-Coughing and shortness of breath
-Swollen lymph nodes
HIV and AIDS have claimed so many lives, especially in developing nations, and it continues to be one of the most dangerous STDs of all time. Abstinence is the best protection from the disease though; correct use of a condom will go a long way in preventing transmission and acquisition of it.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is very common among sexually active people, and it has very serious consequences when it remains untreated. Syphilis moves from one person to another through sexual contact, where an uninfected individual comes into contact with a syphilis sore in the infected person. Syphilis usually infects an individual’s genitals, mucous membranes, skin, mouth, or lips, and the more it is left untreated it can affect an individual’s brain and heart. The symptoms of this STD occur in its different stages, namely its primary stage, its secondary stage, its latent stage, and then its tertiary stage. Most common symptoms include:
-The development of chancres
-Skin rashes in mucous membranes and also large raised white lesions in the mouth, groin and underarm regions
-Damage to the internal organs such the heart, the brain, the eyes, nerves, liver, bones and joints, damage so severe it can cause death
If any of these symptoms are evident in your body, then you should immediately visit a doctor for treatment. Syphilis can be easily prevented through abstinence and remaining faithful to one sexual partner. A latex condom used correctly can also reduce some chances of acquiring the STD.
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs out there because according to CDC STD surveillance 2013 it affects approximately 9 out of every 1,000 Americans in the United States. Chlamydia can prove to be difficult to cure if it is not detected early or if an individual suffering from the disease just ignores it. Chlamydia is a form of a bacterial infection in an individual’s genital tract, and the disease can move from one person to another through having unprotected sex, oral sex, anal sex, and any other form of intercourse that involves the exchange of infected body fluids. The most common signs and symptoms of this STD include:
-Pain in the lower abdominal region
-Pain during urination
-Vaginal discharge in women and penile discharge in men
-Pain during intercourse for women and testicular pain for men
-Women bleeding before or after their periods
The surest way of not getting this STD is abstinence, though maintaining a monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner and using a condom properly will also help reduce your chances of getting it.
Small microscopic single-celled parasites called Trichomonas vaginalis are what cause trichomoniasis. This STD, like most others, is spread primarily through sexual intercourse, and it can be treated without any complications provided a patient avoids intercourse throughout the treatment and takes all the medication even after he or she feels better. According to the CDC STD surveillance 2013, approximately 85 out of 1,000 American women have it, making it one of the most common STD out there. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include:
-Vaginal discharge that can be clear, greenish, white, or yellowish
-Vaginal odour, itching, and irritation
-Discharge, itching and serious irritation in the penis
-Pain during urination and intercourse
Abstinence and limiting yourself sexually to only your marriage partner will ensure one never gets the disease, but correct and consistent use of a condom will also greatly reduce the chances of getting or spreading this STD.
5. Pubic Lice
Unlike other STDs on this list that are harmful bacteria or viruses with the ability to threaten an individual’s life, Pubic lice are a bit different in most aspects. First, pubic lice are small parasites that thrive in the hairs around genital areas. These parasites are majorly passed from one individual to another through sexual intercourse though even skin to skin contact is enough to ensure transmission of the same. The thing about this STD is that it causes more embarrassment to the people who have it compared to the health risks it poses. Getting rid of pubic lice is as easy as using any lice-killing shampoo on the infected area. According to HealthResearchFunding.org, pubic lice affect up to 10% of the human population at any given time, but the infection rate highly depends on the sanitation and level of hygiene of an individual and a community. The symptoms of this STD include:
-An irritating itch in the genital area and in pubic hairs
-Visible lice as well as eggs in the affected area
For this STD, a condom will not help you much, abstinence and a couple remaining faithful to each other are the only ways to avoid these pests completely.
4. Hepatitis A, B and C
Hepatitis A, B and C are viral infections that are estimated to be affecting approximately 5-6% of the American population. This viral infection affects an individual’s liver, causing it to be inflamed. It is important to go and test for any of the Hepatitis viruses because some might remain in the body for long and not show signs, but others will show clear signs. Therefore, people who have changed their sexual partners in the last six months, people who have multiple sexual partners, people who received organs or blood transfusion before 1972, and people showing the following signs and symptoms should seek medical attention:
-Yellowing of the white part of the eyes as well as the skin
-Nausea, vomiting, high fever, itching, and fatigue
-Abdominal discomfort around the liver area on the right side beneath the lower ribs
-Dark urine and loss of appetite
The best defence against the above forms of Hepatitis is abstinence. Treatments for Hepatitis depend on the type that one has, but as always prevention is better than cure.
3. Genital Herpes
Genital Herpes is an STD that a person with herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2 gets. This virus is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse or through mucous membranes, though it can even get into someone’s body through breaks in the skin. Any form of exchange of infected body fluids from an infected individual to an individual who is not infected will cause herpes to move to the uninfected person, and this makes its spread very easy. According to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 years has herpes, and most of these people have no idea that they have it. Although it is possible to miss the symptoms completely, some of the most common symptoms include:
-Sores/ blisters around the genitals, the mouth or the rectum
-Burning sensation during urination
-Bleeding between periods for women
Herpes has no cure, and it is possible to transfer it to another part of the body just by touching the discharge from the sores and touching another part of the body. Having sex increases the chances of spreading the disease, regardless of whether one has a condom or not.
2. Bacterial Varginosis
Bacterial varginosis is a disease that most women get several times a year during their reproductive life, and it is a condition whose cause is not exactly known. Popularly known as Yeast infection, any sexually active woman with the ability to bear children can get this condition. This condition occurs as a result of an imbalance in the growth of healthy bacteria in a woman’s vagina. A woman who has changed sexual partners or has more than one sexual partner is most likely going to develop bacterial varginosis, though a woman who has never had sex can also develop this condition. Signs and symptoms to look out for include:
-A burning sensation during urination
-Itching in the vaginal area
-Unpleasant smell coming from the vagina
The best way to reduce your chances of developing this condition is abstinence though it is easily curable and does not pose much health risk.
1. Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Human Papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease or infection that is very common among sexually active people. According to the CDC, nearly all sexually active men and women get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives, making it almost impossible to estimate how many people have it. HPV can move from the infected person to the uninfected person through the different forms of intercourse, and its symptoms can take even years before they surface. However, when it remains untreated HPV can lead to the development of genital warts and cervical cancer. Some of the symptoms of genital warts include:
-Fleshy or grey coloured swellings in an individual’s genital area
-Cauliflower shaped warts
-Discomfort and persistent itching in the genital area
-Bleeding during intercourse
Cervical cancer can be treated if it is detected in its early stages, but when it spreads too much it gets to a point of no return. HPV is also responsible for many other types of cancers, making it one of the most dangerous STD.