You may think you know all about STIs, but what you don’t know could put you at risk. Take a few minutes and get the facts for a happier, healthier sex life. If you are concerned about your sexual health, discuss with your physician or doctor.
What is an STI?
STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. These diseases are sometimes known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). An STI is any infection that is passed by body fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. These fluids include semen (cum), vaginal fluids (the wetness in the vagina) and blood. A latex condom acts as a barrier to prevent these fluids from being exchanged. But, an STI can also be spread by contact with the skin of the genital or anal area if infection is present. It can also be spread by contact inside of the mouth. If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you are tested early and often for STIs.
Am I at risk for STIs?
If you are sexually active you may be at risk for STIs. Remember, when you have sex with someone, you are potentially exposed to STIs that anyone they’ve had sex with before you may have had.
You may have heard them referred to by funny names, so to set the record straight, some common types of STIs, along with their associated symptoms and consequences, are listed below:
(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome/Human Immune-Deficiency Virus)
- Symptoms of AIDS show up several months to several years after contact with the HIV/AIDS virus.
- Persistent flu-like symptoms.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- White spots in mouth.
- Purple bumps on the skin and inside mouth, nose or rectum.
You can give HIV/AIDS to your sexual partner or someone you share an intravenous needle with. HIV/AIDS cannot be cured at the present time. Most people eventually die from the disease. A mother with HIV/AIDS can give it to her baby in the womb.
Symptoms may be minimal or absent entirely. Symptoms may show up 7-21 days after having sex. Most women and some men have no symptoms. It is increasingly seen in the throats of men and women engaging in oral sex.
- Discharge from the vagina.
- Bleeding from the vagina between periods.
- Burning or pain upon urinating.
- Pain in the lower abdomen, sometimes with fever and nausea.
- Watery, white discharge from the penis.
- Burning or pain upon urinating.
You can give Chlamydia to your sexual partner. Chlamydia can be cured with oral antibiotics (it’s a bacterial infection). When untreated, Chlamydia can lead to more serious infection. Reproductive organs can be damaged, resulting in sterility. A mother with Chlamydia can give it to her baby at childbirth causing pneumonia or an eye infection. It can also be a cause of premature delivery.
(Clap, Drip, GC)
Symptoms show up 2-21 days after having sex. Many women and men have no symptoms or very mild symptoms that are easily mistaken for a urinary infection. In men and women infection of the throat may cause soreness or no symptoms whatsoever.
- Thick green or yellowish discharge from the vagina.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
- Burning or pain upon urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Thick green or yellowish discharge from the penis.
- Burning or pain upon urinating.
- Sometimes men get painful or swollen testes.
You can give Gonorrhea to your sexual partner. Since it’s a bacterial infection, it can be cured by oral antibiotics. When untreated, Gonorrhea can lead to a serious infection. Reproductive organs can be damaged, resulting in sterility. A mother with Gonorrhea can give it to her baby at childbirth causing an eye infection, joint infection or even a life-threatening blood infection.
- HEPATITIS B VIRUS
- Fatigue, nausea and aches.
- Loss of appetite, darkening of urine, and tenderness in the stomach are additional symptoms.
- Many cases go undiagnosed because symptoms are suggestive of the flu. Yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice) can occur later or not at all.
Infected individuals sometimes have never had any symptoms but are still carriers. You can give Hepatitis B to your sexual partner. It can cause chronic, persistent inflammation of the liver, possible cirrhosis or even liver cancer. A mother with Hepatitis B can give it to her baby at childbirth. There is a very effective vaccine against Hepatitis B that should be taken by everyone between the ages of 0-18 who has not been previously vaccinated.
- (GENITAL) HERPES
There are two types of herpes virus.
- Herpes Type 1 most frequently causes cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth. Type 1 can cause genital or rectal outbreaks.
- Herpes Type 2 is the most frequent cause of genital (sex organ) herpes. Type 2 can cause oral or rectal outbreaks.
Either type can be passed between the genitals and mouth via oral sex. Symptoms show up 2-30 days after having sex. Most people have no symptoms. Those that do exhibit flu-like symptoms. Herpes can cause small, painful blisters that break leaving ulcers. These outbreaks, although less intense than the first, which will often reoccur over a person’s lifetime. Often there is itching or burning before the blisters appear. Blisters last 1-3 weeks. After blisters have healed, you still are a carrier of the herpes virus.
You can give Genital Herpes to your sexual partner. There is no cure, but medication can reduce the pain and frequency of outbreaks. Although rare, a mother with Genital Herpes can give it to her baby at childbirth and cause a potentially life-threatening infection.
(Syph, The Pox)
- 1st STAGE: Symptoms usually show up 3-4 weeks after having sex: a painless, reddish brown sore. Sores develop at the site of contact with an infected individual, typically external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. The sores last 4-8 weeks in untreated individuals. After sores heal, you still have Syphilis.
- 2nd STAGE: Symptoms show up six weeks to six months after having sex: a rash anywhere on the body, often on the palms of hands, soles of feet, or genital area, and flu-like feelings. Rash and flu-like feelings go away, but you still have Syphilis.
You can give Syphilis to your sexual partner. The organism that causes syphilis can be killed with antibiotics. A mother with Syphilis can give it to her baby at childbirth. When untreated, Syphilis can cause heart disease, brain damage, blindness and/or death. If caught early, you may not experience any health problems associated with this disease.
A parasitic infection of the genital area. Itching, burning or pain in the vagina. Yellow or green discharge from the vagina or penis. Discharge frequently smells unpleasant or looks different. Some women and most men have no symptoms.
You can give Trichomoniasis to your sexual partner. Antibiotics can cure the infection. In women, Trichomoniasis can cause complications during pregnancy.
- (GENITAL) WARTS
(HPV) Human Papillomavirus
- A viral infection. Symptoms show up 1-6 months after having sex.
- Small, bumpy warts on sex organs and anus.
- Most people with HPV have no symptoms but are still contagious.
HPV is the cause of cervical cancer in women. It has also been associated with cancers of the penis and anus. There is no cure for HPV but there is a very effective vaccine against the types of HPV that can cause cancer and external genital warts. While warts can be removed, the virus may stay in the body and cause future outbreaks. You can give Genital Warts to your sexual partner even when there are no warts present. When untreated, Genital Warts continue to grow and are harder to get rid of. They can also cause an increased risk for infection of other STIs. A mother can give Genital Warts to her baby at childbirth.
If used properly, latex condoms will help to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV infection (AIDS) and many other sexually transmitted diseases.