Don’t get your knickers in a twist

For many people, taking precaution and being safe when sexually active may seem unromantic and bothersome, but the reality of not taking care of your sexual health is a serious one.  In addition to the possibility of pregnancy, unprotected sex puts both partners in danger of contracting an STD. While some STD’s are easily cured with early detection and large doses of antibiotics such as penicillin, others have no known cure, resulting in chronic illnesses that can cause debilitating and even deadly damage to the body.

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Consequences of common STD’s

There are more than 25 different types of sexually transmitted diseases that infect millions of men and women, as well as sexually active teenagers. The physical consequences of contracting an STD vary depending on the specific infection. Many STD’s, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, have few if any symptoms, but if left untreated, they may cause serious damage to the body, in particular the reproductive system in women. There are also serious complications involved if a woman with an STD happens to be pregnant.  The risk of transmitting the STD infection or virus to the baby during the birthing process is extremely high and could result in severe damage to the child; in the case of syphilis, the damage to the child may take place while still in-utero.

STD’s such as genital herpes and HPV, which causes genital warts, result in more superficial physical symptoms, namely clusters of cauliflower shaped warts and herpes lesions or sores.

While most STD’s may be treated and even cured if caught early, infections that are allowed to continue can have a profound and serious effect on the body’s systems.  Neurological damage is a common result when STD’s such as syphilis are permitted to continue, while cardiac damage may occur if gonorrhea is left unchecked.  Untreated chlamydia in women can result in a severe abdominal infection called pelvic inflammatory disease or PID, which can lead to scarring throughout the reproductive system and infertility. Of course, the damage from chronic and debilitating STD’s such as HIV/AIDS are well-known; in some cases, other STD’s occur concurrently with HIV/ AIDS, and the severity and danger of the STD is greatly increased if concurrent with HIV/AIDS.

 

STD prevention and testing

For sexually active men and women, condoms are considered the most effective means of preventing STD transmission, specifically the male condom. If utilized in the correct manner, condoms are 97 per cent effective in reducing exposure to STD’s and subsequent infection. Even condoms are not fail-proof and there is still a chance, albeit small, that exposure to an STD may occur; in addition some STD’s such as hpv may still be transmitted even with condom use.

It is highly recommended that sexually-active men and women have themselves tested if they think they could have been exposed to an STD or think that they may have an STD. Free or low-costing testing is made available in many states via public health facilities.  In addition, many testing centers exist that focus exclusively on testing for and treatment of STD’s and may be researched easily online. For example, a simple search for the STD testing Atlanta, Georgia has to offer will produce a variety of results, including testing centers, treatment options and clinics, as well as counseling opportunities.