Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are most often, but not exclusively, infections spread via sexual intercourse. These infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
There are different types of STDs, including gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV), genital herpes, and HIV.
STDs are one of the most common types of contagious diseases, meaning they can be easily transferred from one person to another.
Transmission of STDs
There are several ways that an STD can be transmitted. The most common way is through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
STDs can also spread from a mother to a child during pregnancy or childbirth, through blood transfusions, and shared needles.
The risk of getting an STD increases if:
You have more than one sexual partner.
You become sexually active at an early age.
You have a history of STDs.
You share needles for taking drugs.
Symptoms of STDs
Symptoms of STDs vary from person to person and the type of infection contracted. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all.
Common symptoms of STDs in both men and women include:
Pain during urination and sex
Rash or itching in the genital area
Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding
Discharge from the penis
Warts, lesions, or sores in the genital or oral area
Lower abdominal pain
Blisters that discharge pus
Swollen lymph glands
Tips For Prevention Against STDs
Protecting yourself sexually involves not only learning about STDs but practising safe sex every time you engage in any sexual activity.
Avoid or minimize direct oral, anal, and genital contact. Use a condom or dental dam (for oral sex) every single time and use it correctly.
Form a trusted, honest, and communicative relationship with your partner about your sexual relationship.
Always examine yourself and your partner for any wart, ulcer, or lesion on genital or oral parts.
Limit your number of sexual partners and talk to your partner about your STD status.
Include STD testing as a part of your regular medical check-up.
Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B and HPV after consultation with your doctor.
5 Quick Tips to Practice Safe Sex
Educate yourself. Understand how each STD is passed from person to person during sex.
Decide to be safe. Insist on only safe sex. Deliberate before starting a sexual relationship with a partner and discuss past partners and STD history. Use a condom every single time.
Be vigilant. Do not use drugs or alcohol in potentially intimate situations as they can inhibit your ability to make safe decisions.
Talk about it. Talking with a partner is a key step in staying safe. Agree that both of you will get tested for STDs.
Get tested for STDs. There are different tests for each STD. No single test can screen for all STDs. Talk to your doctor and go by their recommendations.
STDs can affect anyone at any point in time. It is important to be aware of your body and health, to maintain sexual hygiene, to be transparent with your partner, and to practice safe sex.