With STD’s being one of the most easily spread diseases in the United States, every man and woman should know how to protect themselves and their partner from STD’s. By knowing the facts, you can take steps to protect your health. If you missed part 1, you can view it here.
Syphilis is caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. If not treated, syphilis can infect many parts of the body, causing major health problems even death. Most people who no symptoms of syphilis. The first sign of syphilis may be painless, smooth sore at the site of the infection. Syphilis is easily treated in this early stage. Other symptoms of syphilis are warts and rash. Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores often occur on the genitals or in the vagina, anus or rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and mouth. Without treatment, the symptoms may go away but the disease will remain. Years later, it can return in full force.
Millions of Americans carry the genital herpes virus. The most common symptom of herpes is a sore on or around the genitals. These sores appear as red spots, bumps or blisters. They can last from a few days to a few weeks.
The symptoms go away by themselves, but the virus remains in your body. The sores may come back at any time, usually in the same place they first occurred. Treatment can help heal the sores, but it cannot kill the virus. Therefore, once you have herpes, it is impossible to transmit the infection to others without knowing it.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The rate of HIV infection is increasing most rapidly among women who have sex with men. HIV enters the bloodstream by way of body fluids, usually blood or semen. Once in the blood, the virus invades and kills cells of the immune system – the body’s natural defense against disease. HIV weakens the immune system, which may lead to AIDS. With AIDS, a person’s immune system is so weakened that other life-threatening conditions, such as infections or cancer can occur. Although there is no cure for HIV, treatment may prevent or delay the onset of AIDS, which can be fatal.
Trichomonas vaginitis is a microscopic parasite that is spread through sex. It can be cured with treatment. Many people have no symptoms of trichomonas. When symptoms do occur, they include discharge from the vagina and vaginal itching and redness.
Hepatitis is a serious infection of the liver caused by a virus. Two types of hepatitis, B and C, can be sexually transmitted. They can be spread by direct contact with the body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids) of an infected person. There is a vaccine available to prevent infection with hepatitis B. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection.
Many people infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C recover completely. However, some people do develop chronic liver infections, which may lead to long-term health problems.
How To Protect Yourself from STD’s
- Know your sexual partners and limit their number. Your partner’s sexual history is as important as your own. The more partners you or your partner have, the higher your risk of getting an STD.
- Use a latex condom. Using a latex condom every time you have vaginal oral or anal sex decreases the chances of infection. Condoms lubricated with spermicides have not been shown to reduce the risk of STDs any more than other condoms. In fact, some spermicides may cause genital irritation or lesions, which can increase the risk of getting an STD.
- Avoid risky sex practices. Sexual acts that tear or break the skin carry a higher risk of STDs. Even small cuts that don’t bleed let germs pass back and forth. Anal sex poses a high risk because tissues in the rectum easily.
- Get immunized. A vaccination is available that will help prevent hepatitis B.
If you think you have an STD, seek medical treatment to avoid long-term health problems. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.