You can acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD) through unprotected sexual contact. The virus, bacteria, or parasites causing STDs are transmittable through exchanging vaginal fluids, semen, blood, and other bodily fluids. In some cases, an STI can be acquired non-sexually through skin-to-skin contact, blood transfusion, sharing needles, or from mothers to infants during pregnancy and childbirth. Keep in mind that STDs can be asymptomatic, so it is possible to contract one from someone who seems otherwise healthy.
Types of STDs
There are many sexually transmitted diseases, including:
- Genital herpes.
- Genital warts.
- Human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Human simplex virus (HSV) etc.
Symptoms of an STD
The symptoms of an STD range from mild to severe, depending on the severity. Some STDs are asymptomatic and may go unnoticed until a partner is diagnosed or complications occur. Some signs and symptoms that indicate an STD include:
- Discharge from the penis.
- Pain during urination.
- Unusual or smelly vaginal discharge.
- Pain during sex.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
- Lower abdominal pain.
- Sores or bumps around the genital or rectal area.
- Sore or swollen lymph nodes.
- Rashes on the trunk, feet or hands, etc.
Depending on the STD, symptoms may occur a few days after exposure, or it might take years before you experience any noticeable symptoms.
You should see a doctor or consider an online std consultation when you notice any sign or symptom of an STD or when you are sexually active and may have been exposed to an STD.
Causes of STDs
- Bacteria causes STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
- Viruses cause HIV, HSV, HPV, and genital herpes.
- Parasites cause an STD known as trichomoniasis.
What are the risk factors?
Any individual is at risk of contracting an STD if they don’t practice safe sex. Factors that increase the chances of acquiring an STD include:
- Having unprotected sex- vaginal or anal penetration without the use of condoms involves the exchange of bodily fluids that can transmit STDs. Oral sex is less risky, but it can still transmit such infections.
- Having a history of STDs makes it easy to catch another one.
- Having multiple sexual partners.
- Misuse of alcohol and drugs- substances impair your judgment and make you more willing to participate in risky behavior like unprotected sex.
- Needle sharing when injecting drugs makes you susceptible to STDs like HIV and hepatitis B and C.
- Forceful sexual activity such as rape can increase your risk of acquiring an STD, which is why you must see a doctor immediately when that happens. That way, you can get tested, treated, and receive emotional support.
- Younger people between the age of 15-24 are also at a higher risk of catching STDs.
- Practice safe sex.
- Stay faithful to one sexual partner.
- Get vaccinated against certain STDs such as HPV, hepatitis B, and C.
- Use condoms when you don’t trust your partner.
- Consider male circumcision.
- Wait and test when you suspect you have an STD.
It is essential to communicate with your sexual partner about practicing safe sex to ensure you protect each other from STDs.