Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are some of the most easily spread infections of all, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Statistics show that a million new infections occur every single day, and these diseases can come in a range of forms, from syphilis to gonorrhea, with a plethora of possible symptoms.
Some STDs can appear to be relatively mild, with only minor symptoms or no notable symptoms whatsoever, but others can be deadly, and even the simplest of these infections can spread quickly from person to person and present a range of long-term risks, from genital pain and discomfort to permanent infertility.
In spite of these issues and risks, many people fail to truly acknowledge or understand the dangers they face in regard to STDs. This guide will inform you of all you need to know, covering some of the symptoms and causes of STDs, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent them.
Symptoms of STDs
Given that there are dozens of different types of STDs, each one caused by a different bacteria, virus, or parasite, the symptoms can vary wildly from case to case. It’s also common for symptoms to vary based on gender, with women suffering completely different symptoms from men with certain STDs. The following list covers just some of the most common symptoms:
- General pain and discomfort in the genital region
- Pain and discomfort around the rectum or in the throat
- Pain while urinating
- Pain while engaging in sexual activity
- Discharge from the vagina or penis
- Sores or lumps around the genital region
- Rashes developing around the body
- Swollen lymph nodes all around the body, but especially in the genital region
- A high temperature
One of the biggest problems with STDs is that many of them can go undetected for a long period of time, showing no major symptoms at all. This means that a lot of people can continue engaging in sexual activity and spreading the infection around, completely unaware of the dangers they’re dealing with and the risks they’re putting other people at. This is why it’s vital to get tested regularly.
Causes of STDs
There are many potential causes of STDs, with major culprits to blame:
- Bacteria – Bacteria can cause issues like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- Viruses – Viruses are responsible for many STDs such as herpes and HIV.
- Parasites – Some parasites, like trichomoniasis, can cause STDs too.
- There are also many risks a person can face in day to day life that might increase their chances of catching an STD, such as:
- Unsafe Sex – Not protecting oneself when having sex is one of the most common ways to catch an STD.
- Sex with Multiple Partners – The more people you sleep with, the greater your chances of encountering an STD will be.
- Rape or Assault – Victims of sexual assault may suffer STDs and be too traumatized or scared due to their experience to get tested.
- Drug Use – Some STDs can be passed between drug users who share needles.
- Alcohol Use – Those who drink in excess may be more likely to get infected as their decision-making abilities may be impaired.
Prevention of STDs
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of STDs, there are many ways you can reduce your risk of ever catching one.
- Abstinence – Those who choose not to engage in sexual activity of any kind are very unlikely to catch an STD.
- Safe Sex – Protected sex with condoms and other forms of protection can drastically reduce your risks.
- Sex with One Partner – If you remain with one partner and both get tested before engaging in any kind of sexual activity, you can feel confident that the chances of any STDs are very low for both of you.
- Vaccines – Various vaccines exist for certain STD-causing viruses like hepatitis.
- Communication – People should always communicate with one another before sex of any kind and make sure to check that any new partners have been tested before any kind of unprotected sex.
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol – Since drugs and alcohol can both increase your risk of STDs, avoiding them is strongly recommended.
The risk of STDs is ever-present, which is why it’s so essential for everyone to be aware of the risks and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and others safe. If you have any doubts or suspicions about STDs, be sure to speak with your doctor.