STDs: Be Prepared or they Could Happen to You

 By: John Smi
Whether we admit or not, we are living in a sexually permissive society. We see it everyday. Take a look at the music videos of popular artists with provocative suggestions of sex, as well as films touted to be artistically produced and directed. Even advertising makes use of subliminal messages of seduction to promote their products. There is really nothing wrong with sex if it's done safely and responsibly.

Boys and girls will normally get curious and interested about sex as they go through physical and emotional changes during puberty. And due to media and internet access, our youth are easily exposed to a lot of possibilities about sex. The risks of acquiring Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STD are high in this age group. It is the responsibility of the parents to strike a balance between teaching their teens about responsible sexual health while, at the same time, making them understand that the knowledge about safe sex does not give them a license to engage in sex with every willing party and at every available opportunity.

What is Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STD are diseases caused by viral or bacterial infections that can be transmitted through sexual contact. STD can affect sexually active men and women of all ages and backgrounds. People who are aware of STD may experience social, emotional and psychological stress due to guilt or embarrassment. But there is more to STD than stress and shame. These diseases are serious sexual health problems that may cause permanent damage such as infertility. If not given proper attention, STDs may even lead to serious complications and even death, as morbidly shown in the thousands of AIDS cases around the world.

But the good news is, STD can be treated. The spread of STD is due to the common misconception that only people who engage in sexual intercourse get the infection. STD, like herpes or genital warts, can be acquired through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area or sore. The myth that one cannot get infected through oral and anal sex is what it is --- a myth. Viruses or bacteria that cause STD can enter the body through tiny cuts or tears in the mouth and anus, as well as the genitals.

The fact that it is difficult to tell whether a person is infected or not makes STD spread easily. People who are infected may not even know that they have STD, thus, endangering their partners with the infection without even realizing it. Sometimes, it takes a long time before any signs or symptoms of STD appear.

The following are some of the most common STDs that affect sexually active individuals:

Chlamydia - is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacterial infection. Chlamydia often infects the cervix in women while the urethra, rectum and eyes can be infected in both sexes.

Gonorrhea - is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted and can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, anus and throat. It is possible to be infected with gonorrhea and have no obvious symptoms.

Crabs or Pubic Lice - are small, crab shaped blood-sucking parasites that live on pubic hair but can also be found wherever there is hair such as in the armpits, on the body, and even in facial hair such as the eyebrows. Crabs or pubic lice can also survive away from the body and may be found in clothes, bedding and towels.

Genital Herpes - is caused by the virus called herpes simplex and can affect the mouth, genital area, the skin around the anus, and the fingers.

Genital Warts - are small fleshy growths found anywhere on a man or woman's genital area, or on different parts of the body, such as the hands and anus. If a woman has warts on her cervix, this may cause slight bleeding or, very rarely, an unusual and colored vaginal discharge.

Syphilis - is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted and may also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child. Syphilis has several stages. The primary and secondary stages are very infectious.

STD Risk Factors

After knowing the types of STDs that commonly infect sexually active individuals, it is best to be informed about the following risk factors associated with sex-related illnesses:

•÷ Curiosity about sex among young people almost always lead them to sexual experimentation. The younger people start to have sex, the greater their risk becoming infected with an STD.

•÷ Promiscuity or having lots of different sex partners increases the risk of getting STD infections than those who stay with the same partner.

•÷ Lack of sexual responsibility or being unprotected during sex exposes individuals to possible risks of getting STD infections.

Prevention and Treatment

Just like with other medical conditions, preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases is much easier than treating them. Abstinence from all types of sexual contact may be the only way to prevent STD. But people do not have to deprive themselves of sex as long as they remain faithful to their partners or at least, try to use condoms and other birth control methods that also serve as sexual safety aids. Other birth control methods may help prevent pregnancy but only latex condoms can lessen the risk of getting an STD.

People who are sexually active should consider getting regular gynecological or male genital examinations to give doctors not just the opportunity to check for STD while they are still in their earliest and most treatable stage. Sexually active people should be well-formed about STDs and the various ways to protect themselves.

People should always be honest about their sexual history especially during consultations with doctors. The more you hold back, the more chances you allow STD to develop and cause more serious damage.

There is a delicate harmony that balances guilt-free sexual health awareness, self-worth, and social responsibility. Parents need to be more willing to hold open discussions with their children. It is the duty of the parents to prepare their children in the matters of physical, emotional and social dimensions of sexual health and its consequences. STD is a serious sexual disease. Remember: It could happen to you.
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