For some, talking about sexually transmitted disease (STD’s also referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs) in general, whether it be on the first date or even the 12th, is not something that comes naturally. No one really wants discuss such a topic, but it’s important to know the facts about STD’s, what they entail, how to protect yourself and what the risks really are. You may think you know everything there is to know about sexually transmitted diseases, but you can never have too much information on this particular subject and knowing your status is extremely important. We explore a few interesting points here:

1. Most STD’s are symptomless

That’s right, you could have an STD right now and not even know it! It is estimated that over 1 million new sexually transmitted infections are acquired each day. The alarming things is that common STD’s such as gonorrhea, trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite), and chlamydia have no obvious symptoms initially and so many people that are infected don’t even know it. Symptoms of most STDs can take weeks, months or even years to show. This means that many infected individuals ultimately go around unwittingly spreading these STD’s.

This is why if you’re sexually active, you should ensure that both you and your partner are tested on a regular basis.

2. Condoms won’t protect you from every STD

If you think that by using a condom, you’ll be protected from all of those scary and potentially dangerous STD’s, think again! While, condoms can significantly reduce your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, condoms are not going to protect you from every STD.

Some of the STD’s that could be transmitted even with the use of a condom include, syphilis, genital herpes, crabs / pubic lice, human papillomavirus and molluscum contagiosum. This is because these types of STDs often occur on the skin of the infected person. These areas are often exposed to the areas of a partner’s body that are not protected or covered by a condom during the various acts involved in sexual intercourse.

Some STDs are also transmissible via oral sex, a fact that most people also don’t realize.

Ultimately, the only ways to protect yourself from STD’s are to commit to a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected with an STD or abstain from sexual activities altogether. Another option is to both be tested, share your results openly and if a STD is diagnosed in either party, seek medical treatment and abstain from sexual intercourse until the infection is cleared (if this is possible) and then follow the advice of the doctor involved as to how to proceed safely.

3. STD’s can lead to infertility

If you are at that stage of wanting to settle down and are ready to start a family, it’s imperative that you get tested, whether you have been in a monogamous relationship or not. For both males and females, undiagnosed STD’s can lead to infertility. For women, an STD could result in the pelvic area becoming seriously infected, as well as fibrosis (scar tissues) forming which may result in infertility. For males, scaring on the tubes or damage to their testes may result in infertility.

Even if fertility is not compromised by an STD, many can cause serious birth defects in a fetus, so getting tested if you are considering having a baby is imperative.

4. You can test for STD’s in complete privacy

For many who would like to know what their STD status is, the mere thought of going into a clinic and discussing the issue with a medical professional is often absolutely mortifying. This should not be the case as medical professionals get these types of requests on a regular basis. If, however, you simply can’t bring yourself to do it in person, you do have the option of ordering and performing an at home std test. These test kits include specific instructions on how to administer the test and selfcollect the samples required. Some offer results immediately, although these are less reliable than the options where samples are sent to the lab for analysis. Other tests allow you to anonymously book your test and report to a lab for sample collection and analysis – no questions asked. Regardless of the method you’ve opted for, when going with either lab option, the results are generally available in a few short days and the details are emailed through to the person undergoing the testing.

5. Sex could be rather painful if you have an STD

STD’s such as Gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, herpes and pelvic inflammatory disease may result in painful sex and a negative sexual experience to boot. Many people attribute the discomfort or pain to something else rather than equating it with the possibility of having an STD.

6. Some STD’s can have long term complications

You’ll need to ask yourself if not being tested is really worth all the risk that comes with it. In a hookup culture where infections are rife, you really need to be fully aware of the fact that if you are sexually active, you need to take precautions and get tested regularly – not only for yourself but for future partners and relationships as well.

Many STD’s if left untreated, can result in severe health issues such as cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy or even congenital infections in babies that are born to mothers who are infected. It’s advisable that you get tested regularly and seek the various treatment methods available if you are diagnosed with an STD.

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