Oh, the joys of sex!
Sexual intercourse is defined as a physical sexual contact between individuals that involves the genitalia (private parts) of at least one person. But we know where there are genitalia, there are bodily fluids, and where there are bodily fluids, there is the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Most people do not purposefully set out to get an STD but it happens and the only 100% way to prevent this from happening is abstinence (that means DO NOT HAVE SEX AT ALL). But, if you gotta have it, the next method of protection is barriers that help you from coming in contact with those genital bodily fluids such as condoms (both female and male condoms) and those barriers specifically made for oral sex such as dental dams. April is STI/STD Awareness Month and I’ve decided to share with you some of the most commonly sexually contracted infections and diseases.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus Virus) is the most common STI. It can be spread without penetration through skin-to-skin contact. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cervical cancer in women, genital cancer in men, throat cancers, or genital warts. It is harder to detect in men than in women. There are various treatments like freezing the cells, lasering the cells and removing the cells with a minor procedure. There’s even a vaccine to help prevent you from even getting it in the first place.
“Crabs” or Pubic Lice move from one person's hairs to another person's hairs when their genitals touch or are very close to each other. (Yes, it is a real insect that takes up residence in your pubic hairs!!) The symptoms include severe itching and little bugs that can be seen with the naked eye crawling in those hairs. If left untreated, you can develop infections from scratching. It can also cause your skin to change color and become scaly and scarred. Treatment for pubic lice (here is a picture of them) consists of decontaminating yourself, your clothes, and your bedding. To get rid of them you will have to use of over-the-counter lotions and shampoos that you put on your hair and skin.
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It may not have any symptoms, cause pain or burning while peeing, pain when you are having sex, lower belly pain, or thick discharge (see picture) from your vagina or anus. It can be treated with antibiotics, but you have to have a doctor prescribe them. If chlamydia isn't treated early, it can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems with your reproductive system such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can make it so that you can’t have babies, have chronic pelvic pain, or pregnancies in your tube which can be very dangerous.
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is spread by genital contact with someone who already has the virus. This includes vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The symptoms include pain, itching, and outbreaks of small sores that will form ulcers and scabs. There is no cure for herpes but medications can be used to manage outbreaks.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that, if left untreated, may cause you to not be able to have babies. You can have painful urination and discharge from the penis or vagina. Men may experience pain in their testicles and women may have pain in their lower belly. In some cases, gonorrhea has no symptoms. A doctor can prescribe medication to stop the infection, but it will not undo any damage already caused by the disease.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). There is currently no effective cure. Once people get HIV, they have it for life and if not treated it can lead to death. African Americans account for 42% of the new HIV cases despite being only 13% of the total population!!!!
With proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. Although treatments have helped people with HIV to live healthy, normal lives I don’t want to downplay how serious this disease is!!! HIV medication and all the doctors’ visits are very expensive and are there for the rest of your life.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE practice safe sex. This is only a few of the things that can happen and the problems STIs and STD can lead to. If you think you may have an STI or STD, contact a doctor immediately. Protect yourself, protect your health, and those that you have sex with.
WRAP IT UP!
Check out the next episode of The House Call with Dr. Dorsha about the dangers of unprotected sex: