If you’re sexually active then you need to be aware of sexually transmitted infections, or STI’s as you might have already heard them called. Yes –they are the “things” that no one wants to talk about, but they are the “things”, infections, diseases and viruses that you need to know about if you’re thinking about sex and especially if you are already having sex.
Don’t just pull the blanket over your head and think that it won’t happen to you – if you are having sex and don’t use a condom you’re putting both yourself and your partner’s health at risk – you might have an STI and not even know about it.
It won’t hurt to talk to your doctor or someone at your local Family Planning Clinic if you think you have an STI – why not just get a regular STI / health check just to be sure. It’s nothing to be afraid of when you’re thinking about sex, but unfortunately there are quite a few STI’s around the world that we think you should know a bit more about.
Here at Sex ‘n Stuff we’ve put together a list of the most common STI’s, but if there’s one you’ve heard of and it’s not covered here please send us your question and we’ll research the answer for you.
Guys and gals this is an STI you should really be aware of as it mainly affects people under the age of 25. Spread by unprotected vaginal or anal sex with an infected person, it’s also called the “silent infection” as it’s an STI with no symptoms.
Gals, chlamydia trachomatis (as the doctors like to call it) has some serious side effects. Worst case scenario with this STI is possible pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and if you were to have a baby whilst infected it could result in the baby having serious lung and eye infections. For the guys, chlamydia can result in pain and swelling in the testicles.
Have a regular sexual health check at your doctor or the local Family Planning Clinic – if you catch this one early antibiotics will treat it. Again, practicing safe sex will help reduce your risk of getting an STI.
You need to know about genital herpes guys and gals– it’s an STI that’s pretty common. To give you the medical term, genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV1 and HSV2. Remember, using a condom is important. Genital herpes is spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex and if you’ve got a cold sore make sure oral sex doesn’t form part of your foreplay at this time – it’s easy to remember why this is so important, the herpes virus is spread from skin to skin contact.
It’s nothing to be afraid of but again you may not even know you have this one – the symptoms could easily be mistaken for something else. Symptoms can include blistering around the genitals, flu like symptoms, a rash, redness, and you might even have trouble going to the toilet due to swelling in your genitals.
If you think you have genital herpes, or any form of STI, get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible – there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Sex is an enjoyable part of life, genital warts are not. Not to be confused with genital herpes, genital warts are one of the most common STI’s there is. You might have heard of the medical term or vaccination program for HPV at school – doctors call it the human papilloma virus, and believe it or not, but there are more than 100 different types of the virus.
It’s important to know that just because you don’t have a visible wart it doesn’t mean you’re not carrying the virus on your skin. The wart itself might even be inside your vagina, rectum or urethra or just around the genitals or anus – they also come in many shapes and sizes.
Again guys and gals, genital warts is another reason to practice safe sex and always use a condom – this STI is also spread by direct skin to skin contact during vaginal and anal sex.
As a gal, if your 12-13 years old, you might be able to get the vaccination for HPV at school, and for the guys aged 14-15 you too might be eligible. If not, make sure you ask your doctor or head down to your local family planning clinic – the vaccination works best if given before you are sexually active.
For more information on HPV, go to: http://hpv.health.gov.au/
Gonorrhoea is an STI that affects guys and gals in different ways. The good news is that if you use a condom properly, you reduce your chances of getting this one. Proper use of a condom also helps to stop the spread of gonorrhoea to others. This is especially important for girls as it can cause infertility and you may not even know you have it – not all women have any clear symptoms for this STI. Guys – if you experience a burning sensation when going to the toilet make sure you get it checked out by your doctor or book an appointment at your local family planning clinic as you will need a course of antibiotics to clear things up.
Now then…this STI is the most serious out of the bunch guys and gals – so take note as there is currently no cure, we’re not telling you this to scare you, it’s just the reality so we want you to know about it and how to protect yourself.
The virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to be exact, is what causes AIDS, or as the doctors will call it, acquired immune deficiency syndrome. You can get HIV by having sex without a condom, sharing a needle or other injecting equipment with a person who is infected.
HIV is serious as it weakens the immune system, making it easier for different infections and cancers to affect your body. Although it may take some time, the virus is also what causes AIDS.
It’s important to have regular sexual health checks, and again the serious nature of this virus is a good reminder to us all about wearing a condom – this will protect both you and your partner and help stop the spread within our communities.
Pubic lice has so many names and can affect many different parts of the body – basically anywhere that has hair, like your armpit hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and even your chest hair.
You might have heard of the other names for pubic lice, crabs, and no we’re not talking about the kind you see on the beach.
Crabs, or pediculosis pubis, are parasites that are small and flat in shape and light brown in colour.
You need to know about this STI as they can be spread from direct skin-to-skin contact and even from towels and bed sheets if someone has them.
Clinging to pubic hair (and other hair on your body), these parasites won’t cause you serious harm, but they will suck your blood for nourishment and they can be irritating as they cause small red sores that can be really itchy.
If you have an itch that you’re unsure of, it’s always a good idea to get it checked out by your doctor – why not get a full sexual health check up while you’re there if you’re sexually active.
Although this STI can be easily treated, another reason to practice safe sex is syphilis. This STI has a varied incubation period (10 days through to 3 months) and is highly contagious.
Again, some people may not even know they have syphilis – not everyone will have symptoms. Although condoms and dams will reduce the risk, syphilis is passed on by close skin-to-skin contact and when the sore or rash is visible you will be at higher risk.
There are countries around the world that have a higher rate of syphilis in the community, and if you are having male to male sex you will also be at a higher risk.
It’s a good idea to have a regular sexual health check if you are sexually active. If you’re unsure, make sure you speak to your doctor or book an appointment at your local family planning clinic.