I have read dozens of pamphlets on STD's (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and thought I was pretty well informed until a friend came to me recently with a symptom that sounded suspiciously like that of an STD. When I was unable to identify offhand the STD that her symptom corresponded to I realised I hadn't properly absorbed the information I had been reading over the years. So I thought it might be productive to provide a quick reference guide.
Risk:Can only be caught through unsafe sex
Symptoms: Painless sore on the genitals, rectum, lips or mouth. This sore disappears in a week or two, but the bacteria remains in the body. The second stage is the appearance of a rash on the palms, soles of the feet, face and other parts of the body. Syphilis may progress to flu-like symptoms and swollen joints. Implications: After second stage syphilis goes into a latent period that may last for years before the third stage appears. The impact on the body is disastrous, with damage to the brain and both nervous and circulatory systems. This results in heart problems, paralysis and even death. Treatment: Via antibiotics only in the early stages.
Thrush (Candida) Risk:Can be transmitted via unsafe sex, although not always the case. Symptoms: It's normal to have inactive fungus in the genital area but hormonal changes can make it grow profusely, producing a discharge like cottage cheese. The skin around the vagina becomes red and itchy. In men thrush may not be so noticeable. Treatment:Usually involves taking slow plessaries or anti-fungal creams. Natural methods include vinegar in bath water or plain live yoghurt with acidophilus in the vagina (a tampon will keep it in place). Both these methods work by making the vagina more acidic. If it's painful, best to avoid bonking.
Gonorrhoea (The Clap) Risk: Via unsafe oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Symptoms:It's usually 2-10 days after infection, and they're similar to chlamydia symptoms, plus pains and itching. Implications: If treatment is delayed, the gonorrhoea may pass up the uterus and into the fallopian tubes, causing internal infection-the first sign in the lower abdomen. If left to this late stage it may cause infertility. Treatment:Means one-off doses of an antibiotic, usually penicillin. Again, best to avoid hanky panky until the all clear
Genital Warts Risk:Genital warts are spread by anal or vaginal sex from fingers to genitals. Using a condom is not 100% effective, and they have a long incubation period. Symptoms: Usually painless, starting as small lumps on the genitals that develop into cauliflower lumps in any part of the male or female pubic area. Implications: If warts are untreated they can multiply rapidly and it's believed to be linked to cervical cancer. If you suffer, have pap smears every six months. Treatment:Removal is done by a doctor who will either paint a solution on to the infected area, or burn them off with liquid nitrogen.
Genital Herpes There are two common types- Risk: Type 1 usually forms cold sores around the mouth. Type 2 affects the genitals and anus. Both are sexually transmitted. Condoms are not 100% effective protection. Symptoms:It appears as painful tingling or itchy blisters and ulcers which break, weep and dry in about 10 days. Other symptoms are aches and fever. Implications: The virus never actually disappears from your system and some people never suffer again, though some cases are triggered by stress or a period of exhaustion. Studies show links between herpes and cervical cancer, therefore abstain from sex.
Hepatitis B Risk: The virus is spread by body fluids, semen, vaginal secretions, saliva or blood, so sharing needles and unsafe sex are major ways of spreading. People who recover from the disease carry the virus and transmit it to other people. Symptoms:Hep B is a virus which infects the liver. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, tenderness in the upper right side of the abdomen, stomach pain, darker urine and lighter stools. The whites of the eye turn yellow. Implications:Can be fatal Treatment:There is no complete cure, but there is a vaccine. But that is a personal choice you should make after researching both sides of the vaccination debate.
Pubic Lice (Crabs) Risk: Horrid little creatures that jump from person to person during intimate contact. They can infect bedding, clothes, and toilet seats. Symptoms:Pubic lice are parasites that live and lay eggs in the pubic hair. They cause unbelievable itching. Treatment:Usually with shampoos (eg Lorexane or Quellada). Don't shave off the hair but comb it with a fine tooth comb. Wash all linen and clothes in very hot water
Chlamydia Chlamydia is on the increase and is believed to be seriously affecting women ( although men get it too) Risk:You catch chlamydia by sex without a condom. Symptoms:Women rarely show symptoms, perhaps a cloudy discharge or pain when urinating. The danger with this nasty is that women don't know they have it until damage has been done to the reproductive organs. Implications:Untreated, chlamydia leads to PID ( pelvic inflammatory disease), which may lead to inflammation of the fallopian tubes and possible infertility and long term discomfort
So if you think you've got one, don't delay!!! Contact a GP you feel comfortable with or look for your local Family Planning Clinic, the doctors are mostly women and specialise in this area, so they are very understanding.
Many thanks to Honeycomb for his info
If you are still confused or would like more information here are some recommended sources
yOni now blogging at cliterallyspeaking.blogspot.com
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