Health Tips - Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infections

A sexually transmitted disease (STD), also known as a sexually transmitted infection, is an illness that is primarily passed on through sexual contact. The term sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a more accurate term because a person can be infected, and infect others, without showing any symptoms of disease.

STI’s can happen at any age, including among the elderly. All it takes is sexual intimacy with one infected partner to contract a disease. Careless sex with different partners is probably the fastest way to acquire many serious infections.

While STI’s are largely transmitted through bodily fluids including vaginal fluids, semen and saliva, some such as Herpes Simplex and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), can be transmitted by direct skin contact alone. Germs are able to pass through breaks or scraped spots of the skin, even invisible ones. Some germs, such as HIV, can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or through breast milk.

Any infection such as Epstein Barr Virus, a chronic fatigue virus, can be passed on through simple physical contact between people. However, the infections primarily passed on through sexual relations that are of the greatest concern include: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B Virus, Herpes Simplex Virus (can be passed on with or without visible blisters), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis.

Suggestions to reduce STI’s:

  • Never reuse injection or tattoo needles.
  • Never come in contact with other people’s blood without immediate cleanup.
  • Cover up any cuts or abrasions of your own and get those around you to do the same.
  • Avoid sexual contact when any blood is involved.
  • At the very least, avoid any sexual contact without using condoms. Condoms only reduce the danger when used properly, and only to and from the area that they cover.
  • Avoid condoms made of substances other than latex or polyurethane, as they do not protect against HIV. Some germs are small enough to pass through the pores in natural skin condoms.
  • Avoid the use of oil-based lubricants or any form of oil with latex condoms, as oil can eat holes into the condoms.
  • To prevent a lifetime of disease, both potential sexual partners must get tested and proven negative for STI’s before any intimate contact. If after those tests are run, one of the partners has intimate contact with someone else, these tests must be rerun. Many infections are not detectable immediately after exposure to the germs, so consult your lab about the time that must elapse for the tests to be accurate.
  • Consider whether the pleasure of careless physical contact is worth the potential of a lifetime of serious infection.
  • Consider whether you really want to have a relationship with a person who would risk you or themselves.

Read more about this subject in the health tip Intimate Relations.

Ideally, find a monogamous partner who is negative for STI’s and be monogamous together!

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Dr. Pepi


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