Each year there are nearly 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the US. More shocking is the fact that more than 50% of all sexually active individuals will acquire at least one STI in their lifetime.
Despite awareness and education about STIs, people continue to be careless and don’t take any precautions during sexual intercourse. The important thing to know is that once you acquire an STI, this also increases the risk of acquiring a second UTI. The most common STIs include gonorrhea, Syphilis, trichomonas, HIV, herpes, chlamydia and human papilloma virus.
The two most commonly acquired STIs in the US include chlamydia and gonorrhoea. The most painful STI is herpes which can present with tender vesicles that can make urination and sexual intercourse painful. The STI with minimal symptoms is chlamydia. The STD that is the most difficult to treat and keeps on recurring is herpes simplex. The STI associated with cancer of the cervix is the Human papilloma virus. The STI which is the most serious is HIV, as it has no cure and requires lifelong treatment.
STIs not only affects the vagina, penis, vulva but they can also affect the anus and even the throat. For example, if one performs oral sex on a male with gonorrhea, there is a risk of getting a throat infection. Besides the genitals, STI can affect many other organs. For example, gonorrhea is a very common cause of an infected joint and chlamydia can affect the eyes.
The diagnosis of STIs requires testing the vaginal and penile secretions in the laboratory; most of these tests take 2-7 days for results. In the case of HIV, if the first test is positive, then a confirmatory or a more sensitive test is also done.
Some strategies to prevent STIs include being in a monogamous relationship, using a condom, avoiding multiple sex partners and avoiding sex with strangers. No matter which STI you acquire the most important thing is that your partner has to be notified and treated. If you have an STI and do not tell your partner, you can be sued in some states.
Condoms cannot prevent STIs 100%; mainly because the condom does not cover the base of the penis and often during sex, secretions can leak and the condom may fall off. The only guaranteed way to prevent STIs is to abstain from sex- an option not too appealing to many people.
The biggest source of STD is your sexual partner. In some cases, STDs can also be acquired the toilet seat, door handle or through sharing personal care products.