How to Protect Yourself Against Soaring STD Rates: STDS
It goes without saying that anyone who is sexually active can get an STD; from Chlamydia to Gonorrhoea, STDs do not discriminate. Regardless of what your gender, ethnicity, religion or background is, anyone who is actively having sex can catch STDs. While it is true that people aged between 16-24 are more at risk of getting an STI, that does not mean that other age groups are not susceptible to STDs such as Genital Warts, Syphilis and Hepatitis B , with some STDs like Gonorrhoea having long term health issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility, long-term pelvic and abdominal pain or an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus) if left untreated. Most STDs are treatable, with only HIV, AIDS, Oral Herpes, Genital Herpes, HPV and Chronic Hepatitis B having no known cure, but it is always best to seek treatment as soon as you exhibit symptoms or sense that something is off with your physical and emotional wellbeing. After all except for colds and flu, STIs are the most common contagious (easily spread) infections in the United States, with millions of new cases each year and similar results in the UK. Although as I said earlier some STIs can be treated and cured, others cannot, so it’s best to seek help whenever possible.
I’m here to dispel some myths and stereotypes surrounding STD talk, to show how you can protect yourself against soaring STD rates, and not need to do anything as dramatic as ‘pledging abstinence’ as some advice forums might declare you do. Instead, I’m going to give you the lowdown on how you can not only stay safe during sex but also educate yourself and others, including potential partners on STDs, and what you can do to make sure that you can still enjoy sex, while being STD free. Catch my drift? From being more open and honest with your partner or partners about your sexual history, to getting tested regularly to ensure your sexual health is at its prime, here are some tips on protecting yourself and others against the rise of STDs in the modern age.
Talk With Your Partner
Communication is essential in any type of relationship. In a sexual relationship, that includes communication about sexual health. Before you start having any kind of intercourse with a new partner, it’s a good idea for both of you to get tested for STDs first. This isn’t always the most comfortable conversation to have, but your health is more important than a little bit of awkwardness — and a partner who cares about your health and has your best interests at heart won’t mind getting tested with you. However before you jump straight into communicating your desire to discuss sexual health with your partner/partners, it might help you find it easier to talk if you know the facts beforehand.
Channel your inner med student and learn everything there is to know about STDs. Knowing the facts gives you confidence and helps you to answer your partner’s questions later on. Use a reliable source for your search, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), instead of relying on sites such as Wikipedia to gain insight on STDs. For example learning about how to treat STDs, knowing what the symptoms are and establishing where you can seek guidance and support on any concerns that you may have, will allow you to feel more confident when discussing your sexual health. Speaking of which, while you should always brush up on the facts, it might also be very useful to know what you want from the conversation too. You can’t tell if people have STDs by looking at or knowing their relationship history. So you’ll want to make it clear that both of you need to get tested before you start having sex, which I will explain more about in the next paragraph. If you are finding it difficult speak about sexual health (and it’s perfectly natural to feel like that), then you can always put your thoughts in writing and send them to your partner if that is an easier way for you to discuss your sexual health concerns. After all no need to feel embarrassed, sexual health should not be a taboo.
So why not plan what to say?
Get tested on a regular basis.
If you have sex with new partners on a frequent or semi-frequent basis, make it part of your health routine to get tested for STDs several times a year. Some STDs cause no symptoms, and staying on top of your health will allow you to catch any infections early instead of inadvertently passing them on. After all good education and safer sex practices are the keys to reducing the transmission of STDs, both for individuals and for society as a whole. But how do you go about getting tested for STDs I hear you ask? Well it is actually easier than you may think; you can start by looking up nearby places in your area to get tested, such as your doctor’s office or an STD clinic, where walk ins are often welcomed. Or if you feel like your case is an emergency and you have urgent symptoms, depending on the severity it might be wise to call 999 or 111, but always seek professional advice as I am not a doctor. Although you might have to pay for sexual health services i.e if they give you a prescription for medication to treat the STD, in some STD clinics you might be able to get free testing depending on your area.
Just remember that your sexual health matters.
Use protection every time you have sex
Protection only works if you actually use it, so don’t be tempted to skip the condom next time you have sex. In order for barrier methods to be effective in preventing STDs (and pregnancy), they must be used the correct way every time. For further protection, you should also consider using ‘latex condoms’ which can lower your chances of getting HPV and can help prevent your partner from transmission, although please remember that condoms are not a foolproof way of protecting against sexually transmitted infections or diseases, so try and get tested regularly. Generally speaking, oral contraceptives like ‘the pill’ do not protect against infections or sexually transmitted diseases, as they are an ‘oral’ as opposed to barrier method like the condom, which reiterates the importance of using a condom during sex. And if he don’t wanna wrap his junk, then tell him boo, boo, bye , bye.
Consider having just one partner.
Staying in a monogamous relationship with another STD-free person is also an almost-foolproof way to avoid STDs, as long as both partners are faithful to each other. Having multiple partners in a short period of time, on the other hand, doesn’t just dramatically increase your odds of catching an STD — it also makes you more likely to accidentally pass one on before you realize you have it. After all many STDs take a while to manifest symptoms (if any) so you could be a carrier, but haven’t been diagnosed yet. And while there is nothing wrong with one night stands, having multiple partners or having sex with multiple people in a short amount of time, it is definitely easier to keep track of one person’s sexual history as opposed to several. Of course the majority of us have had more than one sexual partner which is absolutely fine, but what I mean by this is that a long term sexual relationship with one partner is more likely to prevent against STDs than casual dating or one night stands.
I think I might have an STD. What do I do now?
If you think you may have an STD, don’t panic. The majority of STDs are easily curable and do not cause any long-term problems, as long as they’re caught and treated in a timely way. Start by making an appointment with a medical professional. You can call your regular doctor or look up a STD testing facility in your area. Do not have sexual intercourse, even with a condom, while you are waiting for your test. If you do have an STD, you will most likely be prescribed a course of medication to clear it up. The doctors will give you more professional advice about how you can treat the STD effectively, but generally speaking most STDs while uncomfortable are not life threatening.It might be natural for you to overthink the fact that you have an STD, but it happens to many of us and is nothing to be ashamed about.
Do You Have Any Tips On Safeguarding Yourself Against STDs?
*Collaborative Guest Post with Paige Jirsa- I work with https://stdtestingfacilities.com/, which provides users same day STD testing in a discrete and proficient manner. Re-written by Ana De-Jesus.