An infection that is passed from person-to-person through any form of sexual contact is referred to as an STD or a sexually transmitted disease. Doctors prefer using the term STI or sexually transmitted infection since it involves passing an organism that causes the disease from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. Sexual contact is not confined to anal and vaginal penetration alone. It also involves sharing of sex toys, oral-genital and kissing.
Engaging in sex will never be ‘safe’. The only way to prevent from being infected is to abstain from sex. Another considered ‘safe’ way is by having a monogamous relationship with both parties uninfected by STDs and faithful to each other. Kissing was thought to be a harmless activity that is ‘safe’. Unfortunately, it has been found that herpes and other infections can be passed through this supposedly harmless activity. Condoms are also thought to be an effective barrier against STDs. It may decrease the risk of acquiring some STIs such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia. However, condoms are not guaranteed effective barriers against STDs such as HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, syphilis, and genital warts. Counseling for individuals that belong to high-risk groups would be a way of preventing the spread of infection. Early detection and treatment would be an even better choice.
Neisseria gonorrheae is the organism that causes a bacterial infection called gonorrhea which is passed through sexual intercourse. It is one of the oldest and recognized sexually transmitted infections in the world. Gonorrhea is not transmitted through door handles or toilet seats. The bacteria can only survive in moist places in the body and commonly found in the cervix, vagina, rectum, and throat.
Chlamydia is another bacterial infection that could almost be a twin to gonorrhea in its symptoms and the way it is transmitted. Like gonorrhea, the bacteria could also be found in the vagina, cervix, urethra, rectum, and throat. Symptoms for both men and women are almost non-existent. This is the main reason for the spread as infected individuals are unaware that they are infected.
Spirochete is the name of the bacterial organism that causes syphilis. It is a century old sexually transmitted infection that produces chancre, a painless ulcer that could be found in the moist areas of the body such as the genitals and mouth.
Syphilis has three stages: the first stage where the chancre appears usually 10 to 90 days following infection. The disease is at its highest infectious stage when there is the presence of a chancre. The second stage develops hardly noticeable faint rashes. It also shows symptoms such as a sore throat, hair loss, and genital warts. Casual contact can transmit the infection especially when a rash grows on the palms of the hand. The third stage is the latency phase where an infected individual will not show any symptoms. If not treated, syphilis will not spread but it will cause serious medical conditions to the infected person such as dementia, stroke, heart problems, blindness, and deafness.
Most STDs are curable, some are treatable, and some are incurable but could be managed by medications. The key is to get tested regularly especially if you are sexually active with multiple partners.