Thursday, April 26, 2012

People you know may have nether germs: Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)


Many of us often worry about getting hit by a car, or getting cancer, or when it comes to our sexual health, preventing pregnancy (or after a certain age, getting pregnant). And while we may carry around a bucket of hand sanitizer to avoid icky cold and flu germs, we don't necessarily know or do much about the icky germs that may be on your partner's nethers. You may even have something right now and not know!

First things first: If you have sex, no matter if you are straight, gay, married, or single, you can get an sexually transmitted disease, or STD for short. And no matter what kind of sex you are having, no matter which body part is going into which body part, you can get an STD. 

Now you are thinking, "I would totally know if my partner has something funky going on down there." But actually most STDs can be there without any signs. Pretty sneaky, right? So you or your partner can be passing around an infection without knowing it. Or, when you think of STDs, you probably think about HIV, since that is what most of us have been taught to fear the most (for good reason!). But there are other STDs that should be on your radar screen that are quite common. 

Here are the most common STDs that you should be thinking about:

1. Chlamydia. And as many of us learned in high school, it is not a flower. It is the most common, curable STD out there. In us ladies it infects the cervix, and while you can have it an not have any signs or a LONG time, the most frequent symptom is pain during sex, or vaginal discharge, or burning when peeing. Untreated it can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, which can lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility. 

2. Gonnorrhea. AKA "the clap". Pretty similar to chlamydia in terms of organs infected and symptoms, but with the extra kicker - it can infect the throat. Makes you rethink oral sex, huh. 

3. Syphilis. "The Pox" doesn't have the squeakiest of reputations, and untreated can lead to some pretty nasty complications. You can get it through direct contact with a syphilis sore, which can usually be found around the nether area and the mouth, both inside and out. To make things even more complicated, these areas areas are not always covered by a condom, so you can get syphilis even if you are using protection.

4. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Probably the most common STD. Very common and associated with 99% of cervical cancer cases. Read here for just how bad it is and what you can do about it. 

5. Herpes. Another sneaky and tricky STD. This virus can lurk without any signs or symptoms, so you may not be aware if your partner has it. For those that do have symptoms, they are usually blisters that appear around the nether area that take two to four weeks to heal the first time they happen. Genital herpes can be treated but can't be cured, which means once you get it, you have it for life. 

6. Trichomoniasis. Never heard of this? Well it is actually the most common STD among young woman. While the other STDs listed above are viral or bacterial infections, the "trich", as it is called for short, is caused by a parasite. Again the majority of people do not have any signs or symptoms. For those that do, they can get a itchy, burning, sore, or red lady part area, and may have pain while peeing. 

So there you have it ladies, some icky nether germs that you should be tested for regularly if you are having any kind of sex with another person. Make sure you bring this up with your lady parts doc - studies have shown that the majority of docs don't start a conversation on STDs, so be your own health advocate and ask about being tested. And sadly, while you may be faithful and think you are in a monogamous relationship, unfortunately, your partner may not, so get yourself tested either way. 

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