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What You Should Know About STDs

If you're sexually active, STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are a real threat. According to statistics, 1 in every 5 people in the United States suffers from an STD; that's 20% of our population! If you're not careful, you could sleep with someone in this 20% and become an STD statistic yourself.

That's why it's important to be informed. Know what STDs are out there, be aware of the signs and symptoms to look for, and learn how to protect your body. STDs can be irritating, painful and even life-threatening.

Take steps to prevent them. If you're having sex, take a minute to learn about the different STDs and stay informed. It could mean the difference between life and death.{relatedarticles}

Herpes

About it: herpes is a virus that is contracted through physical contact with someone who is infected. This can be sexual contact or simply kissing and touching of infected areas.


 

Signs and symptoms: the most obvious signs are small red bumps that eventually turn into blisters. Similar to cold sores, these dry up and heal within a few weeks. Unfortunately, the herpes virus still remains. People with herpes may experience flu-like symptoms or a painful burning sensation during urination.

 

Treatment: there is no known cure for the herpes virus; however, there are medications that can help manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Whether symptoms are present or not, the herpes virus will continue to remain in the body.{relatedarticles}

Crabs

 

About it: crabs are also known as pubic lice, and just like head lice, you can contract them by having close contact with someone else who has them. Crabs is marked by small, black bugs in the pubic hair, and it can even be passed via bed sheets or clothing.

 

Signs and symptoms: the major symptom of crabs is itching in the pubic region. It also may be possible to see the small lice bugs in the pubic hair.

Treatment: crabs can be treated just like head lice, with prescription and over-the-counter medications designed to kill the bugs and their eggs.

Genital warts/HPV

 

About it: genital warts are just what they sound like: warts that appear in the genital area. They are a physical symptom of the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. You can acquire genital warts by having skin-to-skin contact with a person who already has them. This includes oral contact.


 

Signs and symptoms: the only sign of genital warts is, simply, the warts themselves. These are small growths or bumps around the genitals or anal region, where contact was made. These growths also can appear on a woman's cervix, in which case, nothing will be visible.

Treatment: there are some creams and ointments to help shrink the growths, and they can be removed surgically. In recent years, a vaccine was developed. It is recommended that everyone - boys and girls -- get this vaccine before becoming sexually active because HPV easily can develop into cervical cancer or be passed from a man to another woman.{relatedarticles}

Gonorrhea

 

About it: gonorrhea is a bacterial infection in the genitals or anal region. Any kind of sexual contact with a gonorrhea-infected person can pass on the bacteria.

 

Signs and symptoms: A person with gonorrhea will often see a pus-like discharge from the genitals or experience a painful or burning sensation during urination.

Treatment: gonorrhea can be treated and cured with a regimen of antibiotics prescribed by a medical professional.

Syphilis

 

About it: syphilis is a serious and often life-threatening STD spread through sexual contact with an infected person. If contracted, the infection can spread throughout the body, eventually affecting the heart, brain and nervous system.


 

 

Signs and symptoms: there are 2 stages of syphilis. The first is a visible sore at the site of the infection, so most likely in the genital or anal regions. The second stage occurs after the sore heals and is marked by a rash and, often, flu-like symptoms.

Treatment: eventually, the symptoms of syphilis will fade; however, that does not mean the infection is gone. If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems and sometimes even be fatal. It is important to get syphilis treated with a regimen of antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.{relatedarticles}

Hepatitis B

About it: hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It can be passed through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions, needle sharing, or in the case of an infant, through childbirth.

Signs and symptoms: there are many painful symptoms of Hepatitis B, including vomiting and nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, diarrhea, yellowing eyes or skin, or dark-colored urine.

Treatment: acute Hepatitis B may go away on its own; however, chronic Hepatitis B is incurable. Typical treatment includes antiviral medications, and in serious cases, liver transplants.


 

Chlamydia

 

About it: chlamydia is a bacterial infection and the most common STD in the U.S. It is contracted through sexual contact with an infected person.

Signs and symptoms: many people with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. The ones who have symptoms report feeling a burning sensation during urination, genital discharge, tenderness of the testes in men and painful intercourse.{relatedarticles}

Treatment: if left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious health issues, often developing into pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, in women. Chlamydia can be treated and cured with a regimen of antibiotics.

HIV/AIDS

 

About it: HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a deadly virus that attacks a person's immune system. Eventually, HIV develops into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in which the body's immune system no longer can fight off bacteria or viruses.

HIV cannot be passed through simple contact. It can only be passed on through the exchange of fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions, through needle sharing, or in the case of an infant, through childbirth or breast milk.

Signs and symptoms: often, there are no early symptoms of HIV. When there are, they usually include diarrhea, night sweats, weight loss, swollen glands, fever and other flu-like symptoms.


Treatment: there is no cure for HIV; however, there are medications that may block the virus temporarily and help manage symptoms. Once HIV develops into AIDS, the results are fatal. Remember, all STDs can be prevented. Choosing not to have sex is the only surefire way to ensure you don't contract an STD.{relatedarticles}

If you are sexually active, make sure to ask questions of your sexual partners. Learn about their history and, if necessary, ask them to get an STD test before you get into bed with them.

You can also reduce your risk of an STD by making sure to use a condom each and every time you have sex. They're not just to prevent unwanted pregnancy; they provide a border between your health and your sexual partners.