Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): Infections and Preventions

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What Is A Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Sexually transmitted diseases affect millions of individuals around the world each year. Commonly defined as infections that can be passed from one individual to another through sexual intercourse or contact with genital regions, sexually transmitted diseases are unique and particularly dangerous in that, due to the physical nature of the genital regions, certain physical manifestations of the disease may be difficult to observe.

Causes of Sexually Transmitted Disease

Analyzing the sources of sexually transmitted diseases, or STD’s, can help individuals defend against infection. STD’s originate in one of three distinct types of infections, including bacterial infections, fungal infections and viral infections.

Bacterial Infection

The most often seen bacterial STD’s include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Unlike yeast infections, which are easily treatable and do not pose severe long-term threats, bacterial STD’s can prove to be much more dangerous. Syphilis, for example, is believed to infect more than 10 million people annually, and can create massive skin lesions as well as fatal events. Gonorrhea is often associated with pain during urination in men, for women, initial infection may prove to be less* identifiable, as the majority of cases prove to be asymptomatic early on. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause long-term damage to internal organs, such as the heart.

Fungal Infection

The most common fungal infection seen in sexually active adults is a yeast infection. Although yeast infections are commonly thought of as pertinent to women only, men are capable of contracting yeast infections from their sexual partners during unprotected sex. In men, yeast infections are often asymptomatic initially, meaning that infected individuals may not realize that they have contracted the fungus. For those who may have immune disorders, yeast infections can grow and propagate quickly, causing severe pain and discomfort for infected individuals.

Viral Infection

Viral STD’s encountered by sexually active adults can include hepatitis, herpes and HIV. Unlike bacterial and fungal STD’s, herpes and HIV remain untreatable, the latter being associated with severe consequences such as death. Herpes, existing in two distinct forms (Simplex-1 and Simplex-2) can be transmitted through a variety of forms of physical contact, including direct contact from the mouth or genitals to infected genital regions.

Transmission Probabilities

Although abstinence remains the only 100% effective way of completely deterring the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, active sexual adults can learn more about the probabilities of Sexually transmitted diseases transmission during the sexual acts they engage in.

Performing Oral Sex

For men and women performing unprotected oral sex, the chance of contracting forms of herpes, the viral STD, is high. Oral sex has also been proven* to be an effective transmission vehicle for bacterial STD’s, such as syphilis.

Vaginal Sex

Vaginal sex remains a high risk activity for individuals engaging in unprotected sex. Almost all known STD’s can be transmitted through this method of sexual activity. For women and men who have contracted herpes, visible sores may appear on the vagina or penis, allowing partners to quickly assess whether they have been infected if symptoms have not appeared previously. Vaginal sex can also serve as a method of transmission for fungal Sexually transmitted diseases as well.

Anal Sex

Anal sex has often been associated with bacterial and viral STD transmission. Genital herpes can be contracted through contact with the thighs or anus, and remains a viable threat even if physical outbreaks are not occurring during anal sex. HIV remains a large threat for individuals engaging in anal sex, and it is estimated that the threat of contracting HIV is 18 times greater during anal sex than vaginal sex, due to the lower proportion of white blood cells in the anal region.

Analingus

Analingus is also a viable transmitter for viral Sexually transmitted diseases, particularly herpes. As analingus can be considered a form of oral sex, individuals engaging in this activity should ensure that their partner is properly tested for pre-existing conditions before participating in this particular sexual act.

What Are Preventative Methods of Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Although contracting an STD does impose certain restrictions and health conditions on infected individuals, it does not necessarily infer that those with Sexually transmitted diseases can no longer engage in sexual intimacy. A variety of contraceptives also provide protection from STD’s during intimacy.

Vaccines

For those who may not have STD’s, vaccines may provide an effect deterrent for the Human Papillomavirus, also referred to as HPV.

Condoms

Condoms, a reliable and affordable method of birth control*, also provide outstanding protection from bacterial, fungal and viral STD’s such as herpes, syphilis, yeast infections and HIV during anal sex, vaginal sex and oral sex. For both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, condoms can be an effective deterrent to the transmission of harmful Sexually transmitted diseases from one sexual partner to another.

Vaginal Microbicide

Vaginal microbicides are topical treatments that may be applied to the vaginal regions. These gel or creams have been proven* to reduce* the symptoms of infections, such as specific types of vaginitis. Although the effectiveness of microbicides against Sexually transmitted diseases is still being researched, these products may prove to be an effective deterrent in the future.

Conclusion

The most effective forms of deterrent against contracting sexually transmitted diseases are abstinence, communication and education. Although conversations between first-time sexual partners as to their previous sexual and medical history may prove to be awkward or uncomfortable, they allow individuals to quickly assess the health of themselves and their partner, ensuring* that the likelihood of Sexually transmitted diseases transmission is reduced* dramatically. In addition, education about all types of STD’s and their symptoms will allow sexual partners to quickly identify symptoms of transmission, increasing* the likelihood of treatment and prior to further spreading of the virus.

For many young adults, the threat of contracting a sexually transmitted disease has never been greater. That being said, never before have such an exhaustive number of treatment and preventive measures been available to the general public. Before engaging in sexual activity, individuals should decide for themselves what their preferred method of contraception and infection prevention will be. These initial decision will help remove* some of the awkwardness associated with the beginnings of physical intimacy with a new partner. An assured, confident approach to birth control* and STD prevention is guaranteed* to promote healthy, positive sex. Partners can benefit from these healthy, rewarding sexual health practices throughout their relationship.

Take Action: Support Consumer Health Digest by linking to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (Click to copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite ConsumerHealthDigest.com with clickable link.


 
 
Author

Expert Author : Mark Simms (Consumer Health Digest)

Mark Simms is a prolific freelance health and beauty writer, independent researcher with a long history and expertise of providing reliable and relatable health content for magazines, newsletters, websites including blogs and journals. He also enjoy exploring men’s and women’s health category writing articles about sex and relationships, product review and providing information on sexual health.