These are infections
you can catch while having sex. The only way to find out if
you've got one is to go to a clinic or doctor and ask for a full
checkup. You catch STDs directly from a partner, but not from
toilet seats, towels or cups. The only way to be totally protected
is to take no risks at all.
Some of the most common
You may not
know you have it but you can find out by testing, and it's easily
treated by a course of antibiotics for between 10 and 21 days.
The symptoms are caused,
in females, by an infection of the cervix which can spread to inflammation
of the uterus and Fallopian tubes with chronic pelvic pain. The
Fallopian tubes can become blocked and this can affect fertility.
In males, the symptom is inflammation of the urethra. Both
males and females can unknowingly pass chlamydia to partners.
When a man
catches gonorrhoea, he may notice the first signs two or three days
later. There may be burning from passing urine, and then a
discharge from the penis. This infection can last for a long
time and, if left untreated, it can be passed on even if there are
An infected woman may
not experience any symptoms at all. If the infection moves
to the lower abdomen, she may feel pain. The disease can be
passed on even if the woman is unaware of any problem.
This can be
a serious disease. The first sign may be a sore near the genital
area this could be hidden in the vagina or rectum. The
sore may disappear after a few weeks but the disease is still inside
the body. Six weeks to six months after infection, other symptoms
will appear if the syphilis goes untreated skin rash, loss
of hair, sore throat or lumps around the moist areas of the body.
This is the secondary stage and the symptoms may keep recurring.
A sufferer could be infectious for up to two years.
After this, the disease
becomes dormant but it's still there and could cause trouble later.
Blood tests are the usual way to diagnose syphilis and it
can be cured by a series of penicillin injections, especially in
the early stages.
(1) is the virus which causes cold sores that commonly occur around
the mouth or on the genital area.
Genital herpes (2) is
caught when the virus is put directly onto the genital area from
a cold sore on the other person's genitals or mouth (as in oral
sex). There is no known cure for this form of herpes.
The two varieties are
almost identical. Some people don't catch herpes because they
have natural immunity, or have cold sores somewhere else on the
body at the time.
Cold sores start as an
itchy or painful feeling which develops into a blister before breaking
down to small open sores. They usually heal within 10 days
but further outbreaks can be expected if the person becomes ill
or stressed. The herpes virus always remains in the body even
if no other cold sore ever appears. The best rule of thumb
in regard to being infectious is not to risk contact while symptoms
These are caused
by certain varieties of the wart virus and can develop on genital
skin, for example, the inside of the vagina. A person can
have genital wart virus infection without any obvious lumps. Most
have caught it from a sexual partner some time in life, but not
necessarily recently. Warts should always be treated.
This is a
common fungal ihfection affecting mostly women. It usually
brings on a vaginal itch and discharge, and might also cause some
burning when passing urine. Many women have the thrush organisms
living in the vagina without causing any trouble. It can easily
be treated and cured by putting pessaries and creams into and around
Some of the more common
reasons why women get an overgrowth of thrush include being pregnant
or having diabetes, taking a certain type of contraceptive pill,
being on antibiotics, being sick, and wearing tight clothes.
Men sometimes catch thrush
from their female partners who may not know they have an infection.
Men, especially those with diabetes, can have thrush even if without
a partner. Red spots will develop on the penis and this is
easily cured with an anti-fungal cream.
Lice are very
tiny creatures with legs. There are different types of lice
head lice, pubic lice (crabs) and body lice. They can
cause itching of the skin. If they are found in the pubic
hair, they can spread to other hairy parts of the body. Treatment
is easy and effective with the correct creams or lotions.
for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It results from infection
with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus is carried in
body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast
There are three main
ways of catching it:
From contaminated hyperdermic needles.
From mother to baby via the placenta or from breast milk.
Infected people can have
the virus in their bodies for a long time before they develop symptoms
and they can pass it on during this time. In the later stages,
the virus severely damages the immune system, resulting in an increased
susceptibility to a variety of common, as well as rare, infections
and to some unusual forms of cancer.
HIV infection cannot
be excluded from one single test. The full history of the
patient must be considered and a physical examination undertaken.
The tests are highly specific and sensitive. However, antibodies
may be absent in the initial stage of infection. This is known
as the 'window' period and usually lasts for six to 12 weeks.
If HIV infection is suspected but the antibody test is negative,
then it should be repeated in three months' time.
AIDS is treated with
specific drugs to overcome secondary infections associated with
the disease. The drug AZT has been introduced to treat the
virus itself. It's not a cure for either HIV or AIDS, but
it does interfere with the replication of HIV and has been shown
sometimes to slow the progress of AIDS and reduce the incidence
of secondary infections, although this remains unproven as reliable
All persons with HIV,
whether they have symptoms or not, are potentially infectious and
may spread the virus by sexual contact or sharing of needles.
Patients usually require
counselling during all stages of diagnosis and treatment. To
help slow down the spread of AIDS, people must accept responsibility
for protecting themselves against infection, Condoms should be worn,
needles and syringes should never be shared, nor used more than
once. People in high-risk categories, for example, gay men
practising anal sex and those who are HIV positive, should never
knowingly place another person at risk.
and public awareness are important weapons in the fight against
AIDS. Early advertisements, like the one showing the 'Grim
Reaper' bowling down his victims, offered the shock value needed
at that time to bring public understanding into sharp focus that
here was a disease we couldn't afford to be casual about. Since
the early 1980s, there has been a worldwide search for a cure. Where
the mortality rate was once 100 per cent, it's now 85 per cent.
That's still abominably high, but the fight is on.
The aim is to protect
public health while also preserving the human rights of the individual.
As a sexual being, you
have the right to choose when, where, how and with whom you want
to have sex. Always keep in mind basic rules of hygiene, practise
safe sex, love yourself, care for your partner, and you'll significantly
reduce your chances of getting sick.