Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — are typically spread through sexual contact. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases can spread from person to person through blood, sperm, vaginal fluid, and other bodily fluids.
Nonsexual transmission of these infections can occur, for example, from mothers to their infants during childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles. STDs do not always result in symptoms. It is possible to contract sexually transmitted infections from people who appear to be perfectly healthy and may be unaware of their inherent infection.
While STDs are highly infectious, there are ways to reduce the risk of contracting STDs such as:
The most reliable way of preventing sexually transmitted infections is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
Limiting the number of sexual partners you have
Limiting sexual partners to just one person for extended period of time lowers your chances of contracting a STI. To reduce the risk, each partner must begin the relationship with a negative test result. It is also necessary to talk about any other potential partners that you have an STD risk from. It is critical to remember that STI diagnosis is not without flaws. If you have herpes, the virus can lay dormant for years before causing a flare-up. This could explain why you or your partner has herpes despite being monogamous for a long time.
Usage of Contraceptives
When having sex, correctly using a condom can help you avoid STDs. Condoms reduce the risk of STD infection in all cases, but even if you use one, you can get infected with certain STDs such as herpes or HPV via contact with your partner’s skin.
STD testing is usually quick, simple, and mostly painless. Each STD has its own test; there is no single test for all STDs. Your doctor can advise you on which tests you require. STD testing may include the following:
- A urine test is as simple as peeing into a cup.
- A cheek swab — to test for HIV, you rub the inside of your cheek with a soft swab.
- A blood test entails your nurse or doctor drawing blood from your arm or performing a quick finger prick.
- A physical exam entails your nurse or doctor inspecting your genital area for warts, sores, rashes, irritation, or discharge.
- Testing your sores — Using a needle, your nurse or doctor collects a sample of fluid from any sores or blisters you might have.
Most infections can be tested to see if you have symptoms of specific STDs. Because some STDs resemble one another in appearance and behavior, you may be tested for multiple infections.
Benefits of STD Testing
Regular testing, in addition to using condoms or other protective barrier methods during oral, vaginal, and anal sex, practicing monogamy, and avoiding risky sexual behaviors, is a critical component of practicing safe sex and lowering the risk of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs).
In sexually active people, STDs can jeopardize a person’s overall health or lead to an untreatable, life – long disease. The only way for a sexually active person to know their STD status and prevent the spread of STDs among sexual partners and beyond is to get examined for STDs. Because of the risk of co-infection (having more than one STD at the same time), it is critical to get tested for all of the most common STDs on a regular basis.