If you are sexually active, then STIs and STDs need to be taken seriously. They can cause damage to your health and the health of your partners. Yet, despite the risks, sexually-transmitted infections and diseases can be easily avoided with due diligence, responsible, honest communication, and routine STI and STD testing. With the right practices, you can help to lower the chances of contracting an STI enjoy a happy, healthy sex life.
STD vs STI
You’ve probably heard of STDs, but the term “STI” might be new to you. Whereas STDs are sexually transmitted diseases, an STI is a sexually transmitted infection. To understand the difference, we must first understand the difference between a disease and an infection. To get infected with something simply means that you have contracted it, but that infection might not have any effects on your body at all. Should you contract an infection and then experience negative health effects from it, that becomes a disease.
Essential STI Information
According to the American Sexual Health Association, these non-harmful infections can occur with Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV, and Herpes. However, these infections can certainly still become diseases. You can get an STI from virtually any type of sexual contact, including oral, vaginal, and anal. Some infections can be passed on from the sharing of saliva which could be as simple as a kiss or sharing a drink.
Although they may seem harmless because they are not diseases, different bodies can react to the same infections in different ways. You may not feel the adverse effects of a particular infection, but unless it is treated, then it could be passed to a sexual partner whose immune system may not be strong enough to fight off a chronic infection.
How to Protect Yourself
Now that you know a little bit about STIs, you’re probably wondering how to protect yourself from them. The obvious way is to practice abstinence unless you can be completely certain that your partner is STI-free. However, the most reasonable way to protect yourself is by wearing a latex condom anytime you have sex. While not 100% effective, condoms greatly reduce the chances of spreading infections and the chances of unwanted pregnancies.
Additionally, you can avoid common STIs by not sharing towels, undergarments, or anything else that comes in contact with potentially infected orifices or genitals. There are several vaccinations available for STIs and STDs, including HPV and Hepatitis B vaccinations. If you are infected with an STI and would like to protect your partner, refrain from sexual contact and seek medical advice for treatment and further steps.
Because STIs present no ill effects, it is nearly impossible to determine if you have been infected without the use of STD testing services. These services often offer quick and thorough results that will give either give you peace of mind or the information you need to restore your health. If you are sexually active, get tested regularly to stay up-to-date and encourage your partner(s) to do the same.
Larry Hayman is a freelance writer and has been a Certified Physician Assistant for over five years. He enjoys writing about new developments in medicine and discussing cutting-edge research across a number of medical fields. In his free time, he hikes the mountains near his Montana home.