What is an STD?
An STD is a sexually transmitted disease. In other words, it is a disease contracted through sexual activity, and there are many different kinds. They can be transmitted vaginally, orally, or anally, via body fluids or blood, and even through skin to skin contact.
What kinds of STDs are there?
There are two main categories of STDs: Bacterial and Viral. Bacterial STDs can be cured if caught early enough. Viral STDs cannot be cured… a person who contracts one will have it for life. Sixty years ago the most common STDs were syphilis and gonorrhea (both bacterial and treatable). Now there are more than 25 major STDs, many of which have no cure.
Bacterial STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia can usually be cured with antibiotics, but often there are no symptoms and any damage done by them before treatment is permanent. Viral STDs such as herpes, HIV/AIDS and human papillomavirus (HPV) are not curable, but can be treated. It is vitally important to seek treatment immediately.
How many people have STDs?
Shockingly, as of 2017 the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reported that over 110 million Americans are currently infected with an STD and each year over 20 million more become infected, millions of whom are teenagers. The CDC reports that the largest number of new infections are with people 25 years old or younger. The estimated number of new infections (broken down into individual STDs) annually are as follows:
• Chlamydia 2.8 million
• Genital herpes 776,000
• Gonorrhea 820,000
• Hepatitis B 19,200
• HIV (Virus causing AIDS) 39,513
• Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 14 million
• Syphilis 74,702
• Trichomoniasis 3.7 million
What are some symptoms of STDs?
As stated above, many STDs have no obvious symptoms, or very mild ones. For those that do, general symptoms can include:
• A burning sensation while urinating
• A discharge from the vagina or penis
• Sores, rashes, or itching in the genital area (or mouth if from oral sex)
• Growths in the genital area (or mouth if from oral sex)
• Dark and/or foul-smelling urine
• Jaundice (yellow eyes)
• Fever, headache, or nausea
• Joint inflammation
• Enlarged lymph nodes
Will condoms prevent STDs?
Even if condoms were used correctly each and every time, there is still a significant risk for many STDs, especially those which can be contracted skin-to-skin such as herpes and HPV, both of which are incurable. In addition, condoms are only 85% effective at preventing pregnancy because they are not used perfectly. Consider that there are only a few days a month in which it is possible to get pregnant, but STDs are there and ready all the time, and in most cases are 50 times smaller than a sperm.
Birth control pills, IUDs, shots, patches, and other forms of contraceptives do not protect against STDs.
Oral sex is also not safe; in fact, many STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and genital herpes can be spread orally.
What about just having sex with one person?
Having sex with only one person without commitment (and without verifying through a medical clinic that the partner is STD free) is risky for several reasons:
• The partner may lie about previous sexual history.
• The partner may not be aware of prior partners’ sexual history.
• It is possible for a person to have an STD and not know it because there are not always symptoms.
What are the long-term effects of STDs?
STDs can lead to some pretty awful long-term (non-curable) effects:
• Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can lead to infertility
• Cervical cancer (Two HPV types cause 70% of cervical cancer)
• Chronic pelvic pain
• Tubal (ectopic) Pregnancy
• Damage to major body organs
“When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the last 10 years”. - C. Everett Koop, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General
If each person has only the same number of partners, the number of people to which each is exposed:
1 = 1
2 = 3
3 = 7
4 = 15
5 = 31
6 = 63
7 = 127
8 = 255
9 = 511
10 = 1023
11 = 2047
12 = 4095
What will offer protection against STDs?
There are only two ways to make sure of remaining clear of STDs.
• Abstention from sex
• Having sex only within a faithful lifelong commitment (marriage to a partner of the opposite sex) who is free of any STD.