STDs are sexually- transmitted infections. In Sri Lanka, there are no reliable estimates how many people on a yearly basis catch STDs. People can go to special STD clinics (who do register) but also to hospitals, private medical doctors, etc. Some STDs have serious consequences if they are not treated in time. Fortunately, most are easy to cure. STDs are infectious and you can have one without even noticing it.
As a result, you can inadvertently transmit STDs. Examples of STDs include: HIV infection which causes AIDS, Chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, hepatitis B and syphilis.
Most STDs are transmitted through unprotected sex like vaginal intercourse without a condom (penis in the vagina), anal intercourse without a condom (penis in the anus), oral sex (blow jobs and cunnilingus) without a condom. A number of STDs are transmitted through blood.
You can catch HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis as a result of tattoos and piercings that are unhygienically applied. Or if you use someone else’s needles, syringes and other equipment for drug use. During pregnancy, HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis can be transmitted from mother to child. You cannot get STDs by drinking from someone else’s glass. You also cannot get one from coughing, insect bites or a dirty toilet seat.
You usually are not directly aware that you have STDs; depending on the type of STD it can take weeks or sometimes years. General symptoms from which you can recognize a possible STDs infection are:
– Discharge of pus from the penis, vagina (or anus). The separation can be an annoying smell and have a yellow or green in color. With women, the separation is stronger than normal and can have a different color.
– Warts, blisters or sores on or around the penis, vagina, anus or mouth.
– Itching, pain or a burning sensation during or immediately after urination.
– Reoccurring itching in the pubic area (pubic hair, penis, vagina or anus).
– Loss of blood during or after intercourse or abnormal bleeding outside the menstrual cycle.
– With women: abdominal pain / men: pain in the testicles.
– Swollen glands in the groin.
(You will never experience all of the symptoms at the same time, but often only one or two). Please visit http://www.cdc.gov/std/ for an accurate description of the different STDs.
Some STDs are serious, others simply a nuisance. STDs caused by viruses are called viral STDs. Once you’ve caught a viral STD, the virus will remain in your body. This means that the symptoms may recur over and over again. Viral STDs are: genital herpes, hepatitis B, genital warts and HIV. HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS.
STDs caused by bacteria are called bacterial STDs. These infections can be completely cured, but it is important that you don’t wait too long before going to see a doctor. Otherwise the STD could have some unpleasant complications. Examples of bacterial STDs are: Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Finally, there are also STDs that are caused by parasites, such as pubic lice.
How do you prevent STDs? Safe sex, that is having sex with a condom, is the best protection against STDs. If you always have sex with the same person, if he or she has only have sex with you, and if neither of you have STDs then sex is safe without condoms. But please remember this, the only way to know for sure whether neither of you have STD, is by having yourself tested. When someone becomes infected with HIV, syphilis or hepatitis B, then a test can only prove that after three months.
Remember this: don’t do anything you don’t want to! Say how far you’ll go.
Dr. Marcel de Roos (Psychologist PhD, the Netherlands) is a psychologist from Holland and has settled down in Sri Lanka – leaving behind a 25 year old practice – Central Clinic – in Amsterdam. He mostly works with youth and adults in helping expat issues, marriage counseling, depression, sexual problems, trauma, stress, anxiety, career advice and social issues. He also helps children with study related problems or social issues. For more infomation visit -http://www.marcelderoos.com
That’s why it’s important to always use condoms for the first three months of a relationship. Because during that period you won’t yet know whether either of you are infected.
How do you say that you want to have safe sex? It can feel a bit awkward. Suddenly you really want to have sex but you don’t have any condoms with you. Or you’ve had too much to drink and are not being careful. Or you think sex with a condom is a bit of a nuisance. There are enough excuses for not having safe sex.
Sometimes you do intend to have safe sex but it just doesn’t happen. Afterwards you regret having had unsafe sex. Unsafe sex is easy to avoid if you talk about using condoms. How do you do that? And when do you start? These tips may help: Work out beforehand when and how you’ll say you want to have safe sex.
If you know that before you start having sex, it’s easier to stick to it. Say honestly that you don’t want to catch STDs. That doesn’t mean you ‘don’t trust’ the other person. You’re just telling them what you think. If you say ‘I always do it with condoms!’, then anyone will know what you mean. You don’t even have to mention STDs.
But talking isn’t the only way to make it easier for you to always have safe sex: Just grab a condom and put it on you or your partner. Make sure you always have condoms with you! Sex often happens spontaneously. You don’t usually know beforehand when you’ll have sex with someone.