The rate of casual sex is going up among our youth and for that reason it is necessary for us to better understand exactly what is going on and how to help them to get the assistance they require.
Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are passed during sex. Some only infect your genitals while others become systemic infections. Those would include: HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis. The worrying aspect to STDs is that many times there are no symptoms to warn you that is anything is wrong in your body.
First lets be clear that sexually transmitted diseases are spread during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and sometimes even by touching. HIV and Hepatitis B are also spread through the contact with infected blood.
Germs need to live in warm, moist areas. That is why they infect the mouth, rectum, sex organs including the vagina, vulva, penis and testes.
Many STDs can be cured with antibiotics take exactly the way the doctor has advised. Others can be treated and managed to keep the symptoms at bay.
You MUST tell you partner if you are infected because if they aren’t treated, they can get sick as well as become carriers of these infections to their next partners. They may even give it to you again, if you were lucky enough to be cured.
Here are the STDs symptoms, how you contract them and what will happen if you don’t get them treated:
Chlamydia: Symptoms show up 7-28 days after having sex and most women and some men will not have any symptoms.
Women: Discharge from the vagina, bleeding from the vagina between periods, burning or pain while urinating. You will feel the need to urinate more frequently.
Pain in the abdomen, sometimes with fever or nausea.
Men: Watery white drip from penis, burning pain when you urinate,or have a bowel movement. You will need to urinate more often. You may have swollen or tender testicles.
It is spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.
If you don’t get treated: You can give chlamydia to your partner(s0.
It can lead to a more serious infection.
Women & possibly men will no longer be able to have children.
A woman with chlamydia can give it to her children during birth.
Gonorrhea: Symptoms show up 2 -21 days after having sex. Most women and some men don’t experience any symptoms.
Women: Thick yellow or gray discharge from the vagina, burning pain when you urinate of have a bowel movement, Abnormal periods or bleeding between periods, cramps and pain in the lower abdomen – belly.
Men: Thick yellow or greenish drip form the penis, burning pain when you urinate or have a bowel movement, need to urinate more often, swollen or tender testicles.
Spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.
If you don’t get it treated: You can give gonorrhea to your sex partner(s).
Can lead to a serious infection, reproductive organs damaged.
Both men and woman may not be able to have children.
Can cause: heart trouble, skin disease, arthritis, & blindness.
A mother with gonorrhea can give it to her baby in the womb &
Hepatitis B: Symptoms show up in 1-9 months after having sex!
Most women and some men won’t have any symptoms.
Women: Many people don’t have any symptoms or have mild symptoms., Flu-like feelings that don’t go away, tiredness, jaundice (yellow skin), dark urine, light colored bowel movements.
Spread during vaginal, anal, oral se with someone who has hepatitis B.
Spread by sharing needles to inject drugs, or for any other reason.
Spread by contact with infected blood.
If you don’t get it treated: You can give Hepatitis B to your sex partner(s) or
someone with whom you share a needle.
Some recover completely & some will always have symptoms.
Can cause permanent live damage and even liver cancer.
A mother with hepatitis B can give it to her baby during birth.
Herpes: Symptoms show up 1-30 days or longer after having sex.
Symptoms: Most people don’t experience symptoms. Symptoms are: Flu-like feelings, small painful blisters on he sex organs or mouth, itching or burning before the blisters appear, blisters go away, but you still have herpes, and the blisters can come back.
Spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex and sometimes by genital touching, with someone with herpes.
If you don’t get it treated: You can give herpes to your sex partner(s).
A mother with herpes can give it to her baby during birth.
HIV/AIDS: Symptoms may show up several months to several years after contact with someone with the HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Symptoms: Many people don’t experience any symptoms for several years!
Unexplained weight loss or tiredness. Flu-like feelings that don’t go away,
Diarrhea, white spots on the mouth.
In Women: all of the above plus yeast infections that won’t go away.
Spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has HIV.
Spread by sharing needles to inject drugs or for any other reason.
Spread by contact with infected blood.
If you don’t get it treated: You can give HIV to your partner(s).
HIV can’t be cured, medicine can help control it.
Can cause illness or death.
An infected mother can give HIV to her baby in the
womb, during birth or while breast feeding.
HPV/Genital Warts: Symptoms show up weeks, months or years after contact with HPV.
Symptoms: Many people don’t show any symptoms.
Some types of genital warts: Small bumpy warts on the sex organs & anus.
Itching or burning around the sex organs.
After warts leave, the virus sometimes stays in the body.
The warts can come back.
NOTE: Some types cause cervical cancer in women:
Cell changes on the cervix can only be detected by the Pap Test from health
Spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex, and sometimes by genital touching, with someone who has HPV.
If you don’t get it treated: You may give HPV to your sex partner(s).
Most HPV goes away on its own in about 2 years.
Warts may go away on their own, remain unchanged or
grow and spread.
A mother with warts can give them to her baby during birth.
Some types can lead to cervical cancer if not treated.
Syphilis: 1st Stage: symptoms show up 1-12 weeks after having sex.
A painless sore or sores on he mouth or sex organs.
Sores last 2-6 weeks.
Sores go away, but you still have syphilis.
2nd Stage: Symptoms show up as the sores heal or after:
A rash anywhere in the body.
Rash and Flu-like feelings go away but you still have syphilis.
Spread during vaginal sex.
If you don’t get it treated: You may give syphilis to your partner(s).
A mother with syphilis can give it to her baby during birth or
have a miscarriage.
Can cause heart disease, brain damage, blindness & death.
Trichomoniasis or “Trich”: Symptoms show up 5-28 days after having sex.
Affects both men and women with may people not having any symptoms.
Women: Itching, bleeding or irritation in the vagina, yellow, greenish or gray discharge from the vagina.
Men: Watery, white drip from the penis, burning pain when you urinate, need to urinate more often.
Spread during vaginal sex.
If you don’t get it treated: You can give trich to your sex partner(s)
Uncomfortable symptoms will continue.
Men can get infections in their prostate gland.
Now, if this was enough to let you know that this is serious stuff to deal with, here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
Refraining from sex is the best protection of course. Having sex with only one uninfected partner who is only having sex with you is the next safest way to handle this situation.
If you have sex: Use a latex condom with water based lubricant (to not harm the latex) every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms will protect you from STDs much of the time – about 75%.
Use plastic (polyurethane condoms) if you are allergic to latex. These come for both men and woman.
Talk to your partner about past sex partners and about needle drug use. Don’t have sex with anyone who you think may have an STD.
Look closely at your partner for any signs of STD, rash, a sore, warts or a discharge. If you see anything at all that you are concerned about, refrain from having sex!
Protective Actions You can Take:
Vaccines can help protect you: against hepatitis B, and some types of HPV – do ask your health care provider about receiving these.
Know the signs and symptoms of STDs, so if you feel you may contracted one, you can have it checked out.
If you have been having sex with new partners, its a good idea to be checked out to make sure that you aren’t carrying something and not know it.
Please understand that some of these diseases are painful while others can take away aspects of your youth’s life that they now take for granted if not their life itself. It is very important to be realistic and proactive about your dealings with STDs having the “hard” conversations to make certain that your kids have the facts and no where to turn in case they need to access services.
*** I want to credit ETR Associates, a non-profit organization for their wonderful pamphlet for the exact information regarding the STDs that are in this newsletter.
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