As you already know from that “awkward” sex education session in High School (hopefully you attended it, and actually got to learn something from it) that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are diseases (as the name suggests) that are spread by having sex with someone who already had an STD. The bad news is that anyone (seriously anyone) can get it, but the good news is that you can arm yourself with knowledge to prevent damage.
Without trying to scare you, STDs are serious illnesses that require treatment as soon as they’ve been detected.
Actually, STDs aren’t just about sex. They can be transmitted from a sexual activity that involves the mouth, anus, vagina or penis. In case you were wondering - wearing a condom doesn’t provide absolute protection against these, smarty pants!
Although AIDS is the deadliest and most-talked-about STD, it isn’t the only one. There is a whole set of genital herpes, human papilloma virus/genital warts, hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea that no one talks about. Hmmm. So, here's everything you NEED to know about getting an STD test done.
So, How Will You Know?
Well, the problem is, sometimes, there are just no symptoms. But you might want to keep a check on unexpected bumps, sores or warts near the mouth, anus, vagina (or penis, if you are a man). Sex could be painful and there could be swelling, itching or redness near the vagina.
Bleeding and that terrible vaginal discharge odour (aarrrrgh), a skin rash, painful urination, aches, pains, fever, and chills or jaundice – yes, it’s possible. These are signs one must NOT ignore.
Can It Be Treated?
Yes, that is if you stop procrastinating and actually go to a medic. Don’t panic. Let the doctor examine you and prescribe an STD Test Profile (done at standard laboratories, costs between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000) to determine if you actually have a disease.
But also be warned that some “not-so-nice doctors” can scare you for no reasons at all. True story. Choose your doctor wisely!
Most tests used to detect STDs use blood, saliva or urine samples. These tests include your CBC (Complete Blood Count), urine routine, VDRL, HIV 1 & 2, Hepatitis B (Australia Antigen), Hepatitis C (HCV), HSV 1 & 2 IgG, HSV 1 & 2 IgM; additional tests for Chlamydia IgA, IgG and IgM are done too… Pheeww!
So, coming back to the question, actually, most STDs are fully or partially curable with the right treatment. So, don’t go into a shell, yet. Talking about STDs is still a taboo in this country, but unless we talk about them, we wouldn’t be able to get rid of them (and hence stop spreading them).
What’s the treatment like?
Like most common diseases, many STDs can be treated with antibiotics. However, never take someone else's medicine to treat your illness and definitely don’t wait for a miracle to happen (this isn’t a movie, you are going to need medical assistance). Make sure you take your full-prescribed course of antibiotics, even if the symptoms go away.
Some doctors provide additional antibiotics to be given to your partner, so that you two can be treated at the same time. And that’s completely okay!
How do I protect myself against them?
Take control. You have the facts - now protect yourself and your partner by getting tested, observing abstinence (if positive), getting vaccinated (to prevent hepatitis B and HPV) and embracing mutual monogamy (be sexually active with only one person).
Go ahead, live a happy, healthy (sex) life!
MUST-READ: Know Your STDs: A Primer for All Women Planning on Doing the Deed
MUST-READ: #GirlTalk: How To Take Care Of Your Lady Parts