STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are shockingly taboo considering how common they have become. In our culture, it is implied that someone who has an STD is bad or dirty, but that is a huge misconception. Sometimes people don’t even know that they have the disease (or virus) because they have no symptoms. Some can lay latent for years before they show any signs. The thing is, though, that all of them are preventable! And not in some crazy, complicated way that will make you want to say that sex isn’t worth it. Most of them can be avoided by simply wearing a condom! That’s something you should be doing anyway, especially if you are not in a long term, monogamous relationship. That being said, you should ALWAYS know your partner’s sexual history before you get in between the sheets! I understand not wanting to kill the mood, but your safety is way more important! And if you don’t find out your partner’s history — and especially if you have unprotected sex — please get yourself to a clinic (like Planned Parenthood) or a doctor’s office and get tested ASAP! While some of the illnesses may take a few days or weeks to show themselves, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
There are many different STDs that you can contract, but I’ll just outline some of the most common. For more information on any of the diseases/infections listed here, please check out the Center of Disease Control.
Chlamydia (a bacterial infection)
- Painful urination
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal or penile discharge
Gonorrhea (a bacterial infection)
- Thick, cloudy, or bloody genital discharge
- Painful urination
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding
- Anal itching
Trichomoniasis (a genital parasite)
- Clear, white, greenish, or yellowish vaginal discharge
- Strong vaginal odor
- Vaginal itching
- Pain during sex
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Many early symptoms of HIV present themselves similarly to flu-like symptoms. If left unchecked, this can lead to AIDS, which is severely life-threatening. Some early signs of HIV include:
- Swollen lymph glands
- Sore throat
There are several more types of STDs that are common, and you can find them here. Even if you’re not having sex, you should look these things up because one day you may be having sex; and, you never know, a friend may have an STD and not know it. They may ask you to help them identify their problem, and it would probably be super awkward to be googling STDs while staring at your friend’s naked nether regions. Again, in case anything I’ve talked about is unclear…the easiest way to avoid an STD? WEAR A CONDOM! If you think you may have an STD…GO TO A DOCTOR! Not sure if your partner may have an STD? ASK! Trust me, the best way to enjoy sex is to safely participate in it.