VI. STIs: Prevention, Testing, & Signs
Sexually Transmitted Infection(STI): an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans or animals by means of sexual contact, including vagin.al intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Some STIs are also spread through drug needles, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
STIs have been known as Venereal Disease(VD) and Sexually Transmitted Disease(STD), but these terms have fallen out of practice because a person may be infected, and may potentially infect others, without showing signs of disease.
The only way to completely protect against STIs is to not engage in any sexual activity. Engaging in activities like phone sex, cyb.er sex, and masturba.tion(from a distance) can also prevent STIs because of the lack of contact with body fluids, which can lead to transfer. These are some vaccines available to prevent against some types of STIs, but these only work for the kind they were made to prevent(such as Hepatitis B and some forms of HPV).
Its unrealistic to believe that you will forever remain a virgin though, so you are probably interested in what forms of contraception can protect against them. The truth is, very few forms do. Condoms are the only form of birth control that can protect against STIs, though dental dams for oral sex can help as well.
Proper usage of condoms means:
Not putting the condom on too tight at the end, and leaving 1.5 cm (3/4 inch) room at the tip for semen. Putting the condom on snug can and often does lead to failure.
Wearing a condom too loose can defeat the barrier.
Avoiding inverting, spilling a condom once worn, whether it has semen in it or not, even for a second.
Avoiding condoms made of substances other than latex or polyurethane, as they don't protect against HIV.
Avoiding the use of oil based lubricants (or anything with oil in it) with latex condoms, as oil can eat holes into them.
Using flavored condoms for oral sex only, as the sugar in the flavoring can lead to yeast infections if used to penetrate.
STI testing consist of a medical test to detect the presense of an STI and can be done for a single infection or for a wide number of them. There is no test that detects all types of infections, so be aware of what you are being tested for. Also, tests are the only way to be sure that you do have an STI.
STI tests are used for many things, such as:
as a diagnostic test to determine the cause of symptoms or illness
as a screening test to detect asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections
as a check that prospective long-term sexual partners are free of disease before they engage in sex without safer sex precautions (for example, in fluid bonding, or to attempt to have a baby).
as a check prior to or during pregnancy, to prevent harm to the baby
as a check after birth, to check that the baby has not caught an STI from their mother
to prevent the use of infected donated blood or organs
as part of the process of contact tracing from a known infected individual
as part of mass epidemiological surveillance
Before becoming involved with a new partner, you should always be tested and have them tested as well. While many teens think this is uncool, this is your life on the line. Don't be afraid to drop your partner if they refuse to have a test, regardless of their claims regarding their sex history(or lack thereof).
When you get tested, it is important to come clean with your doctor. Tell him how many partners you've had, any risky behavior you have participated in, and if and what type of birth control you are using. After you talk with your doctor, you can then expect a physical exam to look for any outward symptoms. That and what you told your doctor affects what comes next, which can be blood tests, urine tests, swab tests, and/or a visual exam. Each are for specific types, so be sure that you told the entire truth to your doctor or you may not be properly diagnosed.
Common Types & Symptoms
It is never a guarantee that you will show symptoms. In fact, some people never show symptoms or don't develop them for years. These can be signs that though you do have an STI and should get tested.
Itching around the vagin.a and/or discharge from the vagin.a for women
Discharge from the pen.is for men
Pain during sex or when urinating
Pain in the pelvic area
Sore throats in people who have oral sex
Pain in or around the anus for people who have anal sex
Chancre sores (painless red sores) on the genital area, anus, tongue and/or throat
A scaly rash on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet
Dark urine, loose, light-colored stools, and yellow eyes and skin
Small blisters that turn into scabs on the genital area
Swollen glands, fever and body aches
Unusual infections, unexplained fatigue, night sweats and weight loss
Soft, flesh-colored warts around the genital area