We’re not about to deny that sex is fun, but the frightening truth is sex can also be hazardous to your health. Women, who are generally on the receiving end of any bodily fluid exchange, are especially susceptible to STD infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis. In the interest of happy, healthy love lives for all, we’re pleased to present a few preventative pointers with women in mind.
Not all women show the same STD symptoms
It’s imperative for every woman to understand that not everyone experiences symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease or infection. Sometimes, symptoms come and go, leading an infected woman to believe nothing’s wrong. For this reason, it’s super important that all sexually active women, no matter what their age, be periodically tested.
That said, here are some of the signs and symptoms of a variety of sexually transmittable diseases that Mayo Clinic says you’ll want to watch out for:
Gonorrhea is a common STD and easily cured with an injection or two of penicillin. Women with gonorrhea may see no signs at all, but painful urination, bleeding between periods, and thick, cloudy vaginal discharge may be considered typical. Itching and uncomfortable bowel movements may also be present with a gonorrhea infection. Symptoms may take a week or more after exposure to be evident, so don’t think that just because you feel okay after having unprotected sex, you are not infected. You should still be tested regularly.
A bacterial infection known as chlamydia has reached epic numbers in the general sexually-active population. Mainly affecting the genital tract, chlamydia may cause very few symptoms, especially in the early stages of infection. Symptoms may appear up to three weeks after exposure. The surest way to know you don’t have chlamydia is to be tested.
HIV is one of the most dangerous STDs around. If you get it, you could become a full-blown AIDS patient at any time in the future. Signs of HIV to watch out for include severe night sweats, inflamed lymph glands in the groin and armpits, a strange rash, and unexplained fatigue.
When genital herpes causes symptoms, they are unmistakable. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), herpes can enter your body through any small break in the skin. Once you have it, you have it and can spread the virus to others without even knowing it. As a rule, the first herpes episode is the worst. Some people who have herpes never experience a second episode. Some experience outbreaks for the rest of their life.
Protection is the best medicine
Ask any health professional, and they’re sure to tell you that the only 100 percent foolproof way to avoid STD infection is to avoid sex completely. Barring that not-so-fun preventative measure, use a latex condom every time you have sex. Use a latex dental dam when enjoying oral attentions. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how to properly use a condom. The only time you can safely skip a condom is when you know your partner is uninfected and faithful, and you are too.
Know who you’re sleeping with well before you become physically intimate. The fewer sex playmates you have, the lesser your chances of becoming infected with gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and other dreaded STDs. Before you enter into a sexual relationship with anyone, straight, bi, or same-sex, get tested. Do it together or go on your own. Don’t trust anyone who says they’re clean without proof. Sorry, but that’s the way things sometimes are these days. As an adult, it’s up to you to protect your health and well-being, even if it’s a bit embarrassing to ask for an STD test. EmedicineHealth additionally recommends women avoid douching. Vaccines for human papilloma virus are something adolescent females should speak about with their physician or nurse practitioner.
Getting tested doesn’t have to be hard
Having an STD test is nobody’s idea of a good time. Fortunately, most tests for sexually transmitted infections are quick, easy, and relatively painless. If you’re concerned about your privacy, don’t be. Many clinics provide full secrecy for their clients. Learn more about your options for STD testing and you’ll most likely find a clinic that assures your confidentiality. Ask a trusted friend if they’ve been tested, and where.
Let’s face it, being a grownup is not always easy, but the rewards can be well worth it. You can eat ice cream for dinner if you want, and nobody forces you to make your bed or do the dishes. Still, you’ve got to pay attention to your sexual health, and a big part of that care involves periodic testing for STDs.
About the Author
Natalie Martin is a freelance writer, and when she is not working on her next article she can usually be found in her garden. She attended the University of Cincinnati before turning to writing and now spends much of her time drawing attention to some of the major health problems that are plaguing the country today. Natalie resides along the Gulf Coast with her 6-year-old Labrador Retriever.
Photo Credits: Pixabay