Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are common among sexually active teens, and should be given more consideration. Teens should be more aware of what STDs are out there, and that they should be doing to get tested and to be protected against them.

What are STD’s:

STDs are sexually transmitted diseases. They are usually viral, and often have serious side effects, symptoms, etc.

A look at the common STD’s:

BV – Bacterial Vaginosis: This is a sexually transmitted disease common for teen girls, it occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria. The most common symptoms are pain, itching, burning, discharge, and odor. It is sometimes confused with yeast infections.

Chlamydia and LGV: Most teens have heard of Chlamydia. This STD can damage a woman’s reproductive organs, and make it impossible for them to have children in the future. This is an STD that is often not taken seriously because the symptoms are so mild, and in some cases absent. However, this disease can cause irreversible damage. In a man it often causes infection in the penis which results in discharge.

Gonorrhea: This is another commonly heard of STD among teens. It is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is a bacterium. This particular bacterium multiplies quickly, especially in warm, moist areas. So, it spreads quickly in the reproductive tract of a female, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. It also affects the urethra (urine canal) in both women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. Symptoms of this STD are a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles as well.

Genital Herpes:  This is an STD commonly joked about, but very common. The reason is that most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms so it spreads easily. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum depending on where the herpes is located. The blisters can break and leave tender ulcers.

HPV or the Human Papillomavirus Infection: This is caused by viruses which are sexually transmitted, and infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva, or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum. This infection may not show symptoms, but can cause problems with your reproductive tract. Many people will overcome the infection on their own.

Syphilis: This is a common STD that does not have many signs and symptoms, but it can be spread to an infant if you have it and get pregnant. It is also bad for the reproductive tract.

Trichomoniasis: This is a very common STD in teen girls, and puts them at higher risk of getting HIV infected. This is because it causes genital inflammation which increases her susceptibility to HIV.

Avoiding STD’s:

The best and only real way to avoid STDs is through abstinence. Other good ways is to minimize the number of sexual partners you have, as well as who you have sex with. In addition, it is wise to have all partners tested before you have sex with them.

Getting tested for STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases can happen to anyone, but are more common in people with multiple partners, and thus are extremely common in teens. The following is a look at the basics of getting tested for STDs.

What does it mean to be tested for STDs?

It means that you see a doctor and have them run a test to see if you carry the virus or strain of sexually transmitted diseases they test for. Most STDs are viruses. Some can be taken care of with prescriptions. Some you have forever.

Who should be tested?

Anyone who is worried they may have one should be tested, but generally you want to get tested before you start engaging in sex with a new partner, as you do not want to risk passing an STD to them. In addition, you want to get tested if you have had multiple partners, or if your current partner has had multiple partners. The more partners you or your partner has had, the higher the risk of getting a common STD like Chlamydia or gonorrhea. Testing for other STDs is usually done at the doctor’s discretion based on your answer to questions they ask. For example, a pregnant woman who has had multiple sexual partners will be tested for syphilis. This is because it can be very risky to an infant. Other high risk groups may be tested or screened for other STDs. If you don’t have symptoms, however, you will not usually be tested for STDs unless you ask, or answer questions in ways that indicate risk. So, if you are worried, ask to be tested!

When and where should you be tested?

When you get tested depends on who you see. If you go to a public clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, you will likely be tested for STDs as a standard part of a yearly exam. However, if you are seeing a private doctor you won’t likely get testing as a part of a normal exam. So get tested any time you get a new sexual partner, or yearly if your sexual partners change frequently. Do not assume you are fine because your doctor has not mentioned anything. As a teenager, many doctors may assume you are not sexually active, and thus there is a good chance you have not been tested at all. You should always ask what screening tests your doctor has performed, and don’t hesitate to ask for additional tests if you think they are appropriate. For example, if you hear your ex-boyfriend has a specific STD, you may want to be tested for that STD.

How are tests typically performed?

The tests and screenings for STDs vary from disease to disease, but you can bet they will be done one of the following 3 ways:

Urine samples: This is more typical for males, as their urine passes through the same place as ejaculation, and thus if there is an infection the urine will pick up the bacteria. A girl’s urinary tract is not going to do the same thing.

Swabs: A swab on an area displaying symptoms, or infection of some kind can be tested for specific bacteria cultures.

Blood tests: Syphilis for example can be detected in the blood.

How to know if you have a STD?

doctor with chartsThere are several different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. Using a condom during sex greatly reduces the chance of being infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Practicing abstinence is the only way to be 100% protected from contracted an STD. Knowing the different types of sexually transmitted diseases and their symptoms can help you to determine if you need to see a physician.

  • Chlamydia often times goes untreated because there are no real symptoms. Women may experience abdominal pain. Now just because there are no symptoms doesn’t mean Chlamydia is harmless. Chlamydia can cause both women and men to be infertile. And can cause women to experience infections of the cervix, womb and fallopian tubes.
  • Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that the symptoms appear within two to ten days after having sex with an infected person . Women often experience vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody and have a painful or burning sensation when they urinate. Men who have been infected with gonorrhea will have symptoms more often than women. Experiencing a severe burning sensation during urination and also pus coming out of the penis.
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C the symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and jaundice.
  • HPV, human papilloma virus is a common infection among the general public. It is estimated that 80% of the general population will be infected  with one of the many different types of HPV at some point in their life. Approx thirty different strains of HPV are considered to be sexually transmitted diseases. Some these HPV strains can cause genital warts. Some HPV strains are responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer. There is now cure for human papilloma virus. People infected with HPV likely do not realize they have it. Often your body can fight off the virus on its own. You do not need to have a lot of sexual partners to become infected with the human papilloma virus because it is so common.
  • Genital warts are as common as skin warts. These warts appear in the genital are of men and women. The warts are a pink or reddish color with cauliflower-like tops. If left untreated genital warts may disfigure the genital area affecting sexual activity and urination.
  • AIDS-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a condition that cannot be cured. AIDS is caused by  Human Immunodeficiency Virus also known as HIV. You can become infected with HIV through unprotected vaginal or anal sex, oral sex, blood transfusions and needles for drug injection, ear piercing or tattooing that are not sterilized. Pregnant women can also pass the virus on to their unborn babies. Both of these viruses can be fatal.
  • Crabs are a parasitic insect that infest the hair surrounding the genital areas. Genital crabs are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. They can cause irritation and itchiness to the genital area. Genital crabs can be transmitted not only by sexual intercourse, but by sheet linens and living in cramped quarters with an infected person. Genital crabs is easily treated with an over the counter shampoo. Which is to be applied to the infected areas. Washing all linens, clothes and bedding that may have been infected is an important part of getting rid of genital crabs.

These are just a few of the many sexually transmitted diseases that exist. If you are having unprotected or even protected sex with multiple partners you increase the risk of being infected with genital crabs. If you engage in unprotected sex you may find yourself leaving the situation with much more than you bargained for.