STIs are commonly prevalent infections contracted during acts of intimacy. Most STIs do not initially show symptoms, and this leads to an increased risk of transmitting the disease. STIs acquired before or during birth can have serious consequences for the baby.
More than 30 different bacteria and viruses can cause STIs. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis among others, while viral STIs include genital herpes, HIV / AIDS, and genital warts among others.
How do STIs spread?
Many STIs spread through contact with infected body fluids such as blood, vaginal fluids, or sperm. Modes of transmission include:
- Sexual transmission (including oral and anal sex)
- Skin-to-skin contact (i.e., kissing, non-penetrating sex, and body rub)
- Mixture of infectious body fluids (blood, sperm, and vaginal secretions)
- Sharing needles and other medical accessories, or stings by infected needles
- From a pregnant woman to her unborn fetus, or to infants during vaginal birth or through breast milk
How can I prevent myself from getting an STI?
The best action plan to avoid infection is through abstaining. If you decide to have sex, you should:
- Make sure you use the condoms correctly.
- Use a water-based lubricant with condoms. The lubricant will prevent the condom from bursting. Never use lubricants containing oil or grease such as Vaseline or cooking oil. These products weaken the “latex” and can cause condom breakage.
- Limit the number of people with whom you have sex. If you have many sexual partners you have, the risk of being infected is higher.
- You should ask your partner (s) if they have an STI, have been exposed to one or more physical symptoms of an STI.
- DO NOT have sex with a person who has signs of an STI (sores, rashes, or discharge from the genital area).
What should I do if I think I have an STI?
If you think you have been exposed to an STI (even if you have no symptoms), see your doctor right away and take your test. You can not properly test or diagnose an STI by yourself. Only your doctor can do it. Most STIs can are manageable and can be treatable. The sooner you receive treatment, the better for you. More severe problems may develop if you delay.