There are different ways to show intimacy with your partner. For this, both of you and your partner should know about sexual health. While sexual health includes several problems such as – family planning, lessening pain and maximizing pain, it means doing one’s part in avoiding sexually transmitted infections or STIs. Though STIs may usually be asymptomatic, there are various symptoms to lookout for in symptomatic cases.
Difference between an STI and an STD
You will find these terms can be used interchangeably though there is slight difference between sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Common STIs include –chlamydia, genital herpes, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, trichomoniasis and HIV. You can have any of these STIs without having an STD. You may be asymptomatic which means you do not have any active ailment or symptoms. But this will mean you can spread this infection to others. Since different STIs can be asymptomatic, regular testing even when you don’t have symptoms is part of your routine health care.
How common are sexually transmitted infections?
Nearly 1 in 5 people suffer from an STI with all new infections in the age group of 15 to 24 years. One misconception is that STIs are an issue for younger people though anyone who remains sexually active at any age can get an STI. Common STIs like Chlamydia may lead to a few if any symptoms though this may pose some risk for transmission over half of all people having chlamydia infection.
How often you need to test for STIs
Given the greater chances of having an STI when there are no symptoms, it is important to conduct routine STI screening. This allows you to undergo treatment and protect yourself with whom you have been sexually active. When you remain sexually active, it is advisable that you perform yearly testing for syphilis, HIV chlamydia, trichomoniasis and gonorrhea. People who perform anal intercourse need to consider frequent testing in every 3 to 6 months. Your testing schedule depends on the number of people you have sex with and what you do when you have intercourse.
Signs and symptoms of STIs
- Painful urine –A severe discomfort or burning sensation at the time of urination may denote an infection such as – gonorrhoea and chlamydia. This may be related to the urge of urinating frequently. These symptoms can be confused with urinary tract infection and not due to sexual activities.
- Pelvic or lower abdominal pain – Lower abdominal pain in your pelvic area may denote an STI and require testing with a cervical/vaginal swab, urine test or rectal swab.
- Painful defecation – If you are engaged in anal intercourse, it is possible to get an STI such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia. These may lead to severe pain with defecation.
- Unusual urethral, anal or vaginal discharge – Any kind of discharge may denote an STI such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
- Persistent sore throat – When you engage in oral sex such as analingus, fellatio or cunnilingus, you might get an STI of the throat. Having a persistently sore throat might denote Gonorrhoea infection. If you have had performed oral sex and negative testing for throat infections, you can consider testing for STI.
- Sores or new bumps – If you find a new bump in an area where you have had sexual contact, it is worthy enough to consider testing for STI. Different STIs may present a new bump which can either be painful or painless. Syphilis and herpes are common STIs which lead to bumps that require testing.
- Blood in urine – The infections of gonorrhoea and chlamydia may be the reason for blood in your urine. The presence of blood in urine may be orange or pale pink and related to pain with urination.
- Blood in stool – Constant blood in the stool may denote an STI when you perform anal intercourse.
How you can prevent an STI
Apart from screening and testing when you have STI symptoms, there are other ways to protect your sexual health. Condoms can help to prevent STIs such as – HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. There are other layers of protection to avoid STIs.
- Hepatitis – When you need to take vaccination for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, this may add another layer of protection against liver disease and some forms of liver cancer.
- HPV – HPV vaccine has lessened the risk of infection, genital warts, and cancer.
- Meningococcal – Some bacterial STIs can be the reason for severe infection such as meningitis. There are two vaccines available against common cause of meningitis.
It is important to conduct routine health screening and test for STDs so that you can avoid spreading the infection to others. This will enable more pleasurable sexual experiences with minimal discomfort.