Covering a taboo subject is always difficult. And that’s especially true when discussing sexual wellness, hygiene, and STDs. Indeed, there are few subjects that can turn people off faster than that of sexually transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, it’s an important topic to explore precisely because it’s so widely misunderstood by the general public. In fact, the stigma around STDs is one that is almost more harmful than STDs themselves! With that in mind, today we’ll tackle everything you need to know about sexual health and wellness –– and how to ensure you live a happy and healthy life as a result:
Sex Defined and Clarified
You can thank Bill Clinton for some of the confusion regarding what exactly constitutes “having sex” with someone. Jokes aside, there are plenty of people who don’t know exactly what sex is –– and how you can even get an STD if you haven’t “gone all the way.” For our purposes, there are three types of sex that contribute to STD transmission: oral, anal, and vaginal. Engaging in any of these acts can lead to the spread of STDs. Obviously that’s not always the case, and there are certain measures you can take to protect your own well-being (in addition your partner’s).
Condoms: Usage and Purpose
Condoms are fantastic contraceptives –– provided you use them correctly. In fact, they’re a proven effective method at preventing conception when deployed properly. Additionally, they also offer protection against STDs –– to a certain extent. That’s right, condoms are not 100% effective at preventing the spread of STDs. Using them during intercourse definitely lowers the risk of STD contraction, but certain diseases like herpes transmit from person to person through skin-to-skin contact –– condom notwithstanding.
Signs and Symptoms of STDs
One big issue medical professionals face in the fight to eradicate STDs and promote widespread sexual wellness is that most people who have an STD don’t even know they have it! It’s a frightening thought for sure. The truth is though, most STDs are asymptomatic; or if they do manifest symptoms, people may mistake them for pimples, ingrown hairs, or in some instances, yeast infections. Just because an STD looks innocuous on the outside doesn’t mean it’s harmless –– far from it. Note: no two STDs are identical. While they may share certain characteristics, trying to self-diagnose is a bad idea that could have massive repercussions.
Dealing with STDs: Prevention and Management
First and foremost, all sexually active individuals should seek out STD tests regularly if they want to stay STD free. This is particularly apt for individuals who are seeing new partners. What’s more, there are other ways you can work to avoid STDs including:
- Condom usage during all forms of sexual intercourse.
- Discussing sexual history with your partner before intercourse.
- Avoiding shared towels or underclothing.
- Washing thoroughly before and after intercourse.
Remember, the only way to absolutely prevent contracting an STD is to practice abstinence.
Alternatively, medical science is making managing STDs more accessible and less stressful than ever before. (That’s not to say living with an STD isn’t stressful –– HIV and other STDs can be life-threatening.) Typically, bacterial infections are quite straightforward to eradicate. For the uninitiated, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, are all bacterial STDs. Viral infections like HIV and herpes don’t have cures, but the sooner they’re detected, the more likely treatment can have a positive effect in managing the condition.
Getting an STD isn’t the end of the world. And educating yourself on the subject is one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle –– both in and out of the bedroom!