Taking responsibility for your sexual health ranges from planning out pregnancy and pregnancy prevention to growing intimacy with your partner through understanding how your partner best receives pleasure. But one element of sexual health that doesn’t often get the attention it deserves is sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Whether you do or do not have any personal experience with them, sexually transmitted diseases are a subject that every health-conscious adult needs to understand.
Testing for STIs
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from a sexually transmitted infection, the first step is to contact your primary care physician. Once you’ve scheduled a visit to your doctor, being honest with them about your sexual activity is imperative. Testing for STIs is not a regular part of a standard checkup, so you should not schedule a checkup expecting to be tested. Remember that honesty is the first step in getting tested for STIs.
Once this conversation has taken place, your doctor will determine which tests are best for your circumstances. This step is necessary because different STIs require different kinds of tests. They include urine tests, cheek swabs, blood tests, physical examinations and removal of fluids or cell samples with a swab.
Not all tests will render immediate results; some will come back the same day, while others can take days or even weeks to show results. After getting tested, make a note to call your doctor after some time has passed if you don’t find out your test results immediately.
What are the Symptoms of STIs?
The range of options for detecting STIs available in modern medical facilities is impressive, but how can you tell if you should go in for testing in the first place? The key is to stay on the lookout for the physical symptoms that might indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted disease or infection. These symptoms vary for different infections, so don’t be afraid to research.
The list of symptoms includes some that are similar to the flu, such as fever, body aches, swollen glands and a general tired feeling. Other symptoms are more localized to the genitalia, such as unusual discharge, itching, sores or bumps and a burning sensation during urination. Increased frequency of urination, as well as irritation or swelling of the penis, vagina, vulva or anus, can also be an indicator. Symptoms also include flesh-colored warts around the genital area, blisters around the genital area or scaly rashes over the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Some sexually transmitted infections are asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms will present themselves even if you do have the infection. Although no symptoms may be present, it is still possible for you to pass the infection along to your sexual partners, which means it’s important to get tested regularly.
How Can I Avoid STIs?
Whether you have personal experience with sexually transmitted infections or not, it’s essential to know what steps you and future partners can take to avoid catching them in the future. One of the simplest is to remember to use condoms – whether made out of latex or polyurethane – every time you engage in sexual intercourse. A more comprehensive prevention method is to keep track of and reduce your number of sexual partners since an increase in partners increases the chance of getting an STI.
It is also critical to understand that some kinds of sexual activity carry more risk than others. Anal sex, for example, poses a certain risk to tissues in the rectum that can break easily. Because it involves a potential tissue rupture, anal sex carries a higher risk of transmitting an STI. Bodily fluids, of course, can also transmit STIs. So, whether or not you’re in a monogamous relationship, knowing the facts about STI symptoms and testing is crucial for taking responsibility for your sexual health