Whether you’re a missionary maiden or a freak of the week, having a sexually transmitted disease isn’t sexy and knowing your status should be a top priority no matter how many times you have had or have sex.
This article is the definition of TMI so only keep reading it you want to be an educated hun and know more about my sex life post reading.
Sexual health is not something that I would have thought about much before I started working in the health/wellness sector, and without getting too graphic, I am extremely lucky that I have never had an STD.
When we’re in college or we’re just being reckless for the sake of it, we’re usually thinking more about preventing pregnancies and less about chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and all of the other tongue twisters out there, excuse the pun.
Regardless of how woke you are, talking about an itchy area, discharge or swelling isn’t something any of us want to do, because it’s not a pleasant topic of conversation and it takes the glamour out of spilling the tea of your naughty nonsense to your pals.
I am going to try to make this article as fun and non-gross as possible so I will start by telling you about my experiences of getting screened.
The first time I got tested was three years ago when I was in college. Up until the point where the lady was up in my lady garden with a swab, I had never thought about the multiple times I put myself in danger through thinking that the no pregnancy patch was enough to keep me clean. Silly girl.
I then had to wait for three weeks to get my results. I told people that I was getting tested so I could write an article about it but in truth, I was shitting myself because I hadn’t had fully locked and loaded protected sex a number of times and I was terrified that I was after getting the clap.
Three scary weeks later, the results arrived and I was clean as a whistle. I chain smoked the full way down to the free college clinic and nearly cried with happiness to be told that I was as right as rain.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the silly things I believed before getting tested, for the first time.
Common Misconceptions I Had About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- You can only get an STD through penetrative sex. (Silly)
- You couldn’t get an STD through having sex with a lady. (Have you ever heard of trichomoniasis?)
- People would tell you if they have an STD and they wouldn’t have sex with you if they were unsure of their status.
- You would probably be able to tell if someone had a sexually transmitted disease just by looking at them.
Now that we have made sense of what a foolish woman I am, let’s take a look at the next round of testing which occurred approximately ten months ago when I started my current role and I started to appreciate my sexual health a lot more, it would be hard not too when you spend as much time as I do writing about infected genitalia.
You would think after my first scary experience of not using condoms, with people that I knew, you know, kind of well (for two hours), college eh, that I would have inherited a little bit more cop on.
To not make a non-event of a story longer than it deserves to be, I trusted an individual when I asked them when they had their last checkup before sleeping with them. They said three weeks and that they were clean. They were a liar my friends, a liar.
Let this life lesson of mine be a story of inspiration to not ask men when their last checkup was just before a sexy moment because they will choose a random date and pretend they are grand as the blood leaves their brains and rushes elsewhere.
Anyway, a few weeks later I was ghosted.
About six weeks after that, I received a DM (that was slightly accusatory) saying that they had chlamydia and I should probably get myself checked out.
I could write a book on how shady that whole scenario was but at the end of the day, your sexual health is your responsibility. My choice to not use a condom was my choice and that’s something that I need to live with and can’t put on anyone else.
I had a complete STD test done about two weeks before that harrowing DM and I was again, good to go. I got tested again after that DM obviously, because I was not prepared to have to tell my friends I got chlamydia off some complicated fuck boy character that left me on read. I finally learned my lesson and I have not had sex without a condom since, my friends.
Trust me, the peace of mind is better.
So what is the purpose of this article other than dragging men and offering insight into the nitty gritty bits of my tragic sex life?
It’s because I have researched this topic to bits so I want to offer some insight that you can rely on incase you ever have scary sexy moments and you’re not sure if you can trust wikipedia or not.
Animal Planet Youtube Video
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the world after HPV.
- Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.
- Chlamydia is most commonly contracted through vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- The symptoms of chlamydia may become apparent 1-3 weeks after exposure, however, it is common to not notice symptoms for months or even years.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Chlamydia?
- Painful urination
- Discharge from penis in men
- Lower abdominal pain
- Testicular pain in men
- Rectal pain, bleeding or discharge
- Prostate gland infection
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
- Pain during sex in women
- Rectal pain, bleeding or discharge
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
HPV is so common that nearly all men and women contract the virus at some point in their lives, however some strains of the virus by be cancer-causing and detrimental to your health.
- HPV is caused by a group of more than 150-related viruses. HPV can cause cancer, warts (papillomas), or may present with no symptoms at all.
- HPV is most commonly contracted through vaginal or anal sex.
- The symptoms of HPV may take years and sometimes decades to develop.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of HPV?
- Warts on the genitals
- Warts on the back of the throat
- Abnormal skin changes on the genitals
- Penile cancer (high-risk strains of HPV)
- Cancer of the vagina, vulva, or oropharyngeal (back of throat)
Gonorrhea has become increasingly drug resistant which contributes to the rising incidence rates of sexually transmitted diseases worldwide.
- Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
- Gonorrhea is most commonly contracted through oral, anal or vaginal sex.
- The symptoms of gonorrhea may become apparent 2-5 days after exposure, however it may take upto 30 days to become aware of your symptoms.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Gonorrhea?
- Increased need to urinate
- White, beige or green discharge from the vagina
- Pain or burning during urination
- Heavy periods
- Spotting between periods
- A sore throat
- Pain similar to cramping in the lower abdomen
- Higher than normal temperature
- Increased need to urinate
- White, yellow, beige or green discharge or drip from the penis
- Swelling of the penis or testicles
- Redness or swelling at the opening of the penis
- A sore throat
Syphilis infection can last for decades if left undetected, and may causes significant health complications including the increased risk of H.I.V transmission or acquisition.
- Syphilis is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum.
- Syphilis is most commonly contracted through oral, anal and vaginal sex, however it is easily passed through skin to skin contact by sores known as chancres, which may be painless but are highly contagious.
- The primary symptoms of syphilis may become apparent upto three weeks after infection, however it may take 10-90 for them to become noticeable. More chronic symptoms can take years to present themselves.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Syphilis?
There are three stages of symptomatic syphilis and the symptoms for men and women are similar. Let’s take a look at the symptoms for each stage of syphilis.
- Primary Syphilis
The first sign of syphilis is a lesion known as a chancre on the external or internal surface of your skin. The sore appears at the point of bacterial contact. Chancres are usually painless and may be hidden within the vagina or rectum which is why testing in the early stages is so important. Chancres often heal themselves but it doesn’t mean that you no longer have syphilis.
- Secondary Syphilis
A few weeks after your chancre heals, it is likely that you will experience a full body rash, this often appears on the palms of your feet or on your hands. There is a high chance that you will feel ill. Fever, headaches and skin growths on the genitals are also common.
- Tertiary Syphilis
Tertiary syphilis follows the “latent stage” of syphilis, in which symptoms of syphilis are not apparent. The tertiary stage can occur upto years following the unsuccessful detection of syphilis. It may affect the function of the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.
Did you know that cold sores are classified as a sexually transmitted disease? The herpes simplex virus comes in two strands, one strand causes painful blisters on the genitals, while the other causes a small painful blister on the mouth. Herpes Simplex I most commonly causes cold sores and genital herpes. 80% of the population has herpes simplex I. It causes 40% of genital herpes cases.
- Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus.
- Herpes is most commonly contracted through skin to skin contact through kissing (saliva) and vaginal, anal or oral sex (semen and vaginal secretions.)
- The symptoms of herpes may become apparent 2-20 days following infection
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Herpes?
- Small bumps on the genitals
- Ulcers which make urination painful
- Oozing or bleeding from blisters
- Scabs on the genitals
- Sores on the eyes, buttocks, anus, cervix, mouth or urethra
- Burning or itching at the point of sexual contact
- Pain in your lower back, buttocks and/or legs
Trichomoniasis is a condition that is more common in females, older women are more likely to become infected with trichomoniasis than younger women. 30% of those who have trichomoniasis do not experience any symptoms.
- Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.
- Trichomoniasis is most commonly contracted through oral, anal and vaginal sex.
- The symptoms of trichomoniasis may take 1-4 weeks to become apparent following the initial infection.
What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Trichomoniasis?
- Itching or burning inside of the vagina
- Redness or pain inside the vagina
- Itching or burning during urination
- Unusual discharge from the vagina: often the consistency and volume will change, the colour of your discharge may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
- A fishy smell coming from the vagina
- Itching or a burning sensation inside the penis
- Itching or burning sensation during urination
- Unusual drip or discharge from the penis
H.I.V can be fatal if left untreated, as it progresses to AIDS. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, 70 million people have been infected with H.I.V and 35 million people have died from the virus.
- H.I.V named after the virus that causes it, this virus is called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (H.I.V).
- H.I.V is may be contracted through unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex, the sharing of injecting equipment, from mother to child during pregnancy, birth and blood transfusions and through the contaminated blood transfusions.
- The symptoms of H.I.V may take 2-6 weeks to become apparent after infection, however
- they may take years to become noticeable to the person living with them.
What Are The Symptoms Of H.I.V?
- Sore throat
- Recurrent yeast infections and/or bacterial vaginosis
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Muscle aches and/or joint pain
- Sore throat and/or swollen glands
- Painful mouth sores
Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver failure, cirrosis (liver scarring) or cancer of the liver.
- Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
- Hepatitis B is most commonly contracted through anal, oral and vaginal sex, sharing the same injection equipment, working in a healthcare environment, and from mother to child.
- The symptoms of Hepatitis B will most commonly become apparent 2 weeks-4 months after the time of infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis B In Men And Women?
The symptoms of hepatitis B in men and women are quite similar. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Dark coloured urination
- Feeling persistently feverish
- Aches and pains in your joints
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and/or fatigue
- Yellowing of the skin or the whites of your eyes
Gardnerella is a condition which only affects women, it is also known as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). 50% of women who are diagnosed with gardnerella will not experience any symptoms. Gardnerella is considered by some as a sexually transmitted disease but it can be contracted through a number of circumstances.
- Conditions associated with gardnerella are caused by an bacteria that combat lactobacillus bacteria .
- It is not fully understood how gardnerella is contracted. However it is widely believed that it may be caused by lactobacillus being replaced by other types of bacteria that are normally present in smaller concentrations in the vagina.
- The symptoms of Gardnerella circumstantial are dependent on the bacterial balance in your vagina.
- Some risk factors for gardnerella include a history of multiple sexual partners, vaginal douching or washing the vagina, smoking and certain contraceptives, including an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device.)
What Are The Symptoms Of Gardnerella In Women?
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain or burning after sex
- Vaginal discharge that may be white or grey in colour
- Vaginal discharge that has a strong, foul order
- Vaginal itching or dryness
Mycoplasma exists in two primary strands. Mycoplasma pneumoniae commonly causes respiratory tract infections, and in serious cases, pneumonia. Mycoplasma genitalium is an emerging sexually transmitted disease which causes physiological inflammation of the urinary and genital tracts in men and women.
In serious cases, it can cause arthritis as well as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. Mycoplasma acts as a primer to other sexually transmitted diseases, most commonly, gardnerella (bacterial vaginosis).
- Conditions associated with mycoplasma are caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma genitalium (MG).
- Mycoplasma is generally contracted through vaginal sex and foreplay.
- The symptoms of mycoplasma may become apparent 2-35 days after the time of infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Mycoplasma?
- Itching or burning sensation when urinating
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- A red or inflamed cervix, also known as cervicitis
- Pain in the pelvis
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding between periods or after sex
- Stinging or burning when passing urine
Ureaplasma bacteria have been found in both men and women with infertility problems. A genital tract infection may cause up to 15 percent of all cases of male infertility cases.
- Conditions associated with ureaplasma are caused by a group of tiny bacteria called ureaplasma urealyticum that live in the urinary and reproductive tracts.
- Conditions associated with ureaplasma occur when bacteria overgrow and inflame healthy tissues. This creates a colony of infection causing bacteria which lead to negative symptoms and side effects. Ureaplasma may be contracted through sexual contact and from mother to child.
- The symptoms of ureaplasma may become apparent 2-35 days after the time of infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ureaplasma?
- Burning or pain during urination
- Frequent urination
- Slow urine stream
- Difficulty empty the bladder
- Pain or itching during sex
Are you suitably freaked out? I’m sorry if you are, I am not here to fear monger, I’m just trying to connect the dots and make sure that we all stay safe because our sexual health is just as important as all the other aspects like nutrition, sleep, dental care, not having a flu etc etc etc.
Should you get an STD test? The simple answer is yes. You should get tested for a sexually transmitted disease if you are sexually active.
You should especially get tested if:
- You have had unprotected sex (sex without a condom, whatever about birth control)
- You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (check out how long it takes for symptoms to arrive in the above fact bundles.)
- You are entering into a new sexual relationship (the convo doesn’t need to be awks, just tell your fella or lady that you saw this article)
- You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.) (stunning)
You should wait a minimum of 3 weeks from the time of sexual intercourse before taking your test. Sexually transmitted infections can take a period of time to become detectable. You might want to take a test as soon as you are experiencing symptoms, however, you must wait as per the above information to ensure an accurate result.