Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) — What You Need to Know

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired daily around the globe – and that is quite a significant figure. What are sexually transmitted infections? These are infections caused by bacteria or viruses that are transmitted through blood and body fluids like semen and vaginal fluid.

Who are at Risk

Who are at risk of contracting STIs? From the name itself (“sexually transmitted”), a person can be infected through sexual contact. Any sexually active individual is at risk. However, sexual contact is not the sole cause of infection.

What are the other risk factors? First, having unprotected sex. Since STIs are passed on to another person through body fluids, having sexual intercourse with an infected person puts you at a higher risk. Some believe that oral sex is less risky, but that doesn’t discount the possibility of infection.  Thus, vaginal, rectal, or oral unprotected sex is a top risk factor. Another risk factor is multiple sexual partners. However, individuals who are in polygamous relationships are not the only ones at risk. People who are monogamous and have a single, continuous relationship is also at risk.

Since STIs are also transferred through blood, infants born from mothers with STI are also at risk to have HIV, gonorrhea, and other STIs. Additionally, people who inject illegal drugs and those who reuse needles are at risk of getting hepatitis C or HIV.

How STIs Affect Your Life

STIs can affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. It affects every aspect of one’s life. Physically, a person may not be able to have sexual intercourse for a time to give space for recovery. Some may even experience physical discomfort. Some STIs may worsen and become sexually transmitted diseases (STD). For example, a person infected with gonorrhea will eventually develop pelvic inflammatory disease. Also, we know how society has a negative view of people with STIs and STDs. Regarding the mental and emotional aspect, we worry about what people around us — our family, friends, and acquaintances — might think if they find out. Hearing negative comments can crush our spirit.

Treatment and Prevention

How can we avoid sexually transmitted infections? The only sure way is to avoid sex entirely. If this is not possible, we can at least practice safe sex by using a condom during sexual intercourse. We should also observe good hygiene by washing before and after sexual intercourse. Additionally, seek help to combat drug addiction. It will not only reduce your risk of getting an infection but will also improve your life overall.

If you are already suffering from STI, you need to seek the help of your doctor at once. Your doctor will run some laboratory tests. He or she will examine you physically and prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medicines depending on your infection. Make sure to follow the dosage and timing of your medication. Also, your doctor might ask you to abstain from sexual contact while you still have the infection. Follow his directions carefully for a faster recovery.

Indeed, we cannot avoid infections if we are not cautious and careful. But if we practice safe sex, good hygiene, and fight addiction, we have a higher chance of preventing sexually transmitted infections.