It can’t happen to me.
Getting infected with a sexually transmitted disease can happen to anyone who is sexually active. One out of four Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 will acquire at least one STD. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), affecting more than 4 million Americans each year.
In fact, according to a report in USA Today, sexual activity is responsible for four of the five most commonly reported infectious diseases: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, AIDS, and syphilis.
I can’t be infected because I have only had one sex partner.
You do not have to have multiple sex partners to become infected. If you have been sexually active even once you could be infected. Of course, your risk increases if you have more than one sex partner.
I can’t be infected if I don’t feel any different.
Many people do not have symptoms when they have infections. In fact, they may look and feel perfectly fine. That’s why it’s important to be screened for STDs. Ideally, both partners should be screened prior to entering into a sexual relationship.
I can’t get infected if my partner wears a condom.
Practicing safe sex and using a condom when you have sex will significantly reduce the chances of you becoming infected or unknowingly passing on an infection to your partner. However, while condoms help to prevent HIV, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, they are less helpful in preventing HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), the virus which causes cervical cancer, as well as being less helpful in preventing Herpes.
I’m not too worried because even if I do get an STD
they can cure it with medicine.
Most, but not all, sexually transmitted diseases are curable if they are diagnosed and treated. Herpes is NOT curable. HIV is not curable. Most sexually transmitted diseases can lead to further problems if they go undetected and untreated. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are the most common, usually are asymptomatic and may cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and infertility. Trichomoniasis can also cause PID. HPV left untreated can cause cervical cancer. Syphilis left untreated can cause permanent neurological damage. A number of STDs can cause problems in the newborn if you are pregnant. Remember, getting treated and curing the infection does not protect you from getting infected again.
Kim Benton, MSN, CRNP