A Sexually Transitted Disease or STD (also known as a Sexually Transmitted Infection or STI) is a disease or infection that is passed on through sexual contact.
The types of sexual activity that can transmit a disease are -
- penetrative sex (vagial, anal or oral)
- genital foreplay.
Some diseases are transmitted through -
- skin to skin contact
- fluids such as sperm, blood or saliva
- some are passed from mother to baby.
The only way to avoid STD's absolutely is to avoid sex altogether.
The chances of catching an STD is also reduced if both partners who are uninfected in a longer term relationship practise mongamy (that is only having sex with each other).
Just meeting someone and deciding to be monogamous with that person doesn't count. You would need to get tested to make sure you are both STD free and it takes time to get the results back. Any new relationship should be using condoms.
The best way to reduce your chance of getting an STD if you have multiple partners or serial partners (one steady partner after another) is to use barrier protection - either a male or female condom every time you have sex.
Talk to your prospective partner about safe sex practises - if they won't talk about it or don't want to use a condom then seriously address whther you want to be in an intimate relationship with someone who cares so little for their own or your wellbeing.
Women are in greater danger of the effects of STD's. Some STD's pass more commonly from the male to the female eg AIDS. Some STD's can cause fertility problems like increased difficulty falling pregnant, fallopian tube blockages, ectopic pregnancies and some can cause cervical cancer. Women can also pass diseases onto their babies.
It is always a bad idea to have unprotected casual sex - the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease increases with every instance of unprotected sex. You may not be able to tell if your partner has a disease. Even if you use another form of contraception eg Pill, to cover yourself against unwanted pregnancy - the Pill or diaphram or IUD will not protect you from an unwanted STD.
There are many STD's around so don't think it can't happen to you - if you are having unprotected sex it is only a matter of time before you catch one
Some useful links
Written by Nadia MacLeod