Am I at Risk for Getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

Since the #1 post on this blog is “I Have Herpes!  What Do I Do Now?”  I believe talking about STI’s is important.  Hearing the words “You have cancer” is extremely devastating.  I think hearing the words “You have a sexually transmitted infection” is almost as devastating for most people.  Some STI’s can be cured, but some can not.  It causes a lot of psychological stress to find out you’ve become infected, not to mention physical pain for those experiencing symptoms.  No one expects it, but when it happens it can drop the world out from under your feet.

I don’t mean to rain on everyone’s parade.  Sex is supposed to be fun and exciting.  It is all that and more.   But it also needs to be as safe as possible because it isn’t so fun and exciting to tell your partner you’re infected with an STI.  The truth is millions of people in the United States are currently infected with an STI.  It happens!  And it can happen to you.  I’ve talked to many students that it has happened to, so I thought it would be a good idea to write some facts about STI’s to keep others from experiencing this type of pain.  I’ve taken some information from Planned Parenthood and condensed it down into some important facts you need to know.

One of the biggest misconceptions is someone who is a virgin believing they aren’t at risk for an STI.  FALSE!!  Not all sexually transmitted infections are transmitted the same way.  Read below to see what your risks are.

Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse-  HIGH RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 (oral herpes) & HSV 2 (genital herpes)
  • Human Papilloma Viruses- HPV (some cause genital warts, some cause cancer
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Hepatitis B Virus- HBV
  • Cytomegalovirus- CMV
  • Syphilis
  • Scabies
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus- HIV

Unprotected Oral Sex–  HIGH RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 & 2
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Syphilis

Sex play without sexual intercourse–  RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 & 2
  • Human Papilloma Virus- HPV
  • Cytomegalovirus- CMV
  • Scabies

Click to receive more information on the above listed STI’s

Safer sex is anything we do to lower our risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.  Three Steps to Safer Sex:

  1. Become honest with yourself about the risks you take.
  2. Decide which risks you are willing to take- and which ones you are NOT willing to take.
  3. Find ways to make your sex play as safe and satisfying as possible.

The most important ways to reduce your risk are:

  • Keep your partner’s body fluids out of your body- vagina, anus or mouth
  • Don’t touch sores or growths that are caused by sexually transmitted infections

The use of condoms, female condoms or dental dams are the most effective ways to protect yourself from your partner’s bodily fluids.  ALWAYS USE PROTECTION while engaging in sexual activity!

Be aware that some of the STI’s listed above can be transmitted by skin to skin contact and are not always transmitted by bodily fluid.  Herpes and HPV are the big ones.  This is why they are so common. They can also be transmitted even if you aren’t showing any symptoms or having a current break out.

A lot of STI’s don’t present any symptoms.  Especially in women.  You may not be aware that you are infected.  This is why so many people continue to become infected.  It isn’t because their partner lied to them.  It is because their partner did not know they were infected.

The only way to know for sure if you are infected is to GET TESTED!!  You have to ask your doctor or the clinician for specific STI tests.  Don’t assume they will know which tests to give you or that they will automatically test you for everything.   They will not!  Let them know your concerns and ask for the specific tests you are worried about.  The results of those tests are the only way to know what you are dealing with.

This may sound cheesy, but here are ways to make sex safer…

  • if you decide to have sexual intercourse, using a latex or female condom makes it safer.
  • if you decide to have oral sex instead of unprotected vaginal or an intercourse, it is safer.
  • if you decide to have protected oral sex instead of unprotected oral sex, it is safer.
  • if you decide to rub against each other with your clothes off instead of having sex or oral sex, it is safer.
  • if you decide to give each other an erotic massage instead of rubbing against each other with your clothes off, it is safer.
  • if after you give each other a massage, you wash your hands before touching your face or genitals, it is even safer.
  • if you decide to masturbate alone or have cybersex or phone sex instead of physical contact with someone else, it is even safer.

Do what you feel comfortable with and be strong enough to communicate those feelings to your partner.  Be open, honest and smart to stay as safe as possible.  Oh and one more time…Don’t forget to USE PROTECTION and GET TESTED!!

I would love to hear what you think about this post or about my blog in general. Also, feel free to leave any suggestions or ideas for new posts in the future! Thanks!

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