When one gets the flu, they feel gross and uncomfortable, but others understand it. When one gets an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), they're stigmatized as a slut or man-whore, AND they feel uncomfortable, AND they have to tell others about it. Imagine that.
Here are the abbreviations explained so you don't get tripped up on the letters:
So let's hop into the Ms. Frizzle's bus and jump inside a human to learn about STIs, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. On second thought...
What is well-known:
Chlamydia: This is a type of infection that both men and women get. It's more common than gonorrhea and syphilis and the symptoms are barely noticeable, if there are any symptoms at all and the infection may start within 5-10 days. It is passed via sexual contact with the vagina and/or anus and is commonly found in both genders under the age of 25. It infects the genitals, anus, urethra, eyes, and throat.
Women who have chlamydia or symptoms of chlamydia might experience abdominal pain, abnormal discharge from the vagina, slight fever bleeding after sex, swelling around vagina or anus, need to pee more often than normal, smelly yellow discharge from the vagina.
Men who experience chlamydia symptoms may have swollen testicles, and milky or watery discharge from the penis.
Both genders may have pain during peeing, swelling around the anus, painful intercourse, itchy anus, red eyes/discharge from the eyes, sore throat.
Depending on how badly one has it, the symptoms will be mild and occur in the morning, Most people write it off as a common sickness. But it can turn into something very serious if it isn't checked out, so make sure to see your doctor or health center if you have concerns.
Chlamydia can cause
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
- Infertility (make a woman unable to produce babies).
- Epididymitis (swelling or pain of the epididymis, the coiled tube behind the testicles that collects sperm).
- Reactive arthritis
It's seriously important to get yourself tested after sex, especially if you're unsure of your sexual partner's history.
Thankfully, chlamydia can be treated and it's easy to do so! You'll need to take antibiotics and visit your health center or doctor to see what the next steps are. It could take a couple of weeks or months. Be sure to refrain from sexual activities until you're fully treated. The infection is still in your body, even after you take antibiotics the first few weeks, the symptoms just dissipate. Try talking to your sexual partner(s) about getting themselves treated as well to avoid spreading the infection on to others. Also be sure to clean your toys and other objects regularly (most can be boiled!) and don't share your meds with anyone. Remember to get tested again after a few months to make sure the infection isn't hanging around.
If you're worried about getting chlamydia, use protection as much as possible! Dental dams and condoms can save you a trip to the doctor and some embarrassing phone calls.
- Feeling tired
- Not feeling hungry
- Stomach pain/feeling sick
- Achy muscles
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
- Skin rash
Hep C: Probably on the more intense side of the viral hepatitis spectrum, this causes liver damage, liver cancer, and liver failure. Most don't know that they have it until the liver failure sets in. However, those who are able to live with it and manage it tend to live healthy and active lives. Most people who already have Hep C contract chronic Hep C over time. The virus is spread via contact with blood, so no worries about sharing toilets or giving hugs. However, you can get Hep C if you...
What is lesser-known:
Bacterial vaginosis (BV): Technically, BV is an STI because it's a vaginal infection. The infection is caused when there's too much of one type of bacteria in the vagina, upsetting the balance of good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria keeps the bad bacteria under control. It isn't a huge problem and can go away in a couple of days with the right treatment. But if it doesn't, you should consult your gynecologist or primary care doctor because it can turn into something more serious.
Who gets BV? - Any woman can get BV, though it's typically found in women ages 15-44, especially those who are sexually active. However, experts believe that you can't get it via another person (or sharing toilet seats). Women who are pregnant and have BV may increase a risk of a miscarriage, low birth weight, an early delivery, or a uterine infection after you give birth. Depending on the way you deliver your baby, there may be a larger risk of a pelvic infection. However, antibiotics can help to fix these problems.
While the cause of BV is unknown, we do know how it spreads. Having multiple sex partners and douching often can mess up the balance of the bacteria and put the woman at risk for getting BV.
Your chances of getting BV are heightened if you smoke, douche, have more than one sexual partner. You can lower your risk if you don't douche or smoke.
Symptoms include a "fishy" smell, which may increase after sex, and a gray-ish or yellow-colored discharge. Because there are many STI's and STDs that cause discharge, I'd suggest going to the doctor or gynecologist to check and get the right treatment for your infection. This means that your doctor will want to take a sample and do a pelvic exam.