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STIs and Sexual Health

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are just as they sound: diseases and infections that are most often spread through sexual contact. STIs are very common and are nothing to be ashamed of, but they can be uncomfortable and have chronic impacts if they are not cared for or treated properly. Some STIs can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Knowing the signs, treatment, and prevention strategies can help you stay safe and healthy. 

Common STIs and Their Treatments

According to StatPearls and the CDC, this is a list of the most common and worrisome STIs. 

Chlamydia. This is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Symptoms vary, but generally, women will be asymptomatic. Some women will have pelvic pain, frequent urination, dysuria (painful urination or burning in the urethra), fatigue, and vomiting. Men will experience symptoms such as dysuria, testicular pain, rectal pain, and prostate pain. 

A doctor must diagnose chlamydia, and, as many people can carry chlamydia, it is very important to get tested regularly to not spread it. Chlamydia can be medically treated and eradicated with the help and guidance of a doctor. 

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a common and potentially deadly disease that can only be passed through bodily fluids such as blood and sexual fluids. Primary HIV symptoms are described as flu-like and can last 4-10 weeks, though some may be asymptomatic until their condition unknowingly worsens. 

AIDs is the late stage of HIV and is deadly to humans. It is important to get regularly tested for HIV in order to catch and treat it early. Treatment begins with establishing viral load, then beginning highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is the second-most common sexually transmitted infection. Gonorrhea will inflame the affected area and spread to other parts of the body. This may manifest as pelvic pain, vaginal pain/bleeding, testicular pain, rectal and prostate pain, painful urination, discharge, and sores. It is important to get regularly tested and visit the doctor if you suspect you have gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can be medically treated and eradicated, though follow-ups with the doctor will be important as well.

Genital Herpes. Genital herpes comes in two forms, type one (HSV-1) and two (HSV-2). Type one is most commonly associated with the mouth causing cold sores or warts but is beginning to be more common as a genital virus as well. Type two is most commonly a genital infection causing sores and warts to appear on the genitals. 

Herpes virus generally stays in the affected area and can be very painful during flare-ups. People can still be contagious during dormant periods. Genital herpes can be treated through monitoring and medication. Consistent checkups with your doctor will be required, as genital herpes lasts in the body forever and can still be transmitted if one is not careful. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV will produce genital blemishes that are described as “cauliflower-like growths” and can be confused with genital herpes. There is a vaccine for HPV that most teens are recommended to get to avoid certain cancers brought on by HPV and the virus itself. HPV is treated through medication and wart removal but will remain in the body for life. Regular checkups to screen for cancers and maintain blemishes are important for general health and to reduce spread when sexually active. 

Syphilis. Syphilis begins with small sores in the genital and mouth areas that are painless and spread through the body. As syphilis remains in the body untreated, it will worsen into one of the three stages, known as primary, secondary, and tertiary. 

Primary consists of sores in the region of infection (most commonly the genitals). Secondary consists of wart-like lesions that will spread through the body. Tertiary consists of sores, lesions, flu-like symptoms, neurological damage, changes in the brain, stroke-like symptoms, and cardiovascular changes. Syphilis is deadly if left untreated. Treatment of syphilis depends on the stage. The primary stage is easier to treat, as it involves less intensive treatment. Consult a doctor for treatment for syphilis. 

Common Sexual Health Practices

Though there are other sexually transmitted infections, knowing the most common few can help you prevent spreading STIs. Here are some other common tips for sexual health:

  • Utilize a condom when engaging in sexual activities, whether oral or genital, to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy
  • Communicate with your partner about STIs (yes, ask the question) before intercourse.
  • If you feel unsafe or pressured, you do not need to have sex. Exit the situation or call for help. 
  • Communicate with your partner about expectations and forms of birth control to prevent any unwanted pregnancy. 

Sexual health is important and can be an unfortunate afterthought for many. Safe sexual practices and consistent communication make for better sexual experiences. Unwanted sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy can be stressful, highly problematic, and even deadly for some STIs. For those who have struggled with addiction and had scary or problematic sexual experiences, there is help, and STIs can be treated. If you’re struggling with your sexual health, substance addiction, or even sex and porn addiction, call us at RECO Intensive. We understand the importance of sexual health. When treating addiction, we know that sexual history can come up as past trauma or current health problem. We also know that sex addiction can be seriously detrimental to one’s life. Let our professional staff and experienced alumni create a treatment plan that is specifically catered to you. Call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future. 

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