Sexually transmitted diseases are spread through the exchange of bodily fluids.
This can include vaginal fluids, semen, pre-ejaculate, and blood. Before having unprotected sex, it’s a good idea to get blood tests for both yourself and your partner. Sexual contact should also be avoided if you or your new partner have any open wounds or are simply unsure of your own sexual health.
It is estimated that at least one million people contract a sexually transmitted disease every day.
These statistics are startling. Most recently, junior high and high school education as well as some specific college courses have begun making an effort to educate young people about the dangers of venereal disease. There have also been multi-million dollar ad campaigns to raise awareness, but all this education and information has been aimed squarely at people under the age of twenty-five who make up more than half of the people in the world who carry a sexually transmitted disease.
A group that is quickly catching up with people under 25 in regards to catching these diseases may surprise you: People over 60.
This is thanks to a number of things. For example, the fact that all this education tends not to be aimed at people past a certain age, so the only people who seem to get a free education about safe sex are those under the age of 25. Many older people see sexually transmitted disease as something that doesn’t affect them, and many of the old stereotypes about those in their 60s and older affect the way society treats the problem. The people making efforts to educate the world about AIDS, HIV, proper condom use and other concerns would seem to be falling for the classics, such as that anyone over 30 is only having sex with their wife or husband of several years, or is simply sexually inactive.
A more surprising source of this boom in STDs for older people is menopause. More specifically, the way certain women behave after going through menopause. Many women who have practiced safe sex all their lives to avoid pregnancy will opt to stop using condoms after menopause, assuming that since they can no longer have children, there’s no need to use contraceptives.
The widespread use of latex condoms was almost unheard of in some social circles until relatively recently. While the latex condom has existed since 1912, many people stuck with clunky, outdated methods until the last few decades. Some misconceptions still persist, however.
For the longest time, condoms were made from animal intestine. These were highly intellectual. Today, lambskin condoms are still being produced. The makers usually claim that these aid in sensitivity, but to be frank, a lambskin condom is about as effectual as wet tissue paper.
The first rubber condom, invented in 1844, was pretty unappealing, as well. Having been two millimeters thick, with stitches going down the side like a football, and being very expensive (though fortunately, it was reusable!).
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
Estimates as of the time of this writing have it that 0.6% of the entire world population is infected with HIV. HIV can nowadays be treated, to some extent, and likely won’t kill you unless it mutates into AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
AIDS has claimed more than 32 million human lives worldwide, with an estimated 36.7 million people living with the disease today. AIDS cripples the immune system to the extent that so much as a common cold can become a fatal disease. There is no way to tell if a person has HIV or AIDS just by looking at them or by asking them or even by looking at a list of their previous sexual partners. It’s never, ever a good idea to have unprotected sex with a new partner without being tested. Condoms can protect both partners to an extent, but even condoms cannot guarantee that the disease will not be passed from partner to partner.
Herpes simplex makes itself known in the form of painful and irritating sores on the genitals. Luckily, there are treatments on the market that help to limit outbreaks of these sores even once you’ve contracted the virus, but this shouldn’t be seen as a license to act irresponsibly. A common misconception is that a carrier of this virus has to be suffering an outbreak during the time intercourse takes place for the disease to spread. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s possible to catch herpes at any time. Luckily, contracting herpes is easily preventable by proper condom use. Besides the physical ailments, herpes has actually been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This can be a hard disease to diagnose as it might go without showing symptoms for as much as a year after contraction. In fact, it’s estimated that around half of the women who carry gonorrhea are completely asymptomatic, or sub clinical, in which case, the infection will only show itself in minor ways, such as difficulty urinating on occasion or minor vaginal discharge. In men, gonorrhea can cause swelling and pain in the testicles and prostate.
Some years ago, penicillin was a sort of miracle drug and it would cure most cases of gonorrhea in short time. However, people in many parts of the world have built up immunity to penicillin, and other antibiotics must be used. Exactly which antibiotic will have to be determined by a doctor, as exactly which antibiotic should be used depends on local information of resistance patterns.
Luckily, gonorrhea is also preventable by proper condom use, but in the event of contraction, some strains have proven strongly resistant to drugs.