Oh You Have Strep Throat? I Have Chlamydia

11 Oct

Let’s face it, being sick is never fun. You feel gross and you can’t go out with your friends because you might pass on your illness to them. This is the same whether you have strep throat or a sexually transmitted infection, or STI.

Both Strep throat and chlamydia are caused by bacteria, the Streptococcus bacteria and the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis respectively. One is acceptable in society to say you have and the other is shamed and shunned because it is transmitted sexually. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that you need to be responsible for, especially if you intend to play with others.

This article is going to give you a quick overview of what you can get and how they can be treated.

Chlamydia

According to the CDC, Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STI in the US. As I said earlier, it is a bacteria that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It is curable with antibiotics. Reduce your risk to exposure by using male latex condoms.         

Gonorrhea

Ah, the Clap. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. About 600,000 men and women each year in the US are affected says the CDC. It is also transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex. It is curable with antibiotics and to help reduce your risk, use a female or male latex condoms during vaginal or anal intercourse. While transmission through oral sex is rare, it is still beneficial to use some form of a barrier.

Hepatitis B

          Hepatitis is a virus and while it is a liver infection, three types of Hepatitis can be spread sexually; Hepatitis B is the most common. Usually we are inoculated with the Hepatitis B vaccine as a requirement to attend school. It is quite contagious and can be passed through semen, vaginal fluids, blood and urine. Protect yourself by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already and use a male or female condom during intercourse.

Herpes

          Herpes is a very common infection in the US. The most common form is oral herpes followed by genital herpes, more commonly known as just herpes. The symptoms may come and go, but you will always be a carrier of the virus. It can be acquired through common activities like touching and kissing but it can also be transmitted sexually via vaginal, anal, and oral sex. And, even if the partner has no symptoms! Herpes is especially contagious when there are open sores present. To protect yourself from getting herpes, use a condom to limit your risk for exposure. If you have active sores, planned parenthood recommends to abstain from any sexual contact until seven days after the sores heal because the virus can be spread to areas that are not protected by a condom. While there is no cure, you can help lessen your outbreak time and there are also medications to help reduce the number of outbreaks.

HIV & AIDS

          HIV is the abbreviation for the human immunodeficiency virus. It is this virus that causes people to get AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The virus can be passed through blood, semen, including pre-ejaculate, breast milk, vaginal fluid, and contaminated needles. Avoid using contaminated needles and do not engage in intercourse without a condom. Transmission through oral sex is debated because an open wound or sore is needed to come in contact with infected fluid. So unless you have a mouth wound or dental work recently, technically you are less likely to contract it, but, the transmission risk is still there. There is no cure for AIDS yet, but it is not a death sentence like it used to be. With medication, people can still live out full lives while managing their symptoms.

HPV

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. The CDC tells us that there are 40 types of HPV that can infect genital areas including the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, or scrotum. Some forms of HPV cause genital warts which are very contagious in their own right. HPV has also been known to cause cervical cancer, but by getting vaccinated against the virus, you can reduce your risk. It is transmitted through skin to skin contact so use a condom or a barrier like a dental dam to avoid exposure during oral sex and intercourse.      

Pubic Lice

          The species of louse that can inhabit the pubic region is Phthirus pubis, more commonly known as crabs. The lice can be spread from sharing towels with someone infected or coming into contact with their skin. They can be rid of by using medication that is usually in the form of a shampoo. Multiple applications may be necessary. And contrary to popular belief, shaving will not rid you of a crab infestation.

Syphilis

The bacterium responsible for this STI is Treponema pallidum. It is transmitted when there is direct contact to a syphilis sore and can infect the external genetalia, anus, rectum, even your lips and in your mouth! If caught early enough, within the first year, syphilis can be cured with a single dose of penicillin. Protect yourself with the use of a female or male latex condom.

Planned Parenthood and the health department offer free STI/HIV testing. Check in your town to find out where they are and get tested. It’s painless and it’s great to know, especially when you’re having the talk with a new play partner. For those of you who think that having that talk is a mood killer, imagine how bummed out you’d feel if you actually got something.

Be proactive, not reactive. And if prescribed antibiotics, ALWAYS remember to take your prescription all the way through! Don’t stop half way because you are starting to feel better, you don’t want to build up a resistancy to the medication and have something like antibiotic resistant gonorrhea!

This wasn’t written to spread doom and gloom. It was written to make everyone more aware of what can happen to you and how to be responsible for your sexuality. Be safe, be smart, have fun, and remember to always talk before engaging sexually with a new partner. Ask when the last time they were tested and if they had anything, ask if it has been resolved.

Many thanks to the CDC and Planned Parenthood for their facts. They are great resources to learn more about a specific STI, but in no way should be used in lieu of seeing a doctor! Happy safer sex! And as always, everything is OK here.

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