We always talk about unplanned pregnancy but let’s not forget about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs are quite common and not restricted to infecting a certain ‘type’ despite the stigma they may carry.
There are 3 main types of SITs
These are caused by bacteria and can be usually cured with antibiotics quite easily.
- Genital Herpes
- Genital warts
- Hepatitis B
Viral STIs are caused by viral infections with symptoms that are treatable. Some viruses eventually leave the body while others stay in the body for life like HIV.
- Public Lice
Parasitic infections are caused by parasite and can be treated with creams/lotions.
STIs can be transmitted in so many ways including:
- Oral sex
- Vaginal sex
- Anal sex
- Mutual Masturbation
- Sharing sex toys
The 4 most common STIs in Australia are:
Chlamydia is the most common STI that often comes with silent symptoms.Chlamydia can lead to can lead to serious consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), tubal factor infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.
Gonorrhoea is a common STI with inflammatory discharge from the urethra or vagina that often appears like common vaginal yeast or bacterial infections. Can lead to serious consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), scarring of th fallopian tubes, infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
There are 2 types.
- Cold sores that are spread through kissing, sharing drinks and other oral contact
- Genital sores that are spread through sexual contact
The herpes virus can cause meningitis while exposed blisters can increase the risk of acquiring HIV.
- HPV (human papillomavirus):
HPV is an STI with few symptoms but is the cause of serious cancers and genital warts.
HPV is responsible for:
- almost all cases of genital warts and cervical cancer
- 90% of anal cancers
- 65% of vaginal cancers
- 50% of vulva cancers
- 35% of penile cancers
- 60% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
The HPV vaccine can protect you against the two high-risk HPV types, which cause 70% of cervical cancers in women.
To prevent STIs, talk to your doctor about safe sex and either use male condoms, female condoms or a dam with a water-based lubricant for barrier protection.
Remember to talk to you doctor about STI testing if you are:
- possibly suffering STI symptoms
- have had unsafe sex including the condom falling off
- your partner has another sexual partner
- you have more than 1 sexual partner
- you have recently got a new sexual partner
- you have shared needles