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What are sexually transmitted diseases?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that can spread from one person to another by sexual contact. STDs can cause pain, and some can cause infertility and even death if not treated. Some common curable STDs are gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, chlamydial infection, syphilis and HIV/AIDS.

How can sexually transmitted diseases be contracted?

By definition STD’s are diseases contracted during sexual contact but the important thing to keep in mind is that as far sexual contacts, as far as STDs are concerned includes, more than just sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal). Kissing, oral-genital contact and the use of sexual "toys," such as vibrators too can cause STDs.

What can be done to prevent STDs?

People can avoid STDs by changing their sexual behaviour. They can follow any of the ABCs:

A.  Abstain from sex:  This is the only guaranteed protection.

B.  Be mutually faithful: Always have sex with the same person. This person must not have sex with any other person and must not have a STD.

Important: You cannot usually tell whether a person has a STD. Just by looking at him or her. People with STDs, including HIV, usually do not look sick.

C. Consistently use condoms:  Use them every time and use them correctly. To prevent STDs, people at risk should use condoms even when they use another family planning method. If a woman’s sex partner is not willing to use to use condoms, she should try to use spermicide. It is important to note that spermicides do not stop HIV/AIDS. The diaphragm and cervical cap may also help prevent some STDs. 

Are all STD’s treatable?

Most STDs are treatable. However, even the once easily cured gonorrhea has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics. Other STDs, such as herpes, AIDS, and genital warts, all of which are caused by viruses, have no cure. Some of these infections are very uncomfortable, while others can be deadly.

Getting Treated

Many STDs can be treated and cured, especially in their early stages. Some, such as HIV and herpes, cannot be cured, but sometimes their effects can be stopped for a time.
Prevention is better than cure. Especially since, sometimes scarring or infertility can follow.

A person who thinks he or she may have STD should:

  • Get diagnosed and treated immediately.

  • Take all of the medicine according to instructions, even if the symptoms go away. The medicines can cause some side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. If any of these side effects occurs and is severe, the person must return to the clinic that provided the medicine. All of the medicine must be taken for a lasting cure.

  • Avoid sex with anyone until three days after the treatment is finished and all symptoms are gone.

  • Tell his or her sex partner or partners so that they get treated too. Unless all sex partners are treated at the same time, they may infect each other again and again. It is especially important for a man to tell a woman. This is because many women do not have symptoms until the STD has reached a more serious stage.

If friends have symptoms, urge them to seek care. Urge them use condoms and/or spermicide and to see a doctor for a check up. There really is no such thing as "safe" sex. The only truly safe sex is abstinence. Sex in the context of a monogamous relationship wherein neither party is infected with a STD is also considered "safe". Most people think that kissing is a safe activity. Unfortunately, syphilis, herpes, and other diseases can be contracted through this relatively simple and apparently harmless act. All other forms of sexual contact carry some risk. Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. Condoms are useful in preventing certain diseases, such as herpes and gonorrhea. However, they do not fully protect against other diseases such as genital warts, syphilis and AIDS.

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