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Preventing STDs

STD are among the most common infectious diseases in the world. They affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. Sex is the primary requirement and anyone who has sex is potentially at risk of developing STD. However, STD can largely be prevented and we will learn how in this chapter. Prevention is important for secveral reasons:-

1.  Apart from causing physical discomfort, STD can also cause great emotional and social disruption. STD can cause severe anxiety, depression and guilt; they may disrupt work, relationships, friendships and even marriages.

2.  Some STD are incurabkle (genital herpes and AIDS) or even fatal (AIDS). If prevention is worht a pound of cure; where there is no cure, prevention becomes invaluable.

3.  STD can cause serious complications. Some STD can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - a major cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancy may cause the narrow Fallopian tube to rupture, leading to severe and life-threatening internal haemorrhage (bleeding) in the mother and the death of the unborn child. Complications are more common in women because they are likely to be asymptomatic. Some STD can also cause sterility in men if they severely damage and scar the epididymes (storehouse for sperm).

4.  Some STD are associated with cancers. Genital warts have been linked with causing cancer of the cervix and chronic Hepatitis B virus infection with cancer of the liver.

5.  A pregnant mother can transmit infection to her child before or during delivery. Some STD, can in this way, cause permanent disability or even dath of the infant.

Unlike other infectious diseases such as measles and chickenpox, natural immunity does not develop after an attack of STD, with the sole exception of Hepatitis B. This means that a person can contact STD such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydial infection again and again after he has been cured.

Things would be a lot easier if medical prevention in the form of vaccine is available but unfortunately, except for Hepatitis B, none currently exists for STD. Work on vaccines for the other STD has been going on for many years but so far there has not been a breakthrough. The only prevention available against STD presently, is personal prevention. This means encouraging people to adopt health conscious sexual behavious. Unfortunately, changing any behaviour, especially sexual behaviour is difficult. This is why STD will continue to plaque mankind, probably, forever.

STD are by definition, sexually transmitted and you can avoid infection by taking precautions when you have sex. There are different ways that a person can reduce the risk of acquiring an STD:-

Sexual abstinence - this is the 100% safe way but it may not be acceptable to everyone.

Mutual monogamy - this means that both partners are completekly faithful. You cannot contract STD unless your partner happened to be infected before the relationship. In other words you should choose your sexual partner carefully and remain faithful thereafter. Mutual monogamy allows a couple to enjoy sex fully, unhindered by the constraints of safer sex.

Safer sex - this means not allowing blood, body fluids such as semen, vagina/cervical secretions and wastes (urine and faeces) into the body. Safer sex should be practiced whenever you are unsure bout your sexual paertner. The following are methods of safer sex:

  • Dry kissing (social kiss)
     
  • Masturbation
     
  • Body to body rubbing
     
  • Sex with condoms
  • Avoid oral sex
  • Avoid fisting (the use of fingers or fist)