Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a real threat to your health. They can have far-reaching consequences. The good news is that they are quite easy to prevent. Here is all the information that you need to know.
What Are STDs?
STDs are diseases that spread through sexual contact. Vaginal sexual intercourse is not the only way in which you can contract an STD. You can get one through oral sex and anal sex too. STDs include diseases like HIV/AIDS, as well as chlamydia, herpes, syphilis etc.
Who is at Risk?
Young people are at an especially high risk. The number of sexually transmitted infections in Gauteng increased by half a million among young people between 2015 – 2017. This, according to a recent report by News24.
But why are young people at risk? The main reason is that you are more likely to experiment in your youth. Young people may be less discerning of the partners that they choose. Mind-altering substances that affect decision-making, such as drugs and alcohol, may be involved. Another reason why you might be at a higher risk of contracting an STD is if you have sex with more than one partner. Or having sex with someone who has had many sexual partners in the past. Or not using a condom when being intimate.
How Can I Prevent Myself from Getting an STD?
The best way in which to prevent getting an STD is to abstain from sexual activity. Wait until you are in an exclusive relationship and are both clear of any diseases. But even if you do not do this, you can still reduce your risk of catching an STD. Always, ALWAYS use a condom when having sex – and this includes when engaging in oral and anal sex.
How Do I Know if I Have an STD?
Each STD will present with different symptoms. It’s recommended that you get tested for STDs every year, especially HIV/AIDS. You can get these tests done at most clinics and hospitals. HIV/AIDS tests can also be performed at various DisChem and Clicks pharmacies. You can even order an at-home testing kit for yourself online. They are usually available for under R200 and are very easy to use.
The key to protecting yourself is always practising safe sex. Be brave and make yourself heard. If a sexual partner is unwilling or reluctant to use protection, it’s better to walk away. Don’t put your health at risk.
If you have questions or concerns, be sure to contact the Love Life Sexual Health Line on 0800 121 900.