32-year old Christine Richardson went to see her OB-GYN when she noticed a strange vaginal discharge for the last few days. She got the shock of her life when the doctor disclosed that the foul-smelling discharge was actually caused by trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease. Christine was in a monogamous relationship and was somehow puzzled how she got into such a situation.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. STDs or sexually transmitted diseases have silently affected many people without them even knowing it. STD risks are more than just the 35 known transferable organisms that are spread mainly through sexual activity.

Common Factors that Cause the Prevalence of STDs:

Biological Components

You can acquire STDs when your partner is infected and has unprotected sex with you. Since more STDs remain asymptomatic in nature, you can actually be infected without knowing it. When it comes to gender difference, women are more prone to suffer from the consequences of the diseases than men. Complications include infertility, inflamed pelvis, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.

Social Factors

The spread of STDs can be partly blamed to stigma. Despite the need for awareness, if you are not comfortable talking about the intimate side of your relationship with your partner, it is difficult to discuss STDs in general. Moreover, when you have multiple sexual partners, you are at a higher risk. Avoiding to talk about this topic with sexual partners can also escalate the problem.

Economic Factors

You can actually associate more STD cases with limited health care access and the continued existence of poverty. More people in marginalized communities are affected by STDs because of the lack of awareness to practice safe sex. In lower social clusters where sexual behavior is high risk, access to healthcare is often compromised. Since medical treatment is also costly, access can be very limited.

Although it is common knowledge that STDs can be transmitted via sexual intercourse, you should keep in mind that it is not limited there. The spread of STDs can also be accounted for in other ways because they are bacterial or viral in nature. Furthermore, acquiring multiple STDs simultaneously is also a possibility.

Several Ways of Transmitting STDs:

Sexual Activity

You can get infected with an STD by engaging in vaginal intercourse as well as anal or oral sex. Some common types of sexually transmitted diseases include:

– Syphilis
– Chlamydia
– Trichomoniasis
– HPV
– Gonorrhea
– Genital herpes
– Hepatitis B and C
– HIV

When bodily fluids are exchanged between sexual partners, your exposure to bacteria and viruses becomes critical.

Contact with Infected Blood

You can become vulnerable to STDs when you are injected with needles that have been used by an infected person. Blood is another medium in which the spread of bacteria and viruses from a host body becomes transferable to another person. When a blood transfusion is necessary for patients, health care providers must make sure that the blood donor does not have any STDs in any form.

Skin Contact

You might think it is outrageous that STDs can be transmitted through skin contact but in cases of herpes and HPV, the spread is totally possible. Chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea can also infect you if you touch a body part of an infected person with traces of the disease. You must also be wary that belongings such as clothes, towels, bed sheets, and blankets can be hosts to pubic lice and the protozoans in trichomoniasis.

Many people want to know how to lessen the spread of STDs if elimination is still far from possible. The dissemination of information is vital for spreading awareness of STD risks in public. Health officials, policymakers, health workers, and other non-government organizations that dedicate programs towards the prevention of STDs have come up with several means to make the message clear.

Some Tips to Prevent STDs

Stick to Monogamous Relationships

When you have multiple sex partners, the risk of getting infected is exponentially high. On the other hand, if you and your partner pledge to stick to mutual monogamy, there is no risk at all. The exposure becomes limited because body fluids become exclusive to you and your partner only.

Avoid Alcohol and Drug Use

Alcohol and drugs can be the mastermind behind the spread of STDs. When alcohol has an effect on you and clouds your judgment, unprotected sex can take place. In the case of using certain types of recreational drugs, blood exchange can happen when you use injections that are used by infected people.

Get Yourself Tested

Most STDs are silent. The best way to know if you have an STD is to get yourself tested. The same goes for your sexual partner. Never be afraid to ask about someone’s sexual history and ask that person to get tested to avoid getting yourself into trouble.

STDs remain a critical public health concern all over the US but often fails to get the attention of healthcare professionals and policymakers. These diseases pose complications and high costs despite the fact that they are preventable. If not diagnosed earlier, STD risks can cause damaging, permanent, and potentially create expensive health problems.