By Jessica Hall
Let’s talk about sex, baby. Actually, let’s talk about safe sex. Young adults (15 to 24 year olds) are only one quarter of the sexually active population, but they account for nearly half of the 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year.
Why are so many of our peers contracting STDs? The answer, unprotected sex. Sure, it can be tempting to forgo a condom with oral sex “just one time” or to go home with that hottie you met at the bar, but throwing caution to the wind one night, can lead to a life sentence – or worse yet a death sentence – with an STD.
While many STDs can either be treated or cured if caught early, about half of all new diagnoses each year are incurable. Know what that means? Your one frivolous night will still haunt you when your grandkids are getting hot and heavy with the local hottie.
Unprotected sex isn’t the only explanation for how common STDs are among 15 to 24 year olds. Simply being, sexually active leads to higher rates of STDs. Abstinence is the only guaranteed, fool-proof way to avoid contracting most STDs.
STDs are transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse. Genital herpes and genital warts (HPV) can spread through skin contact, while hepatitis B can also be passed on through sharing of personal items, such as razors, with an infected individual.
So ladies, make your man wear a condom every time – even for oral. Guys and girls, be monogamous and forgo the one night stand – you don’t know where they’ve been or if they’re telling you the truth when they claim to be disease free. The only way to know for sure is for your partner to get tested.
STDs are among the most contagious illnesses and can be bacterial, viral or parasitic. Even if you’re able to manage your symptoms with medication, STDs can still weaken your immune system, leave you infertile and cause birth defects in your children. The STDs that can lead to death are AIDS and hepatitis B for example.
Get tested for STDs regularly if you’re sexually active, as symptoms may not appear until you already have a serious complication. Call your doctor immediately and abstain from sex until your doctor says it’s OK if you experience:
- Unusual, bloody or odorous discharge
- Genital or anal itching and irritation
- Rash, blisters, sores, lumps, or warts near your genitals, anus, or mouth
- Burning sensation or painful urination
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding other than your monthly period
- Pain, swelling, or redness of the testicles or vagina
- Flu-like symptoms, weight loss, jaundice, loose stool or night sweats
- Painful sex
Avoid getting an STD by practicing safe sex.
- Use a condom every time, the entire time, you have vaginal, anal, or even oral sex.
- Wash yourself before and after sex
- Get a vaccination for hepatitis B
- Ladies – talk to your doctor about Gardasil, a vaccine for certain types of HPV which can cause cervical cancer
- Have new sexual partners get tested before engaging in any sexual act with them
- Have sex with one partner
- If your partner has an STD, see your doctor even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms.
For more information about STDs and safe sex, visitwww.plannedparenthood.org,www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/health-sex-std-overview orwww.teenwire.com.