World Sexual Health Day 2022
World Sexual Health Day is observed on September 4 every year since 2010. The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) organizes this event every year to promote and raise awareness about the best practices in sexual health.
What Is Sexual Health?
According to the World Health Organization, "Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being associated to sexuality; and is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity."
On World Sexual Health Day 2022, let's discuss commonly occurring sexually transmitted diseases and ways to practice safe sex.
What Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) pass from one person to another through sexual contact. Vaginal, oral, and anal sex are usually the types of sexual contact responsible for the transmission of infections. Sometimes STDs can transmit through skin-to-skin contact, from mother to baby, while breastfeeding, or during pregnancy. STDs are also called Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
- About 30 different types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites are known to spread through sexual contact.
- Eight pathogens are associated with the highest incidences of STDs.
- Four sexually transmitted diseases are curable, namely syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.
- Other four of these sexually transmitted diseases, namely hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and human immune deficiency virus (HIV), are incurable.
The 8 Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs):
Chlamydia is a type of STD caused by bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. The infections spread through unprotected sexual contact (vaginal, oral, and anal), from the vaginal fluid or semen of an infected person, by touching the genitals of an infected person and from mother to unborn baby. There are no prominent symptoms of chlamydia in its initial stages; hence, it is mostly passed unknowingly and this infection can be cured.
It is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can infect men and women and is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person (vaginal, oral, and anal). It can also pass from infected mothers to the baby. The body sites affected by this infection include the urethra, eyes, throat, anus, vagina, cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Gonorrhea is a curable infection.
It is a sexually transmitted infection caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. Syphilis spreads through sexual contact with an infected person, a mother to an unborn child, and even through direct contact with the sores that develop on the infected person's body. There are four stages of this infection, primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary from one stage to another. Syphilis is curable when detected and treated in its early stages. However, though it is curable in its later stages, the damage caused by it cannot be reversed.
It is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It occurs commonly in women when compared to men. Most commonly, people with Trichomoniasis have no symptoms and transmit it unknowingly. This infection increases a person's risk of developing other STDs. It is curable with proper treatment.
5. Hepatitis B:
It is a type of viral infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is an infection that causes severe infection in the liver and increases the chances of developing liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, or liver failure in an infected person. The virus causing Hepatitis B spreads through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, blood, semen, saliva, and vaginal fluids, sharing needles infected with the blood, and from mother to child. There is no cure for Hepatitis B. However, vaccination for this virus can prevent its infection.
It is an infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It spreads through contact with the body fluids of an infected person while having unprotected sex or by sharing infected blades or needles, infected blood transfusion, and mother-to-child during pregnancy or breastfeeding. HIV attacks the immune system and weakens it with time, making the infected person vulnerable to other infections like tuberculosis, fungal and bacterial infections, and certain cancers. HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a commonly occurring STD. It usually transmits through unprotected sex with an infected person, skin-to-skin contact while having sex, and is highly contagious. It can also transmit from an infected mother to a child. Certain types of HPV can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer, anal cancer, head and neck cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, and vulvar cancer. There is no cure for HPV but can be prevented by the HPV vaccine.
8. Herpes simplex virus (HSV):
It is an infection that causes oral and genital herpes. It has two strains, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The HSV-2 strain spreads via sexual contact and causes genital herpes. It also spreads through the sores and fluids of an infected person. This virus can also transmit from mother to child.
Tips To Prevent STDs
- Condoms are the most effective methods of preventing and protecting from STDs. However, condoms cannot prevent and protect from infections causing extra genital ulcers.
- Vaccination against Hepatitis B (HBV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is safe and effective.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
This World Sexual Health Day 2022, raise awareness about healthy sexual practices and the various diseases that transmit sexually among your kith and kin. Spread the word about the following tips to be followed to prevent and protect against STDs.
- Use condoms and dental dams each time you have sex.
- Before starting a sexual relationship with a partner, discuss their history of STDs and drug use.
- Get tested regularly for STDs. PAP tests, pelvic examinations, etc., can detect infections as early as possible.
- Check you and your partner's body for signs of discharge, sores, rashes, and blisters.
- Educate your partner and yourself about various STDs and their symptoms.
- Avoid having sex with multiple partners.
- If you are pregnant and at risk of STD, then consult your doctor immediately.
- Get your partner, and yourself vaccinated for Hepatitis B and HPV.