The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that nearly 20 million people are infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) annually. The effects of STDs also referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs, can range in severity from burning and itching, genital warts, to infertility and even death. Now more than ever, it is important to know your risk and protect yourself from unwanted infections. How can you be sure you won’t contract an STD, and what are the real risks of getting infected? Keep reading and we’ll answer some of your most pressing questions.
Are You Putting Yourself at Risk?
Your odds of contracting an STD are depending on many factors such as:
- Your number of sexual partners
- What type of sex you have most often (manual, vaginal, oral, anal)
- Whether you practice safe sex
- Whether you use condoms or barriers for oral as well as penetrative sex
- If your partner has an STD and what type it is
- Your immune system
- Whether you have cuts, breaks, or wounds in the area being penetrated
- Whether you have another STD
- Your overall health
While your number of sexual partners you have had may increase or decrease your risk of acquiring an STD, you can still get one if you have only had one sexual partner. Your risk, of course, increases dramatically if you are having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Protecting yourself is so important in ensuring your long-term health.
Why is Determining Risk Difficult?
There have been numerous studies on how likely one is to transmit the HIV virus to a partner during certain types of intercourse, or how likely you might be to pass on the Herpes virus to a partner while you’re on suppressive therapy. It is difficult, however, for scientists to learn the odds of passing on an STD during multiple types of sexual encounters. There are so many ways for STDs to be transmitted, and the transmission of each STD is unique in and of itself. That’s why it is not reasonable to determine your exact risk of acquiring one of the many types of STDs during any given encounter.
Minimizing Your Risk
While it may not be possible to determine your exact risk of becoming infected, there are a lot of ways you can minimize your risk. Using condoms correctly every time you have a sexual encounter will significantly reduce your risk of becoming infected. Whether you have one partner or multiple partners, you should be regularly tested for STIs. You should always discuss STDs with any potential partner before things get heated.
Practice Safer Sex
Practicing safer sex is the only way to help protect yourself and others from STDs. If you have questions about how you can minimize your risk of becoming infected, as a very experienced urologist, Dr. Elist will be happy to discuss those with you.