Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Sexually Transmitted Diseases: A Teen's Worst Nightmare
Sexually transmitted diseases are infectious diseases that can be spread by sexual contact. Some can also be transmitted by non-sexual ways, but these make up a minority of the total number of cases. An estimated ten to twelve million Americans have sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases in the United States affect both sexes, all races, and every economic stature. STD's come from different sources. Some are epidemic like gonorrhea, infections of the urethra, genital herpes, and genital warts. Some diseases are caused by a bacterium such as Chlamydia, and others are from protozoan or yeast. Many of these infections are transmitted largely by sexual contact with an infected person. The practice of anal and oral sex also lead to cases of anal and oral infections. Gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydial infections can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her infant, either in the uterus or during birth. Sexually transmitted diseases are very hard to control. Some public officials attribute the increase in many of these diseases to increasing sexual activity. Others say the replacement of the condom with birth control pills and diaphragms might also increase the risk of STD's. Many STD's are transmitted more efficiently from men to women than the reverse, perhaps because the vagina serves as a reservoir that prolongs exposure to infectious secretion (Handsfield 2)
The physical examination of patients with STD or at risk is a simple procedure. All patients require inspection of the entire skin surface. At a minimum they carefully inspect all skin surfaces that are uncovered or exposed during genital examination. This includes the face, head, hands, lower arms, lower trunk, pubic area, thighs, mouth and throat. Also checked in men are the genitals and the pubic and inguinal regions, the penis, urethra, urethral bulb, and the scrotum are checked for tenderness and other abnormalities. For homosexually active men, the anus and perineum are carefully inspected. The examination of women includes inspection of the pubis area, the external genitals, perineum and anus, speculum examination of the vaginal mucosa and cervix, and a bimanual pelvic examination (Handsfield 4).
A way to avoid STD's and unwanted pregnancies is to use a condom. A condom is a sheath worn over the penis during oral, anal, and vaginal sexual contact (Virginia Tech Health Services). Condoms can be made of latex rubber or animal membrane. Animal membrane condoms prevent pregnancy but have large enough pores for tiny HIV viruses to pass through. Latex condoms are much better in forming a barrier against HIV. Polyurethane condoms haven't been fully tested, so people should avoid using them. Do not use novelty condoms like the ones that glow in the dark, these are not FDA approved. Always check the expiration date. Never use a condom after the date stamped on the wrapper or on the seal. Do not use a condom that has been in a wallet for more than a month. Heat and pressure can damage it. Also, stay away from oil-based lubricants, like Vaseline, which can eat through the latex. And finally, do not open the packet with scissors or your teeth, the condom could rip. Nudge the condom away from the edge and gently tear the packet open. Next to abstinence, which is having no sexual relations at all, condoms are the best protection against STD's. When a condom is used correctly, they are about 90 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, and 95 percent effective when used with spermicide. Spermicide, also called Nonoxynol 9, has been found to be effective in killing the HIV virus in laboratory experiments when used at 5 percent strength. Spermicide immobilizes and kills sperm. It comes in jellies, creams, foams, suppositories, film, and as a coating on condoms. STD's can also be avoided by remaining monogamous. This means only having sex with one person whom only has sex with you. If you know that you are clean of all STD's and that your partner is also clean, then you both can avoid STD's by only being with each other.
Chlamydia is a STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacterium is found in infected body fluids from the penis or vagina and it spreads through direct sexual contact and from mother to baby. Chlamydia