In recent years, there has been a worrying increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among the younger generation, especially the female population. A World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that more than 1 million STIs are contracted every day. It includes cases of four main types of STIs which are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
A sexually transmitted infection is an infection that is spread by sexual contact. While some STIs can be treated, some types of STIs can’t be cured. It can have serious consequences beyond the immediate impact of the infection itself. The long-term effects of STIs can be serious and can be related to both sexual and reproductive health. So, it is important that if you are sexually active, you are also aware how to prevent STIs.
Health Shots spoke to Dr Bharathi Ramesh, Senior Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bengaluru, to find out ways to reduce the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.
Dr Ramesh says, “STIs can have significant effects on your reproductive health and can lead to syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which are a few examples of STIs. It is extremely important to be responsible and avoid them to ensure good health.”
How to prevent STIs naturally?
Here are tips to avoid and prevent sexually transmitted infection.
1. Use protection
Use condoms or other tested methods of protection. It significantly lowers the chance of STI transmission. If you’re allergic to latex condoms, there are other options available, though these can have greater breaking rates than latex condoms. But you should still use it for protection and have safe sex.
2. Monogamous sexual relationship
Having a monogamous sexual relationship will minimize the risk of catching any kind of sexually transmitted infection. While having sex with multiple partners can put you at a higher risk of being exposed to infections.
3. Maintain hygiene
Maintain intimate area hygiene and wash your vagina before and after involving in sexual activity. It is also important to keep your intimate area clean all the time as a hygiene measure as poor hygiene can make you prone to bacterial and viral infection.
4. Regular checkups
Get regularly checked for STIs if you are sexually active. It can help you to avoid any further infections.
Also read: Beware of these 5 STDs that have no cure
5. Open communication
If you’re getting into a new relationship, talk to your partner about your sexual history and inform them of any STIs or other sexually transmitted diseases you may have. Request that they do the same. Being open and honest with your partner can help to reduce the risk of it.
6. Awareness about oral sex
You can get several sexually transmitted infections through oral sex, whether it is chlamydia or trichomoniasis. To avoid it, use condoms even during oral sex, maintain dental hygiene, and get yourself tested.
7. Avoid sharing products
Do not share personal items such as needles, sex toys, or anything else, as it is another way of catching a sexually transmitted infection.
Get vaccinated for STIs. Vaccines such as HPV can help you avoid infections like genital warts.
While you must practice these safe sex tips to prevent STIs, you should also be on the lookout for symptoms such as rashes, sores or bumps. If you find any of these symptoms even in your partner, avoid having sex with them.
STIs can be cured, but prevention is better!
What makes sexually transmitted infections risky?
Sexually transmitted infections can be tough to diagnose. Some of them show few or no symptoms. Due to this most of the time, people realize that they have caught it after a long time. If not treated on time, it could worsen, causing you extreme discomfort and pain.
Also read: 5 types of STI that show few or no symptoms
Moreover, what makes it risky is the taboo around it. Dr Ramesh says, “People still feel very shy or awkward talking about sexual health issues and don’t even seek treatment because they fear being judged. But ladies, you can trust your doctor. Your doctor can actually help treat the condition and help you have a better sex life.” You should understand that STIs are highly contagious, and a sexually active person who has caught the disease can spread it to a lot of other people. A few STIs can even escalate to cancer, causing irreversible damage to immunity that can be life-threatening. So get yourself tested today!