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Sexually Transmitted Diseases: An Overview

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According to Planned Parenthood, ʺSexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual contact.ʺ Sexually transmitted infections can also be called sexually transmitted diseases or STDs.

Some sexually transmitted diseases do not have symptoms. Planned Parenthood stated that more than half of us will become infected with a sexually transmitted disease during our lifetime.

We can protect ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases. You can protect yourself from a sexually transmitted disease by practicing safe sex. Medical experts agree that if you have put yourself at risk for a sexually transmitted disease you should have yourself tested.

There are various tests for STDs and they are very easy to take. However, you must request an STD test.

Planned Parenthood website states there are several things you can do to lower your risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Here are a few things you can do to lower your risk:

• Have sex with one partner who has no sexually transmitted infections and no other partners except you
• Have sex play that has no risk, or a lower risk, of passing STDs

No-risk safe sex play includes the following:
• Cybersex
• Sharing fantasies
• Masturbation
• Phone sex
• Mutual masturbation

Low-risk safe sex play includes:

• Body-to-body rubbing (frottage, grinding, or dry humping)
• Kissing
• Oral sex (even safer with a condom or other barrier)
• Fondling — manual stimulation of one another
• Playing with sex toys — alone or with a partner

During sex play, not only can you pass a sexually transmitted disease, you can also pass the flu or mononucleosis. The following is a list of how sexually transmitted diseases are passed from partner to partner.

The following sexually transmitted diseases can be passed skin-to-skin without sexual intercourse:
• scabies
• pubic lice
• herpes
• cytomegalovirus (CMV)

You can pass the following sexually transmitted disease through oral sex without a condom:
• cytomegalovirus (CMV)
• gonorrhea
• hepatitis B
• herpes
• syphilis

The following sexually transmitted disease can be passed through vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom.
• pubic lice
• human papilloma virus (HPV)
• syphilis
• scabies
• cytomegalovirus (CMV)
• genital warts
• hepatitis B
• chlamydia
• human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
• pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
• trichomoniasis
• herpes
• gonorrhea
• chancroid

Latex condoms and female condoms are recommended for anal and vaginal sex. Plastic and non-latex rubber condoms are available if you have a latex allergy.

To further reduce your risk of a sexually transmitted disease you can purchase a female condom. You can order female condoms online. They are available at most Planned Parenthood locations and a some drugstores.


STD Testing - Where Can I Get an STD Test? Sexual & Reproductive Health - Sex Education - Planned Parenthood. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/stds-hiv-safer-sex/std-testing-21695.asp.

Safer Sex ('Safe Sex'). Sexual & Reproductive Health - Sex Education - Planned Parenthood. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/stds-hiv-safer-sex/safer-sex-4263.htm.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Infections – STDs. Sexual & Reproductive Health - Sex Education - Planned Parenthood. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/stds-hiv-safer-sex-101.htm.

Reviewed December 7, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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