I’ve always been open to learning about what happens to your body, especially in the event that it happens to me. I’ll be the first to say that getting an STI isn’t something I’ve experienced first hand. However, I realized how little knowledge I have about the topic when my younger cousin asked me a question because she was learning about it in school. So I did some research because let’s be honest, Google is not the best way to find information all the time.
This is the shocking information I learned from my research that they definitely didn’t teach us in health class:
1. A lot of STI symptoms start with flu-like symptoms
A common misconception about STI’s is that there will be obvious hints that something is wrong – because you get a few warts, or your skin starts acting funny. This isn’t entirely false, however earlier symptoms often include nausea, headaches, chills, body aches, fever, and exhaustion. It can take a few days for visible symptoms to appear, depending on the infection you have!
The following often start with flu-like symptoms: HIV, Genital Herpes, HPV, and Hepatitis.
2. Condoms don’t always protect you
Like with pregnancy, condoms aren’t perfect at preventing an STI. However, there are ways to ensure you get the best protection possible. In the heat of the moment, no one wants to be fumbling around to find an expiration date on a wrapper, but expired condoms can cause the latex to thin out, causing less protection. Condoms can also be damaged by being left in extremely hot and extremely cold areas. So use condoms and take them seriously!
3. You may not develop any symptoms immediately
After reading a pamphlet in a doctor’s office, I learned that you may not always experience your symptoms within days or weeks of contracting. As Medicinenet explains, some people don’t experience them at all! You can literally go years without having a single symptom and one day you can randomly start noticing the effects. Scary right? Getting checked regularly helps monitor your body!
4. You can get herpes from oral
Oral herpes (cold sores) can be transmitted during kissing, sharing cups, cutlery or toothbrushes, and of course , oral sex. Medicinenet.com says that in between outbreaks, the virus remains present in the body inside nerve cells, so it can be spread even when there is no sign of a cold sore. On a positive note, this form of herpes is not exactly the same as genital herpes and not as serious. You will almost always experience no severe side-effects or change in lifestyle.
5. Suffering from symptoms doesn’t always last!
Although a positive diagnosis might feel like a death sentence to some, the torture won’t always continue. When I learned about STIs in school I honestly thought that when you have one you experience those symptoms constantly, but that’s not necessarily true.
As the Mayoclinic explains, infections such as HIV/AIDS have more persistent symptoms that can last for longer periods of time. However, those who have Herpes for example, may only have an ‘outbreak’ a small amount of time in their lives. With most STIs the first outbreak is the worst, but with the help of the medication you take each time, it will help build up an immunity in your body to help fight the symptoms from appearing again. Additionally, many STIs are entirely treatable with antibiotics and won’t cause lasting damage if caught early.
6. Medications can help!
If you have contracted any STI and still want to have sex with a partner, but lower the risks of passing it on, there is a way to do it! Condoms are obviously one of the best ways to help lower the chances, and there is a form of medication you can take daily as well. And if you are suffering through the discomfort of an outbreak, medications provided by your doctor can help relieve the pain and diminish certain symptoms.
Remember to get checked regularly and if you do test positive, make sure to let your previous partner’s know. If you’re too embarrassed to say anything, there are free services that will notify your partners someone they hooked up with has tested positive, and that they need to be tested too. It’s completely confidential, and brings awareness to getting tested.
According to dosomething.org, young people, between the ages of 15 to 24, account for 50% of all new STIs, but only represent 25% of the sexually experienced population. To get tested or seek more information please go to your doctor! A few minutes of discomfort or embarrassment is 10x better than living with an infection for the rest of your life.
Featured Image Via Screengrab from Mean Girls