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Worried about Pregnancy?
Understanding Your Risks
Preventing Sexually Transmitted Disease
In a society where casual sex is
presented as the norm it's easy to forget about the potential
consequences of careless behavior. Although STD's may pose a health
threat to everyone, be aware that women stand to lose much more
from irresponsible sexual behavior than men. STD's wreak havoc
on a woman's reproductive organs and may result in permanent infertility
or even death. Teenage sexual activity and having multiple sex
partners has been strongly linked to cervical cancer — a condition
that men don't need to worry about.
Many sexually transmitted diseases
can be treated or cured by your doctor. If you notice any vaginal
itching, burning, unusual discharge, blisters, or pain, you should
visit your gynecologist right away. The symptoms of some STD's,
like syphilis or herpes, may come and go. Other STD's, like gonorrhea
or chlamydia, may have no noticeable symptoms whatsoever. Symptoms
or not, STD's are dangerous if left untreated. Untreated chlamydia
or gonorrhea can result in sterility and inflammation, and untreated
syphilis can result in death. If you become pregnant, STD's can
be passed on to your baby causing infant sickness or death.
||Protective, but not for HPV
||Increases risk of HIV
||Protective against cervical infection
Can facilitate vaginal bacterial overgrowth
|Oral Contraceptives /
|Increases risk of chlamydia and gonorrhea
||Increases risk of HIV
||Increases risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
|Cervical Cap (FemCap)
||Potentially protective against chlamydia and gonorrhea. Research currently underway.
||Potentially protective against HIV. Research currently underway.
Some sexually transmitted diseases are incurable. Human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) infection will lead to AIDS and death. Human papillomavirus
(HPV) can result in pain, genital warts, reproductive cancers, and death. Hepatitis
B is also very serious. Herpes, though not fatal, is a lifelong
of latex or polyurethane
can help reduce the likelihood of most STD's, but even these sometimes
allow the transmission of disease; 2-6% of condoms break or fall off
during intercourse, and a condom can break even if you use it
perfectly. A condom is not protective against human papillomavirus
Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 were
once thought to help prevent HIV infection, but newer studies
show an increased risk because the chemical can irritate the vagina,
facilitating infection. Consequently, spermicides are no longer
being recommended for HIV prevention.
Hormonal methods of birth control, such as Depo-Provera (the shot),
the patch, and oral contraceptives,
can actually increase your chances of getting an STD from your partner if he is infected.
Depo-provera will supress the immune system, and hormonal methods can make the reproductive tract more vulnerable to infections like HIV and chlamydia.
Sexual activity can put you at risk. Many sexual activities aside
from intercourse can result in infection as well. Know your partner
and his sexual history. The only "safe sex" is lifelong
monogamy with an uninfected partner. (More on
Responsible Sexual Choices.)
|R E P R O D U C T I V E T R A C T I N F E C T I O N S
|Most Common STDs
||Less Common STDs
||Other Genital Infections
||Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
||Candidiasis / Yeast
|| & Genital Warts
||Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
||Hepatitis A & C
If there's any chance that your partner
might be infected, suggest that he first be examined by a doctor.
If he is unwilling to visit a doctor or discuss his sexual history,
maybe you should ask yourself if you really want to have intercourse
with him. 20% of men would lie about their HIV positive status
just to get sex, so be careful. You have a right to know what
you are getting into.
Never allow yourself to be pressured
into a sexual relationship. Never let a man coerce or bully you
into having intercourse with him. Don't be afraid to say no. If
he forces himself on you after you've said no, or if he takes
advantage of you while you're intoxicated, it is considered rape.
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