The twelve STDs of Christmas

Twelve STDs of christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

With Christmas fast approaching, many of us will be looking forward to annual round of parties with our friends, family and colleagues.  For the lucky few, this may give rise to meeting someone new with the opportunity to continue the party well into the night! 
However, not matter how merry or caught up in the moment you may become, without adequate protection you may end up with a very unpleasant Christmas present. 
So here’s our run down of the twelve STDs of Christmas and how you can avoid your true love, or anyone else for that matter, giving them to you:

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an easily transmitted disease, which affects both men and women.  Chlamydia also happens to be spreading fast and furious in the UK.  It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis and can cause all sorts of problems for both sexes.  This little bug can cause pelvic inflammatory disease for which women may have to be hospitalized for and may cause sterility. If the encounter results in an infant, the child may also be affected if the infection is not treated during the pregnancy.  An infant may experience pneumonia, an inflammation of the eyes, it may be born prematurely or have lung problems after birth.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is another common STD.  It’s a nasty little bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae that grows quickly in areas, which are warm and moist.  It can be transmitted by many sexual practices including oral sex, anal intercourse or transmitted to the cervix and eventually to the womb in women.  If a pregnant woman gives birth while still infected she can also pass the infection onto the baby.  It can also cause miscarriage in women who are in the early stages of pregnancy.  The symptoms of gonorrhoea can show up between 2 to 10 days after exposure in either partner.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a virus that once contracted, will stay with you for your lifetime.  It causes sores around the genital area of both men and women. The initial infection may get better but will reoccur occasionally.  If you think you have contracted genital herpes, contact your doctor. There are pills that can help with the outbreak and subsequent outbreaks. However, once you have herpes without protection, you can transmit it to any sexual partner you have, regardless of if you are having an outbreak at the time of intercourse.

Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by a virus, which once contracted will, also live in your body for life. Genital warts are one of the sexually transmitted infections that may or may not be contracted when exposed.  You will usually notice a painless pink, cauliflower type lesion on your genitalia that may itch.  It may take several months for you to have symptoms but once symptoms start you will have the virus for life.  Genital warts are also thought to be linked to changes in cervical cells that could cause cervical cancer in women.

Trichomonas vaginalis

Trichomonas vaginalis is cause by a single-celled protozoan parasite by the same name.  This infection can be contracted not only by penetration, but by genital area to genital area contact or “heavy petting”.  Women are more likely to exhibit symptoms, which include itching, and a frothy yellow/green, foul smelling discharge as well as painful urination and painful intercourse.  Men generally do not have symptoms but will instead pass it from partner to partner.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viral illnesses transmissible by sexual intercourse, anal intercourse or oral sex.  The chances of contraction are as random as Russian roulette.  The viruses, when contracted, are with you for life.  It can take from several weeks to several months to exhibit symptoms during which time you can pass either virus onto others.  Hepatitis B and C can both cause liver failure and can lead to liver cancer.  There is a vaccine available for Hepatitis B and anyone who is at high risk is advised to get the series of jabs.  For Hepatitis C, there is a treatment if you don't have contraindications, which would prevent its use and it may help clear it from your system.  If you think you have been exposed to either virus, contact your doctor immediately for tests and treatment.  The earlier you have treatment, the better.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral illness usually transmissible by contact with human feces.  Hepatitis A can be treated so it is important to contact sexual partners as soon as possible with the results of your test so they too may be treated.  Once a person has had and cleared Hepatitis A from their systems, they have lifelong immunity to the virus.  There is also a vaccine for Hepatitis A that can be taken for anyone at high risk of contact.  This virus may also be contracted just from contaminated food or water.  People who are traveling to undeveloped countries are advised to get the immunizations before traveling, to avoid contracting the virus.

Syphillis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection, which can be transmitted during sexual intercourse.  It may not be evident that the bacterium is in your system and this makes it easier to spread.  This STD was called the “pox” in earlier times and if left untreated can lead to heart and brain damage in later stages. 

Non-specific urethritis

Non-specific urethritis is caused by a bacterial infection, which only affects men.  It causes an inflammation of the urethra and can cause testicular swelling or in the worst cases, sterility.  It causes burning upon urination and may be transmissible before any symptoms are present.  Even with treatment it may return at times.  If you have been diagnosed with non-specific urethritis, you should contact your sexual partners to let them know before they pass along the infection or are affected themselves.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is experienced by women only and is a non-specific bacterial infection of the vagina.  It may be caused by sexual intercourse but is more likely an infection with no specific cause.  Some schools of thought have hinted at the use of douching that may cause a change in the pH of the vagina thus allowing bacteria already present to multiply.  It is usually treated and resolved easily.

Public lice

Pubic lice are parasites that live on the shaft of the pubic hair.  Pubic lice may be transmitted by sexual contact but may also be contracted infected linens such as sheets or towels or by sharing of underwear.  Pubic lice are treated with a lice-killing shampoo by destroying the “nits” or lice eggs, which are cemented onto the pubic hair by the adult lice.  You will have itching, may have a rash from the lice biting to get blood off the host from which to feed. You may also see nits on the hair shafts, which look like tiny grains of rice.  These must be removed during treatment to rid oneself of the parasite.

HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a viral illness caused by any number of sexual acts which cause body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, or blood to come into contact with skin.  During intercourse there are always minute tears in the skin of the vagina, anus or penis.  The virus then finds a ready pathway into the tissue of the new host and starts multiplying. HIV is also contracted through blood transfusions or by contact with HIV infected blood.  The symptoms of infection include a flu-like illness, pneumonia, a certain type of skin lesion or most commonly, no symptoms at all until the infection is far advanced.  There is treatment for HIV but currently no cure. HIV is generally controllable with treatment but is generally considered to be fatal even though you may be able to control it for many years with proper treatment.  HIV is not contracted through casual contact with someone who has HIV. You don't contract it by touching or shaking hands, by sitting on toilet seats or grabbing a handrail.

Watch for symptoms and seek immediate advice

Any time you experience any of the following, make sure you contact your doctor as soon as you can:
•    Painful intercourse
•    Itching or unusual discharge from the vagina or penis
•    Blisters or a rash on the penis or from the vagina
•    Difficulty urinating or burning when urinating
•    Painful bowel movements or discharge from the anus if you have participated in anal intercourse
•    Sore throat or yellowish drainage on the back of the throat if you have participated in oral sex

Prevention is better than cure

And so with 12 of the most common sexually transmitted diseases or infections listed, prevention is always better than cure.  Our advice is simple: never have unprotected sex with a casual partner. An STD is a gift you won’t want to receive this Christmas, or undoubtedly, at any time of the year.  Keep yourself safe.  Always use a condom.

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