The Stigma of STD’s
Whenever a celebrity reveals that he or she has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) known referenced as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), the media explodes with the “news.” Then most of us talk about it. How could this have happened to a rich, successful icon? Did he do something to deserve the affliction? Why did he fail to prevent it?
Charlie Sheen is not the first celebrity to admit to test positive for HIV status. Nor will he be the last. And while his lifestyle placed him at a higher risk, this was not necessarily the direct indicator or predictor for contracting a STI. However, Sheen’s diagnosis is a reminder that sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate based on age, gender, or socioeconomic status. No matter who you are, if you do not make a conscious decision to have safer sex, the results can be life changing.
Photo Credit Manchesterusersnetwork.org
Myths around STI’s
The list of STIs is long. Some of the more common ones are HPV, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis and hepatitis C. Contracting these STIs is not always a reflection of lifestyle, but is often the result of a choice in which you may or may not have had control.
Look at it from this perspective: no one is immune from STIs. If you are in a committed relationship and/or married, you are not necessarily immune. If your partner has unprotected sex with other(s), this increases your risk and exposes you to STIs.
Let me share an example. I know someone who had only been with one man sexually and she was married to him. But he cheated on her numerous times during their marriage. She was unaware of this, and he managed to pass along herpes to her. Now she has a STI.
Another woman I know who had limited sexual partners contacted HPV. Men are the carriers of HPV and transmit it to women. Scary, but true.
While these are devastating stories about innocent individuals contracting STIs, such events actually happen quite frequently.
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5 Ways to Maintain Your Sexual Health
It’s important that we have candid conversations about STIs. We need to remove the stigma. If you look at the statistics relating to a STI, they are common. In fact, it is likely that you, someone you know, or someone close to you has been the recipient of a STI at some point. But if we are transparent and educate ourselves with regard to STIs, we can all become more aware. If we help each other become more informed, we will be able to have healthy sex lives. This self-awareness around STIs creates ways for all of us to have safer sex.
Here are some precautions you can take to ensure you stay STI-free:
- Use latex condoms when you have sex. Lambskin condoms are not a good alternative as they increase your chances of contracting STIs because they are thinner, more porous, and prone to breakage. If you have latex allergies, polyisoprene condoms are a safer alternative.
- Get tested regularly and screened for STIs and HIV. The sooner you identify a healthcare problem, the quicker you can take actions to resolve your sexual health issues.
- Talk openly with someone you plan to have sex with about your sexual history. Ask questions about theirs. Protect yourself by ALWAYS using protection. If you do decide to have unprotected sex, have your partner show you their test results or go and get tested together. Waiting until you are in the middle of having sex for the first time is the wrong time to have this conversation.
- Learn how to use a condom properly. Leaving a condom halfway on or partly off won’t work. There should be enough room for air at the end of the condom. Women can also use condoms which can be inserted into the vagina.
- Clarify with your partner your relationship status. Are the two of you in a monogamous relationship? Is your partner dating, or sexually active with other people? Know what the deal is with your relationship. Have these conversations often. This is about your health and you have to be proactive about it. If you thought you were in a monogamous relationship but now sense your partner may be having sex with other people, you need to realize the risk involved. You should protect yourself or get out of the relationship .
STIs don’t have to be scary if you educate yourself about your body. You can be proactive and use the known methods for protecting yourself. That way, you can lessen your risk for contracting HIV or any STI.
Whenever you choose to be sexually active, go in with your eyes open. Make decisions which will help you optimize your sexual health. Look to Charlie Sheen and other celebs who have contacted STI’s for inspiration. These people can provide us with a wake-up call, a reminder that it is up to each of us to do what we can to remain sexually healthy.
You are capable of receiving love. There is a relationship that will work for you. Sometimes all you need is a nudge in the right direction. If you are struggling with your current relationship, newly divorced and looking to get back in the dating scene, or single and trying to find the right person for you, maybe I can help. Reach out to me at email@example.com, or sign up on my website to receive dating tips and relationship advice. For fast advice, read my book, The Relationship Investigator’s Fast Guide to Successful Dating.