A sexually transmitted disease, also known as a VD (Venereal Disease) is an illness or infection that has a significant chance of being spread through sexual activities in human including vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral sex.
Additionally, these infections may also spread through the use of IV drug needles that have previously been used or handled by an infected individual, as well as through childbirth or breastfeeding.
In recent years, the classification of these diseases has moved to the term “sexually transmitted infection” as a person may be infected and capable of spreading the infection without showing any outward signs of “disease”. Common STI’s or STD’s include gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, genital warts, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, hepatitis, HPV, crabs, and scabies.
Means of infection
To properly prevent STD’s, one must at the very least understand how they are contracted. Generally, these infections are transmitted through the mucus membranes of the vulva, penis, rectum, or urinary tract. Genital fluids generally contain large amounts of harmful pathogens (assuming an infection is present). Saliva’s ability to easily transmit STD’s is largely a myth (it would take a considerable amount of saliva to do this).
The infection may still be spreadable even if no symptoms have manifested. This means that many individuals think they are practicing safe sex or not potentially harming their partners but are actually unwary transmitters. STD’s can be fungal, bacterial, or viral in nature. Often times bacterial and fungal diseases can be controlled or cured outright through antibiotics, but viral diseases remain for a lifetime.
There is no 100% safe method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases. While complete sexual abstinence is the best means (>99.999%), STD’s are occasionally transmitted through non-sexual means. “Safe sex” clinics suggest other, non contact means of sexual activity such as cybersex, phone sex, or “masturbation from a distance”.
The next most effective way is to be in a committed, monogamous relationship where both partners have been tested immediately prior to engaging in sexual activity.
Condoms are the most widely used preventative method for sexually transmitted diseases. Most condoms are made of latex, though there are natural animal skin condoms for those that are allergic to latex (these are less effective as some microorganisms may be small enough to pass through animal skin but not latex).
The purpose of condoms is to create a barrier between mucous membranes and skin. Condoms are only effective on the areas they actually cover. Additionally, if condoms are not worn properly they are effectively useless. This means leaving approximately ¾ inch at the top for ejaculation, not wearing it too loose, avoiding spilling or losing it, and not using an oil based lubricant as oil can eat holes through latex.
Some vaccines exist for specific STD’s. Once administered, the individual is effectively immune to the relevant STD either indefinitely or for a specific period of time, after which the vaccine must be re-administered. There are currently vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Herpes Simplex, and some types of HPV. There are many more vaccines currently in FDA trials or in early stages of development.