Every time we talk about sex and sexually related activities such as many of the BDSM and kinky play we do it's important, if not imperative, that we are safe and aware of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and infections you can get. You should have tests for STDs regularly if you choose to have multiple partners, or if you are changing partners. Maintaining a clean bill of sexual health will provide yourself and your partner(s) with reassurance and safety.

Even though you may be disease free does not mean you shouldn't practice safe sex. If you need a refresher, check the previous post on safer kinky sex practices.

Let's go over the ten most common sexually transmitted diseases. It was a learning experience for myself as well since I was not familiar with all of them. If you suspect you have any of the infections below, please see a doctor immediately.

SYPHILIS

Transmission

Sores around mouth and genitals of infected person can pass bacteria to open cuts or broken skin on a partner.

Symptoms

1st stage: 10-90 days after exposure, hard, red painless sore appears anywhere there has been sexual contact like penis, vagina, cervix, tongue, anus. Get help immediately! Disappears after 2-6 weeks if untreated but it's spreading silently thru body to cause stage two.

2nd stage months later: rash, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, weight loss, headache, hair loss. Heals in 2-6 weeks. Without treatment, symptoms may disappear to return years later.

3rd stage: damage heart and cause paralysis, dementia, even death.

Treatment

Tests are available to detect Syphilis.  Large doses of penicillin or other antibiotics for as long as needed until cured. Don't have sex until you're cured. If not treated correctly, Syphilis can erupt years later as 3rd stage Syphilis with serious consequences.

CHLAMYDIA

Transmission

Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.

Symptoms

When symptoms are present in men: Painful urination, whitish discharge from the penis or testicular pain. In women: Itching, burning in genitals, greenish vaginal discharge, dull pelvic pain. You must have a medical diagnosis. Insist on careful testing. Diagnosis without tests can be inaccurate. Often no sign of infection.

Treatment

Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. A single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline (twice daily) are the most commonly used treatments.

GONORRHEA

Transmission

Most always through sexual intercourse.  In heavy petting, if genitals are touched, even without going all the way, you can be infected.

Symptoms

Nothing for 2-9 days, then frequent painful burning urination and whitish, greenish or yellow discharge from penis or vagina.  In men, the opening of the penis may be red or sore.  Other symptoms:  a sore throat, swollen glands, discharge from anus or urethra.  Sometimes there are no symptoms.

Treatment

Medical professionals will prescribe proper antibiotics.  Take all the prescribed doses.  Chlamydia is often present with Gonorrhea so both conditions should be treated at the same time.  Your sex partner(s) should be treated to avoid re-infection.

HERPES

Transmission

Genital herpes can be spread by oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as other intimate contacts. Because it is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and not simply through the exchange of bodily fluids, condoms cannot entirely prevent transmission, although they do somewhat reduce the risk.

Symptoms

Herpes (genital or oral) infections are characterized by an outbreak of small, painful sores which may be covered with a thin layer of pus. Frequently, just before an outbreak, people will have what is known as prodromal symptoms, which might include itching or tingling at the site of infection

Treatment

NO CURE.

Prescription medicine, ointment or capsule, eases the pain, shortens attack.  Herpes may seem to go away after treatment.  That doesn't mean you're rid of it.  Too much sun seems to cause attacks.  Avoid sex and tight clothes during the attack.  Daily suppressive therapy is available.

HIV/AIDS

Transmission

HIV is transmitted through bodily secretions. It is not transmitted by casual contact. Methods of HIV transmission between adults include sex (oral, vaginal, anal) with an infected partner and sharing needles or syringes with an infected partner. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her infant during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Bodily fluids that contain HIV include:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal secretions
  • breast milk

Symptoms

Many have no early symptoms. Positive antibody test means person has HIV antibodies and is considered "HIV positive." May not feel sick but is a carrier and dangerous. Should get medical counseling.

Important to identify early signs of AIDS - related infections: swollen lymph glands, night sweats, fever, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, possible thrush and shingles. See a doctor.

Full-blown AIDS: immune system shuts down. Victim gets fatal "opportunistic" disease.

Treatment

NO CURE.

HIV treatment is incredibly complex, and any HIV-positive individual should expect to spend a great deal of time discussing possible treatment options with their physician. The goal of HIV treatment is to reduce the levels of virus in the blood to undetectable. This will slow the progression of the virus, and help an HIV-infected person maintain a strong immune system that can fight off other infections.

HEPATITIS

Transmission

Type B (serum hepatitis) and type C:

Spread by mouth/mouth, mouth/genital or other sexual contact or contaminated needles in drug use, tattooing or ear piercing.  Type A: Can be spread in foreplay during sex or oral/genital and oral/anal sex.  Also through contaminated food or water.  Always wash hands after using toilet.

Symptoms

Hepatitis B symptoms usually appear within three months of infection, and may include some or all of the following: jaundice (yellowing of the skin/whites of the eyes), fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, low grade fever, and flu-like symptoms.

Treatment

Blood diagnosis by health professional is very important!  Get bed rest until symptoms disappear.  It may take weeks or months to recover fully.  No alcohol during convalescence.  Use birth control method other than the pill until your doctor say you're completely cured.  NO medication (even over-the-counter drugs) without a health professional's approval.