An increasing number of expats are suffering from STDs and this trend should clearly be alarming us. This is obviously resulting from careless sexual behavior and unprotected sex, but possibly also from myths or misconceptions about sexually transmitted diseases. Being an expat often means the opportunity of living life to the fullest, to be the person you truly want to be (with as few burdens as possible). We are here providing all the necessary information and services so that you take the best from your stay abroad, thus minimising the risks of contracting an STD.
There are more than 20 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can be contracted through unprotected sexual contact. In general, they can be treated and cured, but prevention is the key as, since it is possible to have STDs with no symptoms. This means that one can contaminate someone else without knowing it.
The most common STDs are: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Gonorrhea, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Chlamydia, Syphilis, Trichomonas, Hepatitis C and B Virus (HBV and HPAV).
The mode of transmission is through sexual contact, whether vaginal, anal, or oral, and symptoms can range from vaginal or penile discharge with mild irritation to severe pain. Often, symptoms only occur when the disease is in a more advanced stage. With most of these diseases, it is possible to stop the progression if detected and treated at an early stage.
The risk of getting an STD is higher if you have unprotected sexual relations with one or more partners who have not been tested or were tested positive for STDs. Furthermore, if you or your partner use intravenous (injected into a vein) drugs then you are at risk.
What causes STDs?
STDs are caused by an infection with a specific bacteria or virus. The bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but for those caused by viruses you can treat the symptoms and, if dealt on time, the consequences, but you will typically not eradicate the virus.
Who can get an STD?
All sexually active people can be exposed to a sexually transmitted disease. Even if you have no symptoms, there are tests that can be done to diagnose the infection. The most important thing, however, is to protect yourself and your partner to avoid infection.
STDs are a cause of significant morbidity in both men and women. Some diseases have the same effect on both men and women, but some diseases show symptoms more often in women. There is for example a significant association with pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, sterility, abortion and poor perinatal outcomes, and transmission to the newborn.
How to prevent STDs
The best way to prevent sexual transmitted diseases is to make sure that you and your partner are tested before you engage in unprotected sex. At this moment the younger generation is often vaccinated for Hepatitis B and the young women are vaccinated for HPV before they become sexually active. Other measures that you can control yourself are:
– Use a condom, to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and avoid STDs.
– Avoid sexual acts that have a bigger risk of tearing or breaking the skin (like anal sex) as they carry a greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
– Be aware that body fluids can also transmit sexually transmitted diseases. Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person carries a high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
Besides this advice it is also important to not share undergarment or towels and to wash yourself before and after intercourse and/or any sexual activity.
If you have any complaints or you have had unprotected sex and you might suffer from an STD or have questions about the testing, you can contact your general practitioner. All clients of Foyer Global Health have unlimited 24/7 access to telemedicine, at no additional cost.
If your case is too complex and requires further analysis, then second medical opinion is the best option as the Best Doctors team will go through your relevant medical records and have them reviewed by a world-leading physician in your condition. This also comes to all of our clients at no extra cost.