Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are transmitted through sexual activity. Any sexual activity can transmit the pathogens that cause STD's. Penile vaginal contact is not a requirement for transmission. You can pick up a sexually transmitted disease through oral genital ...Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are transmitted through sexual activity. Any sexual activity can transmit the pathogens that cause STD's. Penile vaginal contact is not a requirement for transmission. You can pick up a sexually transmitted disease through oral genital contact. The vagina, the penis, and the mouth are all lined with mucous membranes and are equally vulnerable to the bacteria and viruses that cause STD's.

There are various kinds of sexually transmitted diseases and all of them are caused by a microorganism.

Bacterial STD's

The most common are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis and gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhea bacterium. Because these two sexually transmitted diseases are caused by bacteria they are treated with antibiotics. However, recently there have been some difficulties with this type of treatment as the causative organisms are developing resistance. Some people may get treated with antibiotics and think they are cured but in fact if they have a resistant variety of pathogen their infection may not be successfully treated and the infection continues to be passed on to others.

Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia may in fact not be noticed as first. Some people have "silent" infections that do not cause noticeable symptoms until the infection has spread. This is a particularly serious complication in women because if the infection ascends into the uterus and fallopian tubes the woman can have a serious pelvic infection. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease. Infertility can be the result.

Viruses are also a cause of sexually transmitted diseases. The two most common ones are genital herpes and genital warts.

Genital herpes or herpes progenitalis is caused by a virus in the same family as the virus that causes cold sores and chicken pox. All warts are caused by a virus and genital warts are caused by the human pappiloma virus (HPV). HPV in women is known to be cause cervical cancer.

Unlike STD's caused by bacteria there is no way to cure an infection caused by one of these viruses. Once you have it you have it forever. The virus remains in you for your lifetime. The infection is usually characterized by periods of exacerbation when the virus is active and causing symptoms, and periods of remission when the virus is dormant. During this time skin outbreaks or obvious signs of the disease are not noticeable. However, even during remissions your still have the virus in your system.

Preventing STD's

Like any type of infection preventing the spread of the causative organism is the best way to control the spread of the illness.

Preventing STD's means taking responsibility for protecting yourself and others from the transmission of infection. You would not knowingly go up to a person with tuberculosis and allow them to cough in your face. The same precautions are necessary to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. If you are not in a 100% committed monogamous relationship always use a condom.

Condoms are available everywhere. Grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores and vending machines make condoms accessible to everyone. You can even order them delivered directly to your door by mail. There is no excuse not to know how to get and use a penile condom.

The male condom is what most people think of when the word condom is used. It is a simple latex sheath that is rolled on over the erect penis. The correct way to use a condom is to make sure that it is applied before contact with skin or mucous membranes. It provides a barrier between the mucous membrane surfaces of the sexual partners and therefore prevents the organism from being passed between the two people.

Female condoms are also available. However, they may not be as readily available as the the more commonly used penile condom. A female condom is best described as a specially designed latex liner for the vagina. On the closed end a ring is necessary to keep the condom in place around the cervix and the external end of the condom has a ring much like a male condom. However, the female condom is not unrolled like a penile condom. In fact it looks more like a small bag with a ring at both ends. It requires practice and skill for proper insertion. Just like its male counterpart, the female condom is a single use item.

Using barrier protection is the single most effective way for preventing STD's. The female condom provides an alternative to the more commonly used penile condom and allows the female partner to be completely in control of the barrier protection needed to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Sexually transmitted diseases can have serious consequences in your life. Don't let a microscopic invader change your life forever.

Author's Bio: 

Beverly OMalley is a nurse who is passionate about health promotion and health education. Visit www.colonhealth-tips.com where Bev explores the various requirements and strategies for colon health and provides information about bowel diseases.