Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are infections spread through sexual contact. Although they are usually passed on through intercourse, they can also be passed through other forms of sex. You might ask yourself `well, if that is the case, are all forms of sex unsafe?' Not in so many words but the larger the number of sexual partners a person has, the increased likelihood of a disease being transmitted.
|STDs represent a serious health problem to everyone
Despite the rigorous efforts made in educating the public about safety in sexual interaction, there is an alarming increase in the number of people suffering from these diseases. There is a common misconception that the use of condoms can help prevent the propagation of STDs. The truth is condoms can help but even then risks do exist.
STDs are a growing problem nationally and Muslims are also amongst those affected. I know this both from my own clinical experience and that of colleagues working within the specialist Sexual Health services. Some of these infections can cause not only considerable pain and distress, but in some cases may lead to infertility (Chlamydia) and even death (HIV and Syphillis).
Without comprehensive tests, it is difficult to tell if someone has an infection simply through observation. It is often the case that STDs may not show any symptoms and can therefore pass undetected through sexual contact, but most STDs if picked up and identified early can be effectively treated. Another underlying problem is that the possible symptoms themselves are not exclusive to STDs and may be due to another cause.
Typical symptoms can include:
- vaginal discharge in women or a discharge from the urethra (the tube that runs from the bladder to the tip of the penis) in men.
- in women - bleeding after intercourse or between periods.
- sores, blisters, warts, rashes, irritation or itching near the genitals or anus.
- pain when passing urine, or needing to pass urine more often.
- pain on having intercourse.
- pelvic or lower abdominal pain.
If you suffer from these sorts of symptoms and / or have had sexual contact with someone other than your regular and faithful partner then a STD is a possibility that needs to be looked in to.
There are a number of ways to get checked out privately and confidentially.
- The easiest is going to your GP and discussing the issue with them. Some GPs can offer quite comprehensive testing because they have access to necessary equipment, and in some cases can offer treatment directly or refer you to a Sexual Health clinic.
- It is also possible to go to a Sexual Health clinic directly by ringing up and making an appointment. This does not necessarily have to be a local clinic and arrangements can often be made to see same gender staff if so desired. There you can find counselling and treatment services as well.
STDs represent a serious health problem to everyone, and should not be ignored. Below are some ground rules that you should follow in the case that you are or suspect that you may be infected with a STD.
- Do not ignore the problem: this issue needs to be confronted.
- Understand the risks and how to avoid them.
- Seek prompt medical advice if you think you could be at risk.
- Get and persist with treatment.
- Advise others at risk to do the same.
Sexual Health and National AIDS Helpline - A confidential free helpline
0800 567 123