Let’s Talk: Sexually Transmitted Diseases_Dr Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCSEd, FRCS(SN), MSc

What are sexually transmitted infections?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) transfer from vaginal, oral or anal sex, from person to person. STIs are common and different in impact. Some symptoms are mild and easy to understand, others may cause long term problems on our lives, leading to issues with health and fertility later in life.

Types of STIs
There are different forms of infections that can be sexually transmitted. We have listed some of the major STIs in the list below:
– Chlamydia
– Gonorrhea
– Syphilis
– Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
– Crabs
– Trichomoniasis
– Herpes (HSV)

These are some of the common ones that affect people and can lead to mild, moderate or serious symptoms including death, if not properly managed.
What if you’re positive?
It can be difficult to get a confirmation of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s also unsettling to learn your partner has one. In such cases, apart from being concerned about their well-being, people also get worried about their partner’s sexual health too.
You should know that, with proper care, you can not transmit it to your partner. You both can still come back to the normal sex life together.

The best way to prevent and protect yourself from STIs is to practice safe sex and use barrier methods like non-latex condoms. Using condom is a great way to improve your reproductive health. Yes, it can sometimes be difficult but that is why you need an understanding partner to support you in the heat of the moment.

Do you need to tell your partner?
What would you do if your test results are positive?
The most important thing to do is to tell your sex partner. Your partner’s sexual health is at risk, so he/she needs to know to prevent the infection. Feeling worried, embarrassed and even scared is natural in such situations. But it’s one vitally important conversation that you need to have to protect your partner. You need to stress the importance and create the atmosphere for a direct, honest and informed conversation. Providing clear answers and possible solutions is important to allay the fears of your partner.
Is educating yourself important?
One of the biggest obstacles you may face is confusion around STI’s prognosis, prevention, and treatment. Your doctor can understand your medical background and risk factors better. Seeking professional advice can help you make an individualized plan as well.
Safety is as simple as it sounds.
Always use a condom during sex, including oral sex. Everyone should get tested for STIs as well, especially young people starting a new relationship. If you or your partner diagnose positive, you must opt for regular screenings.

Practice safe sex
STIs are a sensitive subject, but they are an important part of our overall health. It’s also very important to practice safe sex, whether your partner has an STI or not. Safe sex and having regular check-ups are the easiest and strongest ways to look after ourselves. If you have symptoms or are worried you may have contracted an infection, talk to a doctor or nurse as early as possible.
We must talk about them in the right way to the right people. As an aware adult, it’s important for you to have a good relationship with your doctor and to touch base as soon as and whenever necessary.
Remember, the more we talk about STIs the less the subject remains taboo. The right partner will always be supportive to work with you through this — so be brave, be safe.

Dr Biodun Ogungbo is a UK General Medical Council Registered Specialist in Neurosurgery and Nigeria Medical and Dental Council registered Surgeon. He has extensive surgical repertoire in elective and emergency neurosurgery procedures.

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