Before getting cozy under the sheets with your partner, remember that your sexual and reproductive health is essential for your overall well being.
Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI/STD (sexually transmitted infection/sexually transmitted disease).
STI’s can be detrimental to the health of women (and men) of all ages so, protecting yourself is key.
It is important to understand what an STI/STD is and to recognize the potential health risks. STI’s are a group of infections that can be acquired through sexual contact.
The most common STI’s in Canada are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B and C and genital herpes.
It is easy to shy away from the whole idea of STI’s if you do not understand your risk of getting one. So, here are some facts about STI/STDs in Canada:
– In Canada, reported rates of sexually transmitted infections and diseases have been steadily rising since the late 1990s.
– Young Canadians have the highest reported rates of STI’s; however, increasing numbers of cases are being reported among middle-aged and older adults.
– Up to 50% of men and women will contract an STI at some point in their life, and up to 80% of women will be diagnosed with HPV by age 50.
– Most cases of STI’s are asymptomatic; this means that you may not show any signs and symptoms of infection (i.e., you may be passing it on and not even know).
– Untreated sexually transmitted infections can have long-term health issues. For example an infection that goes undiagnosed can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, pregnancy complications/ infertility, and they can increase your overall risk for developing cervical cancer.
A diagnosis of an STI can be devastating news that you can never be truly prepared for; the best you can do is to educate yourself and focus on prevention.
Debunking the myths that exist about STI’s can be a tricky endeavor. Most importantly, you cannot tell if your partner has an STI just by looking at them. While some STI’s can have visible symptoms, most do not. STI’s can be spread through any form of sexual contact including genital, anal and oral sex. Symptoms can also come and go at different times. The best way to prevent STI transmission is to practice safe sex and get tested.
When it comes to screening women, it is just as simple as going for a gynecological exam. As uncomfortable as those stirrups may be ladies; it is a question of maintaining your overall health.
The idea of that dreadful swab has curtailed many efforts to promote screening among the male population; however, they can rest assured knowing that most testing now can be done through a simple urine test or a quick blood test.
Before you get too comfortable in the bedroom, know this, the only way to ensure you’re protected is to practice safe sex! To do this it is imperative that you talk to your partner, and use a condom. It may feel awkward or uncomfortable and it may seem difficult to strike up the conversation, but it is very important to talk openly about each other’s sexual health.
Stay tuned for our next blog for tips on how to have “THE SEX TALK” with your partner and with your kids!!
M. Hansen, RN
For more information, please visit:
Public Health Agency of Canada: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/sti-its/index-eng.php