Pregnancy is not the only thing to be concerned about after having sex.  STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are all too common!  Some can be cured.  Some cannot.  Many have lifelong effects.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women.  At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire this genital infection at some point in their lives.  If genital warts are present, there is a 70% transmission rate. Most HPV infections have no signs or symptoms; therefore, most infected people are unaware they are infected, yet they can transmit the virus to a sex partner. 

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States.  Any sexually active person can be infected with Chlamydia, but the greater the number of sex partners, the greater the risk of infection.  50-75% of those infected have no symptoms.  Because the cervix of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured, they are at a particularly high risk for infection.  Untreated women also risk possible infertility and untreated men risk possible sterility. 

Gonorrhea is also a bacterial STD.  Women often have no symptoms, or mild ones that can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.  Untreated Gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in men and women.

Syphilis, too, is a bacterial STD, but is only treatable in the early stages.  Since symptoms in the
first two stages can clear up and go away without treatment (stage 1's chancre sores and stage 2's rashes & flu-like symptoms), Syphilis can sometimes go undiagnosed. Untreated men and women can progress to stage 3, which can be life-threatening!

Herpes viral infections are transmitted skin-to-skin, regardless of the presence of sores or other symptoms.  Type 1 often causes fever blisters on the mouth or face, and Type 2 typically affects the genital area, but most individuals with Type 2 don’t know that they’re infected.  Both types are transmittable in either location on the body.  20% of adolescents and adults have herpes.

HIV-AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus – acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a viral infection with no cure.  It can take 3-6 months for an infected person to test “positive”.  HIV is the virus that causes the disease AIDS.  A person can be infected with HIV for many years before symptoms of AIDS develop.  Because HIV damages your immune system, you may have a higher chance of getting other diseases (called opportunistic infections).  Those who die with AIDS usually die from these opportunistic infections.  Over 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and 1 in 5 (20%) of them are unaware of their infection.

Sex IS a big deal.  Know the facts.  Make informed decisions.  Respect yourself!