STI Prevention: Protecting Your Sexual Health

Abdominal pain, fever, pain during intercourse, itching in the genital area, bad breath… these are just some of the symptoms that may indicate the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These infections can affect anyone and are mostly transmitted through unprotected sex. In this article, we will provide you with key information about the prevention and detection of STIs.

For 20 years, Médicos del Mundo has carried out preventive and diagnostic work on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The activity aims to reduce risks by raising awareness and providing rapid analytical tests to combat them.

What is the most effective way to prevent STIs?

Prevention of sexually transmitted infections is very important because of the consequences they cause and the difficulty of detecting and spreading them. STIs are caused by unprotected or risky sexual intercourse, particularly through contact with blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and mucous membranes.

The most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted infection is through the consistent and correct use of prevention methods, as well as the responsible use of sex toys and the avoidance of sexual practices under the influence of drugs that change the ability to make decisions.

How to use a condom correctly?

The most common method of preventing STIs is the use of condoms, which act as a barrier to protect the skin and mucous membranes of the mouth, vagina, anus, and penis. There is also an inner condom, very similar to the outer condom, but larger, and it protects the vagina and vulva. The most common is the external condom or condom, it is very effective and is put on the erect penis before penetration.

Another method of prevention is the oral pad, which consists of a latex sheath in the form of a square sheet about 15 cm in size, which is placed in front of the vagina or anus during oral sex. It is a preventive method, easily found in pharmacies, that protects against infections such as HIV/AIDS by preventing the spread of STIs through fluids or skin-to-skin contact.

Do STIs always have obvious symptoms?

STI trap. Keep in mind that some STIs don’t have any symptoms, or if they do, they usually go unnoticed, which is why “they can be passed on before you know it, and that’s why prevention is so important,” explains Laura . Magan, nurse and medical project technician at Médicos del Mundo. They may cause mild symptoms or disappear after a while, however, STIs may continue despite the absence of physical or psychological signs or symptoms.

How long should I wait to get tested after risky sex?

If you’ve had unprotected sex, have any symptoms, or think you’ve contracted an STI, the best option is to see a doctor as soon as possible for diagnostic testing. The ability to quickly complete the study facilitates the choice and provision of medical care. It is necessary and important to properly and fully undergo treatment. The good news is that most STIs are easily treatable.

At Médicos del Mundo we have a rapid test service for sexually transmitted infections, quickly, anonymously and free of charge. You can email for more information about this.

How long does it take to detect an STI?

According to Magan, the time “depends on the infection: it can take from several days to weeks to detect it, and, for example, in the case of HIV, months.” However, it is transmitted from minute zero. The best way to deal with STIs is prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

What are the most common sexually transmitted infections in Spain?

There are others, but the most common STIs in Spain are:

  • Gonorrhea. It may go unnoticed, but the most common symptoms include changes in vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, discharge from the penis, burning when urinating, and abdominal discomfort. If not properly treated, it can cause infertility and pain during intercourse.
  • chlamydia: other, which may not cause symptoms, but may cause abdominal and pelvic pain, vaginal or penile discharge, burning, and itching. Left untreated, it can lead to infertility.
  • Simple genital herpes: Differs in the appearance of vesicles or ulcers in the genital area, itching, pain, and general malaise. It cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled with treatment.
  • Trichomonas-Trichomoniasis: It can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, strong odor, discomfort when urinating and during intercourse, and itching. If left untreated, it can lead to an inflammatory disease in the genital tract.
  • Syphilis: This STI develops in three phases and can affect various organs. If not treated properly, it can lead to serious illness and even death.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): often has no visible symptoms, but can cause genital warts and increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. Left untreated, it weakens the immune system and can lead to AIDS, which is a chronic infection.

Is the HPV vaccine only for women?

The human papillomavirus vaccine is not just for women, although in 2007 vaccination was recommended for adolescent women, a year later, in 2018, a vaccination recommendation for both sexes was approved. According to the Ministry of Health of the Spanish government, from 2022, vaccination is recommended for male adolescents at the age of 12 years. Two vaccines are sold in Spain: Cervarix (protection against human papillomavirus types 16 and 18) and Gardasil 9 (protection against human papillomavirus types 6, 16, 18 and 31). These two vaccines are always available by prescription. In Spain, each autonomous community has different coverage for this vaccine. If you would like more information about the distribution itself, please contact us.

Obligations of doctors of the world

Proper management of STI prevention, diagnosis, and treatment is essential to reduce the spread of infection to others, thereby reducing the incidence of these diseases and protecting society. For this reason, Médicos del Mundo, under the Camino Plan for Birthing, conducts various outreach activities, prepares educational materials, delivers prevention kits and provides rapid tests, among many other tasks. For Médicos del Mundo, prevention is the key to people’s sexual and reproductive health, as well as adequate treatment of STIs, as it can prevent infertility. people become more familiar with using condoms or making decisions about their sex lives. In the case of the poorest populations, a mechanism for the protection and prevention of STIs can be of key importance given the limited access to health care.

Médicos del Mundo, as part of its mission to provide health care, views the promotion of and access to STI prevention mechanisms as a critical activity to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs, and to protect vulnerable populations.

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