Hey there, Cupid’s calling, I want to announce the day of love, Valentine’s Day on 14th February!
Dear earthlings, before I busily start releasing plenty of arrows in every color of the rainbow, I want to announce some love principles.
First of all: Use a condom and choose the right condom size. Otherwise it could happen that the condom loses its grip or in reverse, might tear apart. A pretty horrifying scenery for every couple who just wanted to have some fun and no serious intentions to multiply themselves!
But besides the prevention from pregnancy, a condom can protect you from catching or spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In general STDs are a topic most people don’t like to talk about much, but it is really important to be aware of some facts. As the name says, STDs are mainly transmitted through the contact between semen, vaginal, rectal and pre-seminal fluids during vaginal, anal and oral sex. But besides sexual transmission there are many other ways of transmission. An infected pregnant woman can transmit it to the child at birth or through breastmilk.
HIV for instance can be carried as a blind passenger, there are cases where HIV shows no symptoms after the infection. When it shows symptoms, HIV appears with symptoms similar to those caused by a flu, and can easily be confused with that. The typical symptoms appear 2 to 3 weeks after the infection and can contain headache, fever, tiredness, and body aches. The following stage 2 can also show almost no symptoms, but weakens the immune system slowly and quietly. The body might struggle more with ordinary infections or viral diseases. This process can endure up to 15 years until it turns into stage 3, more commonly known as Aids “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome” – “acquired” through the long-term confrontation with the HI-virus without treatment. Significant symptoms are high fevers, breathing problems, pneumonia, coughing, rashes, weight loss and memory problems. Aids weakens the immune system, until one can die from a flu.
However, the earlier HIV is detected the sooner you get medication to stretch the stages and block the transmission.
By doing so, you might not be confronted with any suffering caused by HIV throughout your whole life. Sometimes a lack of knowledge about transmission-ways leads to discrimination against HIV positive people. To end the stigma, there is no way HIV can be transmitted by hugs, shake-hands, through saliva tears, sweat or using the same toilet.
If you could be affected yourself you can visit the nearest HIV Checkpoint. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist for further information. Some pharmacies even sell self-tests, but in most Checkpoints you can get the HIV test for free,- so don’t hesitate. But keep in mind, the HI-virus can just be detected 6 weeks after the risky sexual action. To protect yourself and others from STDs: grab a condom. The key sentence I always praise: “Roses are red, violets are blue, protected sex is all that I do“.
Especially if you didn’t follow that rule and had unprotected Sex with a lot of different sex-partners or had sex with one partner with a really vivid sex life, it’s highly recommended to regularly use the opportunity to get tested on HIV. Furthermore you can get tested on several other STDs, just as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B/C and Syphilis.
Syphilis is also considered as one of the blind passengers among the STDs. After the bacterial infection with Syphilis, it can remain inactive in your body for decades. A chance to detect the infection is a “syphilitic sore” also known as a chance appearing at the body part where Syphilis entered the body. On average the chance appears in the first stage around 3 weeks after the infection, but this sign can stay easily unnoticed because it might be hidden in vagina or anus and causes no pain.
In the first two stages Syphilis is highly infectious and can be transmitted to other people, so every sign which could identify Syphilis should be taken seriously to prevent the spreading. Typical for stage 2 of the overlapping stages are rashes appearing as red or reddish-brown spots covering the palms of the hands or bottoms of the feet or atypical rashes on other body parts. Besides the rashes, flu symptoms like fever, sore throat, headache and muscle pain can be alarming signals next to patchy hair loss and weight loss, which might refer to an infection with Syphilis. These symptoms will go away but Syphilis will progress to the latent stage.
This stage doesn’t show any typical symptoms, but undetected and untreated Syphilis can constantly do serious damage to the body. It can invade the visual, nervous, auditory or vestibular system at any of the stages. Very rarely, Syphilis can also affect the organ system. Penicillin or doxycycline can stop the progression of the infection, but not heal any damage the disease has already done to the body.
The earlier Syphilis is detected, the earlier you can start the treatment and maintain precious life-quality.
Even small suspicions or risks are worthy to be taken seriously. Syphilis is tested by blood or spinal fluid test and is detectable about 10 weeks after the initial infection.
So when you’re back on track after this pit stop, dear earthlings, there is another love principle to keep in mind, have fun. Sadly our image of sex is drastically influenced by media and sex movies where the main attention is set on showing sex as a mechanical process of insertion, showing sex just out of the “male gaze”. This might lead to a spoiled image of sex which can badly influence the experience of sex for all genders. Sex shown in the media could also subconsciously manifest an idea of “what necessarily should happen” during sex or how sex should look like. This misleading image can influence the experience and excitement for representatives of all genders in a negative way.
Finally the most important love principle to mention: every action should happen with consent. Being silent and just letting things happen is not equal to a YES. If you are unsure how to play, just ask your partner, it’s no shame to ask for consent and how the partner would like to spend the time between blankets and pillows with you.
Remember: You set the principles, your body, your choice.
“Have a lovely match, play it safe.”
Written by: Anne Schifkowski
- Early Signs of an HIV Infection: What You Need to Know and Do (healthline.com)
- Ways HIV Can Be Transmitted | HIV Transmission | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment (meine-gesundheit-24.de)
- 6 Surprising Facts About STDs | Rush System
- Detailed STD Facts – Syphilis (cdc.gov)
- Syphilis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention (healthline.com)
- RKI – RKI-Ratgeber – Syphilis
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