STDs stands for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Okay, it is a disease gotten only through sexual activities, right? Sorry to disappoint you. In essence, STDs are diseases which can be gotten or contracted through having sex, as well as through other non-sexual activities. You may not have been as careful and protected as you thought.

STDs are products of the actions of microorganisms that invade the human body. They are called STDs because the majority of reported cases of the diseases recorded their main route of transmission as through sexual intercourse. However, these microorganisms can also take other routes, provided they are given the opportunity to access their host.

We will examine STDs according to:

  • Their medium/vehicle of spread or transmission
  • Their routes/ways of spread or transmission

Medium/Vehicle of spread or transmission

Blood

Blood is the fluid substance pumped out by the heart to all parts of the body. It transports oxygen and nutrients needed by the body to the body cells, and in turn, carries carbon dioxide and other waste products away from these body cells.

Blood is constantly circulating, as it returns to the heart after its movement to the cells of the body. This it does repeatedly, moving from the heart to the rest of the body and back to the heart. Consisting of the plasma, the red blood cells, the white blood cells and the platelets, the blood is approximately 6 to 9 percent of an adult human weight.

Certain microorganisms are blood-borne, and can thrive in a blood medium. Once introduced into the human circulatory system, these organisms are carried by the blood, in its repeated movement to and from the heart and the body cells. This accounts for the continual presence of these organisms as they replicate, destroy or fill up the entire blood supply of the body unless their activities are inhibited.

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Bodily fluids other than blood

Cerebrospinal fluid, vaginal fluid, semen, breast milk, pus, saliva, and sweat are some of the bodily fluids through which harmful microorganisms are carried into the body. These fluids are natural secretions within and from the body. They help to maintain body homeostasis, help in digestion of food and nourish new-born babies (as it concerns breastmilk). Sadly, they also act as vehicles that convey disease-causing microorganisms, into the body.

A person whose body has been invaded by any of these microorganisms is said to be infected with an STD. How then, can he spread these harmful STDs? Below are some of the routes of spread of STDs.

Ways/Routes of spreading STDs

Through blood transfusion

Blood transfusion is the intravenous process of receiving either whole blood or any of the constituents of blood into one's circulatory system. Viruses that can cause HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C can be spread through blood transfusion. They are classified in this phenomenon as transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs). Here, the blood serves as a medium for the spread of the STDs.

Through organ transplant

Though a relatively rare route, going by the known track record of only three transmissions of HIV since 1987, some words could be said of organ transplant and STDs. Organ transplant is the process whereby the desired organ is removed from the body of a donor to a recipient's body, to serve as a replacement for the damaged or missing organ in the body of a recipient. The donor could be an animal, a deceased person, or a living person.

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As a practice, medical tests are carried out on the donor to ascertain the “cleanliness” of his/her blood before the transplant. It is likely the STDs may escape being detected if there are no significant symptoms presented, or there could be a poor screening of these diseases in the donor. When an infected organ becomes placed in the body of a recipient, the STD spread.

Through sex

Finally. This is how STDs got their name.

Basically, STDs are spread or transmitted from a person to another through acts of sexual intercourse, ranging from vaginal sex to oral sex. Having sex is the most common of all routes by which STDs are spread. The mediums or vehicles for sex route include vaginal fluid, blood, semen, saliva, and pus. On contact with any of these bodily fluids, STDs can be transmitted.

The harmful pathogens tend to hide in these fluids and show no early symptoms of their presence. Examples of STDs that can be contracted through sex include Herpes, Hepatitis A, B and C, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.

Through kissing

Oral herpes is most commonly spread through kissing. An individual with a syphilitic sore in his/her mouth or on his/her lips can spread Syphilis through long and deep kissing. The channels for the spread of these diseases are saliva and pus.

Through skin-to-skin contact

Genital herpes, Syphilis, Hepatitis A, and B can be spread through skin-to-skin contact with the open sore of an infected person. This occurs when there is a breakdown of the skin barrier on an uninfected person which became exposed to the infected sore from an STD carrier.

Through breastfeeding

HIV/AIDS is easily transmitted from a breastfeeding mother to her child through breast milk. This is called mother-to-child transmission. It is medically advised that HIV positive mothers do not breastfeed their new-born babies until it is ascertained that the viral load of HIV in the mother is too insignificant to be transmitted to the baby via breast milk.

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Through sharing of sharp body objects

Sharp objects that pierce or cut the skin should be used once, and afterward disposed of. If it will be costly a thing to do, they should be sterilized before being used on another body. Sharing these sharp objects without sterilizing them is an avenue for the spread of HIV, Hepatitis A, B, and C. Examples of such objects are razor blades, tattoo needles, cuticle nippers, hair clippers, injection needles, and syringes.

Other ways/routes of spreading STDs are:

  • Through eating contaminated food prepared by someone who has come in contact with STD-causing microorganisms without properly washing his hands before preparing the food. Hepatitis A, B, and C can be spread in that manner.
  • Through sharing of damp clothing and towels. Trichomonas vaginalis can be spread through this route.
  • Through hand to eye contact. This could lead to the disease of the aqueous humor, and eventually, blindness. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia could be spread through this contact.

Since these STDs do not show symptoms as early as can be desired, it calls for routine screening/testing to know if one has already contracted them. They are almost everywhere. Why not get yourself tested with a home kit today?