Frequency of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
For many reasons, plenty of people believe that STIs “wouldn’t happen to me”. Yet statistics prove otherwise. The World Health Organisation has estimated that more than one million STIs are acquired daily worldwide. The Center for Disease Control in the United States has estimated that approximately half of the population experiences at least one STI in their lifetime. In short, STIs are far more common than we realise. The stigma and shame associated with STIs are possibly to blame for making it a topic not normally mentioned or discussed openly. This easily leads to poor awareness of STIs. And with low levels of awareness comes a reduced impetus to protect ourselves from the threat of STIs.
Repercussions of STIs
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are among the most common STIs. While these infections start out in a fairly innocuous fashion, many of them produce serious and potentially life-threatening consequences once the infection reaches an advanced stage. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women and epididymitis in men, which can result in infertility and dangerous infections. Syphilis can also cause severe lasting damage at the advanced stage, ranging from widespread inflammation in different organs to neurological problems.
STIs are most common in young people of childbearing age, and it is this population that is most likely to be affected by the negative consequences of STIs. STIs can also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child. Therefore, even the next generation is also at risk for complications from STIs.
Fortunately, many STIs are curable. Even those that cannot be treated can still be managed with the correct medication, preserving the life expectancy of those who have been infected, as well as their quality of life. However, treatment must be started early to avoid complications from STIs, since the damage already inflicted by the infection is often not reversible, even with treatment. Getting the correct treatment early also significantly reduces the risk that you will pass on the disease to your partner(s) and/or your unborn child.
When should you get tested for an STI?
Many STIs do not produce any symptoms in infected people, at least in the initial stage of infection. If present, symptoms can also be vague. Therefore, reliable STI diagnosis requires laboratory testing. Many of such tests have been miniaturised so that they can be conducted in home testing kits as well.
It is prudent to get tested for an STI for a variety of other reasons:
- If you engage/have engaged in behaviours that place you at a high risk of acquiring STIs, such as: having unprotected sex, having multiple sexual partners, being in a sexual relationship with someone who has multiple sexual partners
- If you plan to have sex with a new partner
- If you are pregnant
- If you are planning to start a family
- If you have been forced into having sexual intercourse
Some STIs also have a ‘window period’, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This window period is the time in which a person acquired the infection but tests negative for the infection. This window period is variable and depends on the STI in question. This means that you may need to repeat the test, if you suspect that you have performed the test during the window period.
How to get tested for an STI and prevent infection?
Simply being sexually active will place you at risk of acquiring an STI. 100% prevention is only possible through abstinence, which is neither possible nor desirable for most of us. But you can greatly reduce your risk of getting infected again by making sure you use protection (such as condoms and dental dams) and/or staying in a monogamous relationship.
However, even the best precautions can fail. By making sure that you get tested for STIs, you protect yourself and your loved ones from facing the complications that arise from STIs. STI detection can be performed in the convenience of your home with our testing kits. Our range of STD Rapid Test Kits are quick (results in 15 minutes!), safe, accurate, and easy to use. They provide a reliable and accurate result (>99% clinical accuracy), and have been tested by certified laboratories worldwide. They have also been awarded with ISO13485 and GMP certifications. Depending on the STI, either blood (which can be obtained through a finger prick), or cotton swab is used for detecting infection. Our Combo Packs are also available if you wish to test for multiple STIs, especially since STI co-infection is quite common. All our STD test kits are come with discreet worldwide shipping and billing, for your peace of mind.
Please keep in mind that testing is only the first step to protecting yourself from STIs. If you test positive, you must be sure to follow up on the result by seeking advice from a physician and obtaining the appropriate treatment. You should also refrain from having sex until you are advised by your medical provider that it is safe for you and your partner(s) to do so.