Condoms can be expensive, they can smell funny, and they can make sex less enjoyable. So don’t you think the reward we should receive for using them is the blissful peace of mind that they will keep us totally STD-free? That would be wonderful, but it’s not reality.
There are still plenty of STDs that you can contract even if you use a condom. Yes, even if you layer condoms (which is not smart). That’s why, if you don’t know your partners well, you should always ask about their history with STDs. If you want to be fully certain, you can ask for a print out of their most recent test results. If they won’t provide them or are indignant that you would even ask, then they probably don’t deserve to sleep with you now do they? Here are five STDs you can contract even if you use a condom.
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The STD: Human Papillomavirus
Human Papillomavirus is one of the most common STDs out there. As of 2013, there were 79 million reported cases of it in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC). What makes it so common? It isn’t passed through fluids like more severe STDs, but rather just through skin-on-skin contact. There are thousands of strains of the virus, some are mild and never manifest themselves, some cause warts, and some can cause cancer.
As a woman, you should be going in for your regular pap smears, which could be anywhere from every six months to only every few years depending on your age and medical history. If you are going in for these regularly, your doctor should catch your HPV in the form of irregular cells, long before they turn into cancer or warts. There is actually no HPV test for men, and it causes no symptoms in men which is one of the reasons it runs so rampant–many men never know they have it, and pass it along. That’s just one more reason, as a woman, you need to go in for your regular pap smears.
If you contract a strain that causes warts, your physician can prescribe you medication to control these. If your gyno finds precancerous cells or abnormal cells he believes to be severe, he may suggest further treatment or exams. You can read about these at CDC.gov
. In many cases, your doctor will find non-precancerous irregular cells, and just request you come in for more frequent pap smears until your cells return to normal for a prolonged period.
The STD: Genital Herpes
Herpes can affect the genitals, anus or upper thighs and results in sores or lesions. Genital Herpes is the name for Herpes when it affects your genital region. Herpes-related sores can exist on areas of one’s genitals that are not covered by a condom, like the area between a man’s penis and his anus, so it is possible for the virus to spread even with a condom.
Symptoms can range from mild itching and pain to small blisters and more severe ulcers. Many people don’t know they have genital herpes because their symptoms are very mild. As a woman, you should know that it is easier for men to transmit genital herpes to women than the other way around says Mayoclinic.org
There is not cure for genital herpes, but your doctor can prescribe you medication that can reduce the frequency of outbreaks, heal the sores quicker and reduce your chance of transferring the STD to somebody else.
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The STD: Syphilis
Syphilis can be contracted via skin to skin contact with a syphilis during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Syphilis is curable, but if left untreated can cause complications for your health. In the late stages of syphilis–which can take over a decade to develop–one can suffer from blindness, paralysis, numbness and trouble with muscle coordination according to CDC.gov
Early symptoms of Syphilis typically include a small sore (or multiple sores) that resembles an ingrown hair. In the second stages of syphilis, one could experience rashes, headaches, weight loss, a sore throat or swollen lymph nodes. If any of the first or secondary stage symptoms occur, see a doctor immediately.
Syphilis can be cured by antibiotics. It is important to treat it in its early stages because medicine cannot undo any damage that the STD has already caused, such as loss of control over certain muscles or mild blindness.
The STD: Pubic Lice, Crabs
Pubic Lice or Crabs exist in pubic hair, so they can easily be transmitted even when a condom is in use.
Pubic Lice is rather easy to identify because you will experience a lot of itching and you will be able to see the actual lice.
Pubic Lice can be treated with an over the counter lice-killing lotion, according to Medicinenet.com
. You must also take precautions to thoroughly clean your home and linens to clear it of lice. If you take all the right steps, your lice should be gone in 2 to 3 weeks after taking treatment.
The STD: Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum Contagiosum is a skin condition that comes in the form of small lesions or growths on the body. These can occur anywhere, but when they occur on the genitals, they are considered an STD.
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Small sores that are pink or flesh-colored with a slightly concave appearance. The sores might itch or become swollen. In most cases they clear up on their own within 6 to 12 months but in some individuals they can take four years to disappear. However, it is recommended to see a doctor if you have these symptoms in your genital area, as they are often a sign that you have another STD.
Treatment might range from having a physician surgically remove or freeze off the lesions, to topical creams to interferon therapy. You can read more about your risk, and the best line of treatment, at CDCgov.