STD facts young adults in Singapore need to know about

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Posted on: 15 Dec 2023

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a pressing concern globally, affecting individuals from all walks of life. In Singapore, the issue is particularly relevant among young adults who may have multiple partners. Understanding and addressing the realities of STDs is important for fostering a healthier, more informed society. By fostering open conversations and providing more access to information about STDs, more people will take charge of their sexual health and seek medical support sooner rather than later.

What are STDs?

Generally, men and women have varying sexual health issues. However, one issue they do have in common is the risk of contracting STDs.

Sexually transmitted diseases, commonly known as STDs or STIs (sexually transmitted infections), are infections that spread from person to person through sexual contact. They can be transmitted through anal, vaginal or oral sex, as well as the sharing of needles with an infected person. They can be due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites and present a wide range of symptoms. In some cases, they may even remain asymptomatic, making detection challenging.

Common types of STDs in Singapore

According to the National University of Singapore, these are the common STDs that affect individuals in Singapore:

Chlamydia

This condition is a result of a bacterial infection that can affect both men and women. Chlamydia is often asymptomatic, making it challenging to detect without testing. When symptoms of this STD do occur, they may include pain during urination, abdominal pain, and unusual discharge. If left untreated, chlamydia may progress into serious health complications, like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is another STD caused by bacterial infection. It can affect different parts of the body, such as the genital tract, rectum, and throat. Symptoms may include painful urination, genital discharge, and, in some cases, rectal discomfort. Untreated gonorrhoea can lead to severe complications, including infertility and an increased risk of HIV transmission.

Syphilis

Syphilis is also considered a bacterial infection, which progresses through stages, each presenting distinct symptoms. The initial stage often manifests as painless sores, followed by a rash in later stages. Syphilis can have serious consequences if not treated, affecting the heart, brain, and other organs. Early detection through testing is essential for effective treatment.

Genital Warts – caused by strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

This type of STD is caused by certain strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). These warts can appear on the genital and anal areas and are highly contagious. Some HPV strains are also linked to the development of cervical and other cancers. Vaccination against HPV is available and recommended for both males and females to prevent infection.

Genital herpes – caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Genital herpes is characterised by painful sores or blisters on the genital and anal areas caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). The virus can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Though there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications are available to help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission.

HIV / AIDs

HIV/AIDS remains a global health concern, and Singapore is no exception. As HIV weakens the immune system, this makes affected individuals more prone to infectious diseases. Early detection through testing is crucial for initiating antiretroviral therapy, which helps manage the virus and improve life expectancy. Education and prevention efforts, including the use of condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), play a vital role in controlling HIV transmission.

Factors that contribute to the spread of STDs

Knowing the contributing factors that cause the spread of STDs is vital to help address these issues to promote better sexual health and overall health in the community.

Lack of awareness

Limited knowledge about sexual health and STDs can contribute to risky behaviours and the unintentional spread of infections. For young adults, being informed about their sexual health and safe sex practices is essential to avoid or minimise the risk of STDs. Consulting a healthcare professional during women’s or men’s health check-ups allows you to gain insight and gives you an opportunity to discuss your sexual health.

Stigma and shame

The prevailing stigma associated with STDs often acts as a barrier to open discussions about sexual health, preventing individuals, especially young adults, from seeking timely information and support. It’s essential to recognise the fact that STDs are not a reflection of one’s character or morality but rather a public health concern that can affect anyone engaging in sexual activity. As such, allow yourself to be more open about your sexual health, especially to your healthcare professional. Remember, your doctor is medically trained and will have helped many patients with their sexual health and wellness.

Incorrect use of contraceptives

An additional factor contributing to the spread of STDs is the incorrect use of contraceptives. Condoms remain your best protection against STDs. Inconsistent or improper use of condoms and other forms of contraception can compromise their efficacy, increasing the risk of transmission during sexual activity. Education on the proper usage of contraceptives, including condoms, is essential for individuals and couples alike. This knowledge not only enhances protection against unwanted pregnancies but also acts as a crucial preventive measure against the transmission of STDs.

Importance of STD testing and sexual health check-ups

Regular STD testing and sexual health check-ups are fundamental components of maintaining overall well-being. It can help with early detection, which will then ensure prompt treatment, preventing the progression of infections and potential complications. Moreover, you can take preventive measures, such as practising safe sex and informing sexual partners, reducing the risk of further transmission. Remember, choose a trusted doctor to visit, and there is no need to feel embarrassed.

Overall, regular health tests and check-ups at a men’s and women’s sexual health clinic provide peace of mind, and health outcomes are better the sooner you start treatment.

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