You know the drill: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are usually spread through unprotected sex. As long as everything looks normal down there, you can assume you’re in the clear, right?
Not so fast. Some of the most common STDs often don’t show any symptoms but can do permanent damage to your health (not to mention love life) if they’re not treated early.
If any of these warning signs sound familiar, book it to your doctor’s office, pronto. The side effects of STDs can last a lifetime.
1. You Haven’t Been Tested
The two most common STDs passed around the military—chlamydia and gonorrhea—often have no symptoms. This means that many people don’t even know they are infected and may unknowingly spread the disease to their sexual partners. If these STDs go untreated, they can lead to infertility, pain during urination and ejaculation, and other significant health problems. Get tested at least once a year.
TRICARE offers free, confidential STD testing, treatment, and counseling at most military treatment facilities. Contact your medical health professional to set up an appointment. You can also get tested through your local public health department. Find the nearest STD testing center online.
2. You Didn’t Wear a Condom
Getting caught up in the moment without protection drastically increases your chances of getting an STD. STDs can lead to serious repercussions in your military career and health.
Soldiers who lie about a pre-existing STD and test positive for HPV, HIV, or untreated genital herpes may be disqualified from the military or passed up for a promotion.
Unprotected sex is a high stakes game you don’t want to play. The good news is wearing a condom cuts your risk of contracting an STD by up to 92 percent. Be smart—wrap it up. Learn how to use condoms correctly.
3. You Have Lots of Sexual Partners
If you enjoy keeping your options open in the bedroom, consider this: the more sexual partners you have, the greater the likelihood of getting an STD. Each person you sleep with brings their own sexual history to bed with you. That adds up fast if you have multiple sexual partners.
Opt for a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested (and treated, if necessary) for STDs to lower the risk of catching a love bug. Even if you have multiple partners, you can minimize the risk by having the STD talk with your current sexual partner.
If these warning signs describe your sex life, schedule an appointment to get tested.
If you’ve been tested, schedule annual screenings and use protection during every sexual encounter to lower your chances of catching an STD.
- Learn more about STD prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Adopt these five habits of safe sexperts to protect yourself from STDs.
- Scared she might be pregnant? Check out these five tips to help you through a pregnancy scare.