Having an active sex life comes with both pros and cons. It helps keep your stress levels down, and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems. However, it also exposes you to various sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, which can bring about serious complications if not detected and treated right away. For this reason, it is extremely important that you undergo STD testing.
Should You Get Tested For STDs?
You have to get an STD test if at least one of the following things applies to you:
- you are entering a sexual relationship with a new partner
- you are in a long-term relationship with one partner
- you have multiple sexual partners
- your partner has other sexual partners
- you are manifesting common STD symptoms
Even though you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, you and your partner are still encouraged to take an STD test. Some of these diseases can remain dormant for a long time and not trigger visible symptoms for months or even years.
What STDs are Common in Men?
An STD that strikes more than 800,000 men and women in the United States every year, according to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea is a type of sexually transmitted disease that is common among men.
If you get infected with it, you may not likely show symptoms for a period of time. And, when the symptoms finally show up, you will notice green, yellow, or white discharge coming from your urethra; experience painful sensations in your testicles or scrotum; notice redness or swelling on the tip of your penis; get a sore throat; and feel the urge to urinate more times than usual.
Another common STD in men in the USA, Chlamydia is caused by a type of bacteria that can infect not only the penis, urethra, and anus, but also the eyes. It is very easily passed on from one individual to another through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The bacteria can also get into the eyes if they come into contact with a body part, like a hand, that contains some amount of Chlamydia-infected bodily secretions.
If you have contracted Chlamydia, you may not show signs and symptoms in the beginning. Usually, it takes between 1 and 3 weeks after initial exposure to the infection for the symptoms to appear. Some of the common ones that men experience include a burning sensation when urinating; swelling and pain in the testicular area; milky or clear discharge coming from the penis; bleeding or mucus discharge from the rectum; itchiness in the anus; and redness and irritation of the eyes.
Caused by a virus known as the herpes simplex virus, or HSV, genital herpes is one of the most common STDs that affect men. In many cases, those who have contracted this infection do not know that they have it because it triggers only mild or almost unnoticeable symptoms, and, sometimes, none at all.
If you have sex with someone who has genital herpes, the initial symptoms may appear in the next few days or two weeks. Or, they may even take much longer than that, probably several months or even years. They are typically tiny blisters and sores around the genital and rectal areas that will eventually clear after a few weeks. And, frequently, they are accompanied by fever, headaches, back pains, and fatigue.
Primarily transmitted through unprotected sex, syphilis is a very common, contagious STD that is caused by bacteria called Treponema pallidum. It occurs in four stages that come with various signs and symptoms that increasingly become worse as the infection remains untreated.
Normally, the earliest indication of a syphilis infection is the swelling of the lymph nodes around your groin region. It should manifest around 10 to 90 days after your exposure to the bacteria. It is followed by a small sore, called a “chancre”, which may grow unnoticed inside your anus, and disappear on its own after a few weeks. Then, more symptoms start rushing in, which include sores in your mouth, muscle aches, headaches, weight loss, and hair loss.
How are STDs Treated?
After you test positive for an STD, your doctor should know what the best treatment there is for your infection.
Because Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea are bacterial infections, their treatment plans include antibiotics that you have to take orally or via injection. In the case of genital herpes, you will be introduced to antiviral drugs that suppress outbreaks.
What Happens If You Do Not Get STD Tested?
Failure to get an STD test can lead to severe complications that can cause drastic changes in your health and lifestyle.
If you have syphilis and enter the tertiary or final stage of the infection without getting any treatment, you are at risk of brain and neurological disorders, blindness, aneurysm, dementia, and permanent organ damage.
If your gonorrhea remains untreated, the infection can spread to your blood and result to disseminated gonococcal infection, or DGI, which is a life threatening disease. It can also lead to infertility.
If you have been infected with Chlamydia and you fail to detect and treat it, you are likely to develop urethral infections and testicular complications.
If you have genital herpes, you better get tested and treated as soon as possible to avoid fertility problems.
How Do You Stay Protected Against STDs?
To keep yourself free of STDs, you should:
- Practice safe sex. Use latex condoms every time you engage in sexual activities.
- Watch your drug or alcohol intake. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can be quite challenging to make sound decisions when having sex. You may forget to wear a condom.
- Undergo STD testing. If you are sexually active, you should get an STD test regularly. Convince your partner to go with you so that you can both be sure that the two of you are clean.