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Updated 02 June 2015

Past sexual indiscretions

You may be happily married now, with a few children to boot, but in your far-flung long distant past, there may have been a few names or faces you cannot remember.

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You may be happily married now, with a few children to boot, but in your far-flung long distant past, there may have been a few wild nights, a few indiscretions, a few names or faces you cannot remember.

You have more or less forgotten most of the above, but the consequences might still be lurking in your body. Not a very comforting thought, but it might be true – for both men and women. There is a correlation between the number of partners you have had and your chances of contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infections). You must always remember that condoms do not provide complete protection against STIs.

Mostly, if you have contracted an STI, you will know fairly quickly. Discharges, burning or itching are usually dead giveaways.

But there are those whose symptoms are not very obvious. Almost 85 percent of women and 40 percent of men who have chlamydia have no symptoms at all. Also, 80 percent of people with genital herpes are unaware of this and also of the fact that it makes them more susceptible to contracting HIV. The most common STI is the human papillovirus. It causes genital warts, but not in everyone, so you could be unaware that you are carrying this. Then of course there is hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

These STIs can have long term consequences, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pain, infertility or ectopic pregnancy.

What can you do now?

  • Consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine and keep using condoms.
  • Women should get regular pap smears.
  • Men and women should ask to be tested for any STIs.
  • Antibiotics should get rid of both chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
  • Anti-viral drugs can reduce the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.

- (Health24, updated 2008)

Read more:
Changing face of gonorrhoea
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