SEXUAL HEALTH SHOCKERS
Sex has some very real, very serious health consequences -
including AIDS, STDs and pregnancy. Here, a roundup of what to
consider before you become sexually active.
STD ALERT - THE FIVE MOST COMMON TROUBLEMAKERS
If you notice symptoms of any of these sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs), see your doctor. If you're sexually active, you
should have gynecological checkups once a year, even if you're
not having health problems.
CONDYLOMA (Genital warts)
WHAT IT IS: A viral infection which, if left untreated, can lead
to the development of precancerous cells on the cervix (the
opening to the uterus).
SYMPTOMS: Painless bumps or wartlike growths in the genital
area. Girls can develop lesions in the cervix and the vagina
where you can't see them, so regular PAP smears (which can detect
the condyloma virus) are an absolute must. TREATMENT: Warts can
be either surgically removed, or frozen or burned off by a
WHAT IT IS: An incurable sexually transmitted virus.
SYMPTOMS: Painful ulcers in the genital area.
TREATMENT: There's no absolute cure, but oral medication can
prevent future ulcers from forming.
WHAT IT IS: A bacterial infection that can travel up into the
fallopian tubes and cause infertility.
SYMPTOMS: A foul-smelling discharge, although chlamydia
sometimes has no symptoms.
TREATMENT: A course of antibiotics.
WHAT IT IS: A disease caused by sexually transmitted bacteria
which, when allowed to spread unchecked, can eventually cause
infertility and arthritis.
SYMPTOMS: Pain on urination, a smelly discharge.
WHAT IT IS: A sexually transmitted disease that can damage the
central nervous system and cause blindness, brain damage and even
death if it isn't treated.
SYMPTOMS: Painless genital ulcers, and possible an all over skin
TREATMENT: Penicillin, administered intravenously or in pill
FIVE FACTS ABOUT AIDS
1. You can get AIDS from heterosexual sex.
While it may be easier to spread the disease through
homosexual encounters, heterosexuals are far from exempt.
Medical estimates indicate that there's a 20 to 60 percent
chance that a heterosexual guy who has AIDS will pass the
infection on to his steady sexual partner within two years,
according to John Lambert, M.D., assistant professor of
medicine and pediatrics of the division of infectious
diseases at the University of Rochester School of Medicine
in New York.
2. You can get AIDS the first time you have sex.
The more times you have unprotected sex (i.e., without a
condom) the greater the chance you'll contract HIV, the
virus responsible for AIDS. But there have been lots of
reports of women who got AIDS from just one encounter with
an infected partner.
3. You can get AIDS from your steady boyfriend.
Unless he's a virgin, your boyfriend could have contracted
the disease from any of his previous girlfriends. (There's
also an outside chance that he got AIDS from a blood
transfusion or a contaminated needle.) So keep in mind that
every time you sleep with a guy, you're "sleeping with"
every sexual partner he's ever had.
4. You're not too young and healthy to get sick.
"As far as we know, no one has a natural immunity to AIDS,
regardless of their age," says Dr. Lambert. In fact, 20
percent of people with AIDS contracted it as adolescents or
5. You can't tell if a guy has AIDS.
"It can take ten or more years to develop symptoms, so most
infected people look just like you and me," says Dr.
Lambert. But even though someone may appear totally
healthy, he can still pass the disease along.
SIX CRUCIAL PREGNANCY FACTS
1. You can get pregnant the first time you have sex.
If you've ovulating (i.e., an egg has been released by your
ovary and is waiting to be fertilized in your fallopian
tube) and you have sex, you can get pregnant - whether it's
your first time or your fiftieth.
2. You can get pregnant right before and after your period.
While it's more common to ovulate in the middle of your
cycle (your cycle begins on the first day of your period),
it's possible to release an egg at almost any time of the
month, particularly if you're young and your body hasn't
settled into its regular rhythms yet.
3. You can conceive when you're bleeding.
While you can't get pregnant when you're actually having
your period, young women tend to have erratic,
middle-of-the-month spotting that can be confused with a
full-fledged period. So you may think you've having your
period, have sex, and then get pregnant because it wasn't
really your period after all.
4. Standing up after intercourse doesn't prevent pregnancy.
Sperm are strong swimmers and can easily travel "upstream"
to fertilize an egg.
5. You can get pregnant when you're using birth control.
Unfortunately, there is a small failure rate associated with
all types of birth control. You can keep your odds of
conceiving to a minimum, however, by using whatever method
you choose consistently and correctly.
6. You can get pregnant if he "pulls out."
Some sperm do tend to leak out before ejaculation, so self-
restraint just isn't enough.
M-: MUST DOs M-:
M-: If you're going to have sex, you've M-:
M-: absolutely, positively got to... M-:
M-: 1. Use condoms to protect yourself M-:
M-: from AIDS and other STDs. They may M-:
M-: save your life. M-:
M-: 2. Use birth control. A condom by M-:
M-: itself isn't enough to keep you from M-:
M-: getting pregnant. Used alone, M-:
M-: condoms have a failure rate of 16 M-:
M-: percent. Used with spermicide, it's M-:
M-: estimated that the failure rate may M-:
M-: be as low as three percent. The M-:
M-: failure rate of the pill? 6 percent. M-:
M-: 3. Be prepared for the consequences. M-:
M-: No birth-control method is 100 M-:
M-: percent safe, so make sure you're M-:
M-: ready to deal with an unwanted M-:
M-: pregnancy. And wait until you're in M-:
M-: a solid relationship. Sex can ruin M-:
M-: an unsteady romance. M-:
(SOURCE: Article in Young and Modern, Dec. 1991 by Mary Garner
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