Your Honest-to-God Guide to STDs

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Establishing-the-Architecture-of-HIV-2Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re scared by the idea of catching some sort of STD. Or at least you have been in the past. That night you got drunk and didn’t have a condom but went for it anyway. Or the guy you hooked up with who had a reputation for sleeping with every third girl in the phone book.

Perhaps you freaked out and rushed to get tested the next morning. Maybe you started Googling around frantically to convince yourself that you’re OK, only to find horrifying images and statistics about how people lost internal organs, limbs and never, ever had sex again because they were so hideously deformed by some pesky infection… Your mind begins racing, your liver DOES hurt you think to yourself. It must be an early onset of AIDS. Obviously…

The unfortunate thing about STD “education” is that it focuses on very specific information: symptoms, treatments, and every worst-case scenario. Any real world experiences or likelihood is absent. Down-to-earth guidance on how this information should affect your behavior is usually glossed over — telling you to abstain from having sex (yeah right) and to use a condom (even though it doesn’t prevent everything).

As a result, people start getting paranoid and some serious social stigmas develop.

What’s never discussed is the actual prevalence of STD’s, the realistic chance of catching these STD’s or what the experience of catching them would be like.

I still remember the night a girl I was dating told me that she had HPV. I felt like I was going to vomit. I immediately imagined that my cock had morphed into a giant tumor, shooting pellets of cancer into girl’s cervixes. Or the time one of my best friends told me over the phone that he had what appeared to be a herpes breakout. I nearly cried for the guy. Holy shit. What was he going to do? No woman would ever date him again.

But as I learned more, got tested more, spoke to more doctors and did more research, I realized that the truth is STD’s are more complicated than previously assumed, and that getting many of them would be a far more benign experience than I ever imagined. For instance, there are over 100 strains of HPV, and only four of them lead to most cervical cancers in women, and that’s assuming it’s left untreated for a period of years or decades, and THAT is assuming she hasn’t already been vaccinated, and then even if she does get cervical cancer it’s very unlikely to be fatal. So what I assumed was my cancer-laden pee-shooter in my pants, actually had something like a 1/100 x 1/100 x 1/2 x 1/100 chance of actually killing a girl.

The more I’ve learned about STD’s, the more I’ve encouraged people to relax a little bit about them. I know that sounds crazy, but seriously, relax about them. Wear a condom. Get tested periodically. Stay away from the people with crack habits. Do that, and you’re going to be fine. Seriously.

For instance, the chance that any particular person has syphilis in the United States is about 1 out of 10,000. The chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is 1 out of 8,434, just to give you some perspective. And the difference is syphilis can be cured with a little penicillin, lightning can’t.

The reason most STD information is absolutely terrifying is because 1) terrifying information sells in the media and 2) religious nuts don’t want anybody to have fun.

We do a dismal job of sex education in our culture. And one product of ignorance is fear.

What I aim to do with this article is to break down the most common STD’s in the most realistic way possible. Statistics, symptoms and treatments are listed. Sources are included. But I’m also going to list a couple of other things that you won’t find anywhere else: 1) what the experience of actually contracting that STD would be like; and 2) how likely you are to catch each STD if you had rampant unprotected sex.

In fact, I’ve put together a statistic of my own for each STD: the RAW Score. The RAW Score is a rough estimation of the average amount of single Americans you would have to have unprotected vaginal sex with to contract that particular STD. For STD’s which are cured, I did this by taking the amount of reported cases per year, and then factoring it into the amount of single individuals in the US (approx. 98 million) to get a percentage of single individuals who contract said STD each year. For STD’s which are incurable, I simply take the percentage of the American population with that STD. I realize this method is ridiculous and flawed, but the numbers are so stark that it gets the point across nicely: you’re not likely to catch anything serious any time soon.

And finally, I will say this again and again: use fucking protection. Don’t be an idiot. Use protection, get tested regularly. And one more time, in case some people can’t read: USE PROTECTION, GET TESTED REGULARLY

Chlamydia

Living With It: Uncomfortable… especially when they stick a cotton swab up your peehole. Then you take some pills and it’s gone.
Curable: Yes (2-4 Weeks)
RAW Score: 37 Partners
Condom Protects: Yes

Chlamydia is a minor bacterial infection mostly transferred through intercourse. In men it’s uncomfortable and generally harmless. In women, there’s a very small chance that if untreated, it can cause some damage to her reproductive system.

Symptoms include it burning pee and your aching balls. Although 25% of men don’t experience symptoms. 70% of women will also not experience any symptoms, which actually makes it more dangerous for them (most doctors recommend women screen for chlamydia at least once a year).

Sources: 1, 2

Gonorrhea

Living With It: Painful. Hope for no pus. Then you take some pills and it’s gone.
Curable: Yes (within a month)
RAW Score 141 Partners
Condom Protects: Yes

Gonorrhea is Chlamydia’s big brother. In fact, the two often occur together. The difference is that gonorrhea can be transferred via any orifice: penis, vagina, anus, mouth. It often takes a few weeks for symptoms to show up, and it’s even more unpleasant to deal with.

The symptoms for gonorrhea include it hurting to piss, aching balls, swollen urethra, sore throat, and pus coming out of your genitals. Yes, that was pus coming out of your genitals.

Apparently there’s a new strain of gonorrhea which does not react to antibiotics. So this STD has made a bit of a comeback in terms of riskiness. Be careful.

Source: 1

Syphilis

Living With It: Itchy. Then 15 years later you go insane and kill yourself… (no, seriously.)
Curable: Yes
RAW Score About 10,000 Partners (no, that’s not a typo)
Condom Protects: No

The famous philosopher Nietzsche was a bit of a lush and had a fondness for prostitutes. Somewhere along the way, he contracted syphilis and his body began to wither from the inside out. Over the course of this torturous process, he famously proclaimed “God is dead” and slowly slipped into dementia and died.

Syphilis was the 19th century’s version of the AIDS epidemic. It was famously cured by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and it hasn’t been much of an issue since. Pretty much nobody gets syphilis anymore. In fact, in 2006, every reported case of syphilis in the United States came from only two cities (no, I don’t know which cities).

Syphilis plays itself out in stages. The first stage is you get bumps or breakouts, not dissimilar to herpes I imagine (forgive me for not looking up images.) This happens a few weeks after contracting the virus. From there, after a few months, you break out into rashes. These rashes go on for weeks or months and eventually subside. From there, the you have no symptoms. Then 15-20 years later your internal organs start bleeding, you lose control of your motor functions, and you start losing your mind.

So the moral of the story? Get tested sometime in the next 15 years. Oh, and don’t live in one of those two mystery cities.

Sources: 1

HPV (High-Risk Strains)

Living With It: A nuisance. A few years of awkward conversations. One painful operation for women.
Curable: No, but it typically leaves on its own after a few years. There is also a vaccine for women (get it!)
RAW Score: 50 Partners
Condom Protects: No

HPV is where things begin to get interesting. HPV is the latest STD freak-out in the media. If all you’ve heard is the few tidbits that get passed around, it sounds horrifying. Over 50% of the population gets it at some point, that it causes cancer, condoms don’t protect it, that warts are going to cover your face and you’re going to suffocate to death.

This is all true. OK, the warts on the face and suffocation part isn’t, but the rest is. But what’s more important is the information you DON’T hear. And here it is: there are over 100 strains of HPV. All except for about six of them are basically harmless. And all but two have no symptoms in men. Feeling a little better? Good, let’s keep going…

The two that cause symptoms in men cause genital warts. Warts sound terrible, but they’re completely harmless and can be removed within the matter of days with basic surgery (a few weeks to few months with a self-applicated chemical treatment). The other four high-risk strains can, if left untreated, lead to cervical cancer in women. New studies are also showing that oral sex with someone who has these strains can potentially lead to throat cancer down the road. But HPV throat cancer rates are still insanely low and the other rare type of cancers caused by HPV are insanely uncommon and almost never fatal.

The good news is that women are getting checked more and more for lesions on their cervix these days. Also, women who do get lesions can have a minor but painful procedure that prevents them from getting cervical cancer, so it’s nothing to freak out about. The HPV vaccine is being given to just about every girl under 26 in most states these days. And when you factor in that HPV usually leaves your body naturally after a few years (assuming you’re healthy) chances are this is going to be almost a non-issue 5-10 years from now.

If you’re sexually active, chances are you’ve already got at least one strain of HPV. But again, only six out of over 100 are considered high-risk, and you’re far less likely to have those. Unfortunately, most places are unable to test men for HPV. The only way you can know if you have it is if a girl you’re dating tells you, or if you happen to find a wart. Either way, it sucks, kind of ruins your week, causes a lot of awkward conversations… but you move on and everything ends up being fine.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Genital Herpes

Living With It: There’s a good chance you already have it.
Curable: No, but who cares?
RAW Score: 5 Partners
Condoms Protect: No

So I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that a shit-ton of people have herpes (including probably myself). The good news is that the vast majority of people never show symptoms and don’t have enough for it to show up in their blood levels.

I have to admit, Herpes was the big one I was terrified of getting (the reason I’m not worried about HIV is below). Then I started researching it for this article and realized I probably already have it. And chances are you have it too!

See, there are two types of Herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually causes breakouts around the mouth — we just call them cold sores or fever blisters. Over 80% of the population has HSV-1 although at any given time almost none of us have a break out. HSV-2 causes breakouts around the genitals. The majority of people never get breakouts or get such minor breakouts that they don’t even realize that it’s herpes. My friend who has had a breakout said that he originally thought his was just a bug bite. It wasn’t until a second one showed up that he decided to get it checked out. It’s been over three years and he hasn’t had another breakout since. He’s also in a monogamous relationship and his girlfriend has never had a break out.

Herpes never goes away, but it’s harmless. In fact, even if you do get breakouts, most people stop getting them after a couple years. And if you’re one of the unlucky few who actually does get a bad break out, you can take medication to suppress them. So there. Not worried about herpes anymore… After all, I probably already have it, and so do many of you.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

HIV

Living With It: Expensive and stressful, but assuming you’re not African, you’ll live.
Curable: No
RAW Score: 300 Partners
Condoms Protect: Yes

HIV is no longer the death warrant it once was. Don’t get me wrong, contracting it would be awful and surely life-altering. But you would live. I just hope you have good health insurance. As of 2011 the life expectancy of someone who contracts HIV is 40 years from the day they contract it. When in doubt, just look at Magic Johnson.

There are some demographics which are far more likely to catch HIV than others, primarily gay men and drug users. 80% of all HIV cases come from gay man sex or dirty needles. When it comes to vaginal sex, it’s almost impossible for a man to catch it from a woman, while a woman can catch it from a man. But anal sex seems to be the big culprit here.

Also, I hate to say it, but HIV positive cases are predominantly lower income classes. African-Americans account disproportionately for 42% of all HIV cases in the US. The disease practically doesn’t exist in Western Europe at this point. And as of 2013, we’re getting some very early accounts of people possibly being cured of the disease.

The symptoms of HIV are flu-like symptoms a couple weeks after contracting it. From there your immune system slowly shuts down over the period of years. There are a lot of therapies and treatments available and most people who contract it are able to live functional, normal lives, assuming they get the proper medical care. So the news on the HIV front over the past few decades has actually been mostly good.

But still, wear a damn condom.

Sources: 1, 2

Pregnancy

Living With It: Completely and irreversibly life-changing
Curable: Uhh… err…
RAW Score 100 sexual encounters
Condom 85% effective

Over the years I’ve had dozens of people ask me about STD’s, many of them looking for information, but many of them simply looking for reassurance that they were not going to shrivel up and die. I always tell them that 1) they’re going to be fine; and 2) they should be far more worried about babies. Notice the 1 in 100 times. That’s not 100 partners, that’s 100 occurrences of unprotected intercourse. That’s MUCH more likely than anything else listed here with the exception of Herpes.

I can tell you, in all of my years working as a dating coach, with all of my sexual partners, with all of the crazy hedonistic people I partied with, I’ve only known one person who had a herpes break out, a few people with HPV, and one person who had Chlamydia. I’ve never met or even heard of anyone who got HIV. I’ve never met or heard of anyone who got cervical cancer. I’ve never met or heard of anyone who contracted gonorrhea or syphilis. But I can think of probaby a dozen people who have dealt with unwanted pregnancy or had a major pregnancy scare.

Do not fuck around with this.

As a woman, welcome to the growing population of single mothers. Everything is about to change. If you’re lucky, the guy will stick around and help. But if he doesn’t, good luck. Not only do single mothers juggle some of the hardest responsibilities in society, but children of single mothers often grow up to have the most behavioral and academic problems.

If you’re a man and you don’t want to be a deadbeat and run off, then you’re not in for an easy time by any means either. Prepare to cough up half of your paycheck for the next 18 years, even if she marries someone else, even if she becomes financially self-sufficient and you’re broke. You have to pay. The paternity laws in many states are still heavily balanced in favor of mothers and so visitation rights, not to mention custody rights, can be hell to go through. If for some reason you and the mother don’t exactly get along, prepare to hire a good lawyer.

And even if the woman decides to not keep it, welcome to the most gut-wrenching experience of your life. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had to deal with a legitimate pregnancy, but I know people who have — staunch, hardcore, liberal, don’t-give-a-fuck party-goers — and shit gets real, real fast. It’s easy to walk around and say, “I would do this or that,” but when it comes time to walk the walk, many people can’t stomach it. Or even if they can, they live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

So if you don’t want to be a mommy or daddy, get contraception. If you don’t know or trust someone, use protection. If you’re sexually active, get tested regularly. Have open conversations with your sexual partners about this stuff: “Have you been tested? Are you on birth control?” Yes, it’s awkward. But yes, it’s always worth it.

Stay smart and stay safe.

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210 Comments

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  • Reply

    Lisa

    16 weeks ago

    I genetically inherited cold sores from my maternal grandmother. I started getting them when I was 4. My mother must be a carrier but never showed symptoms. Anyways, growing up and getting them every few months or so has caused me great anxiety and depression through my life. From kids pointing at them and saying we and running away, to high school when people saw them and laughed because they were a sign of being a disgusting slut. Well, I didn’t “catch” them, and I certainly didnt “catch” them from oral sex on a prostitude or anything dirty like that. Im just tired of society treating me that way. Countless tv shows from Jersey Shore to Family Guy have taking their punches at people with cold sores and convinced the world I’ve done something wrong in my life. I am middle age now and I still cry and stay home from work when I have one just to prevent the stares. I just wish people would understand that just because cold sores are gross looking, that doesn’t make me a gross person. I am clean, moral, and take very good care of my health. Anyways, just wanted to put my experience on here.

    • Reply

      Ashley Dempsey

      10 weeks ago

      Try Orajel Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment. I just spied it on Amazon for $10 or $20 at a grocers (I received a free sample… never would have tried it at that price). I had a cold sore coming on and knew it was going to be a bad one :( Applied the med at 9 pm and by 4 pm the next afternoon it was GONE. I still can’t believe it. It comes with 2 tubes of med but I only had to use one. Worth every penny imho! Good luck ♥

    • Reply

      Chad

      4 days ago

      I have simplex A that breaks out around my mouth maybe once every couple of years and usually as a result of stress. I’ve tried a ton of different things Abreva, Ambesol,etc. The best thing I’ve found is right here: http://www.coldsoresbegone.com/

      When I get that feeling that they are coming on I start wearing this stuff all day and too bed and I don’t even break out anymore! The best part is that it doesn’t have all of the white residue like Abreva does, it looks and feels like chapstick. Lifesaver.

  • Reply

    Ashley Brooke

    16 weeks ago

    I loved this article. Thank you.

  • Reply

    Lilly

    16 weeks ago

    For a woman, there is also another risk of STI to consider. The fallopian tube is not a dead end. The ends of the fallopian tubes open up into the peritoneal cavity where some of our major organs like our stomach and liver are housed. If a man transmits an STI to a woman, it’s possible for the infected semen to travel through the cervix, up the uterus, through the fallopian tubes and out into the peritoneum causing bacterial peritonitis. Bacterial peritonitis can cause abdominal scarring, blood infections and septic shock. So, while gonorrhea and chlamydia can easily be treated with antibiotics, more serious complications can potentially occur. No STI should be taken lightly.

  • Reply

    rich

    16 weeks ago

    I was terrified till I read this article

  • Reply

    Ashamed person

    14 weeks ago

    I am almost ashamed to write this. But, after ended a long term relationship after 10 years, I went out drinking with some buddies. On my way home I saw a massage parlor and heard stories about hand jobs and in my drunken stupidness I stumpled in thinking, “Let’s see if I actually get one.”

    We that was dumb because she put on a condom on me and had sex and I was too drunk to stop it.

    That was 3 week ago and I have seriously bean and emotional wreck and I can’t talk to anyone about it. I don’t know what is worse, the paralyizing fear that I have contracted something or intense shame I feal from such a dirty and miserable act. I seriously have no idea what I was thinking.

    The very next day I got an STD test, I didn’t know it at the time but learned while I was there, that it would be way too early anyway. But I got the test anyway and it was negative.

    Since the original event and immediate STD test afterwards, despite being negative, my life has been HELL. My arm started to really hurt after the blood test which had me paranoid but I was able to convince myself that brusing was normal when getting blood work down. But then I started having intense chest pains and at one point it got so bad I had to go to the emergency room. I had an EKG done on me and they did a blood test (through in an HIV test just because they offered even though I just had one done and new it would still be too early – this was now about 10 days since incident) – all came back okay and the doctor told me she thinks I just had inflamation around me lung – sent me home. I did not tell her about the sexual activity.

    Paranoia was still at it’s worse and 2 days later (on a Tuesday) the chest pains got bad again and I ran to the doctor (same place I got original STD test done). Doctor was not available but I was able to speak to a physicians assistant. He would not make any assurances except to say I was at a very low risk. I told him my partner was a VERY sexually active but did not have the courage to tell them it was a massage parlor situation. I was too ashamed. — ANyway, he told me that sometimes when a guy goes through a sexual experience that they extremely regret they can get chest pains or body aches like me.

    This started to make me feel a little better and I was fine for a bit.

    Then the paranoia came back. Every itch around my grown scares the absolute crap our of me and, oh yeah, my butt has been itchy for a week. I inspect my private parts maybe every 5 minutes (seems that way but like 4 times a day) and nothing really seems that adnormal (Today marks 3 weeks since incident().

    ANyway. I am scared and I feel alone because I can’t tell anyone what happened. I will get another STD test when it has been 1 month since encounter but even then, it will be too early to be sure about the worse things.

    This is having a huge impact on my social life and I can not focus at work and I know my boss is notcing my performance is lacking.

    I was hoping your article woul make me feel better and it helped but it sounds like this is just for encounters in a club or something and not for the shameful, upsetting act of having sex in a massage parlor. I am truly scared. What can I do. Only thing I remember for certain from that night was that she put a condom on me. I do not have any memory of her taking it off me so I don’t know if it fell off or broke but have been telling myself over and over that breakage is unlikely.

    • Reply

      MaxJ

      13 weeks ago

      Most escorts found in Massage Parlours are generally relatively clean (The street walker type generally isn’t)

      They equally do not want to catch anything and are generally very careful in terms of getting regular tests done and ensuring proper condom use.

      With a few exceptions the incidence of “serious” STDs are very similar to those found in the general population.

      It is incredible though what your mind can do in convincing yourself you have everything under the sun. Checking your private parts every 5 minutes will prob irritate them and make you check even more etc etc.

      Assuming you did indeed use a condom your chances of catching anything are extremely low.

      Relax you are almost definitely fine and as much as you are worried are low risk.

      Get checked again now to rule out the “urine ones” and if any do come back positive most are only a course of antibiotics away

      Then get checked in a few months to rule out “blood ones”. Now obviously HIV is what you are worried about (chances of syphilis are almost 0). If you check the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/risk.html) you will see the chance of gaining HIV from vaginal intercourse as a male is 1 in 2,000 (and that assumes that the lady is infected) couple that with the chance that she was infected (relatively low as well) and you will see the chances of your test coming back positive in a few months is very very low.

      But of course there is always a chance and you do need to get tested when the time is up.

      Good luck…. and stop worrying.

      Max

      • Reply

        Ashamed Person

        13 weeks ago

        Thank you so much man. I’ve been coming back here everyday hoping someone would respond and your comment made me feel a bit better.

        I was feeling better the other day, thought I had put this behind me as my penis area looks totally fine and it’s been about 4 weeks now. But the itch I described around my butt area has still not went away. Which has me worried. So I have to go back and get it looked at. I’m just not sure whether or not to go ASAP or to wait until it’s time for the second STD test (6 week mark).

        I guess I can go now and then again in 2 weeks like you said.

        Man… this has be one rough month…

        But thank you again for the response.

        • Reply

          Ashamed person 2

          12 weeks ago

          I just did the same thing he did kinda. Got drunk picked up a hooker/prostitute outside the strip club, used a condom for the whole blowjob except for maybe 10 secs when I wanted to play just the tip just for a sec lol. Then I even pulled out. Sorry If that’s was to much info. But as ashamed person 1 can tell you when you feel as terrible as this you just wanna make sure you didn’t just royally fuck up.
          I really enjoyed reading your story ap1 my experience was also with a minority not that matters but I think stat wise it does. Any advice or comments on my situation, bc it was mostly a bj and I pulled out does that change %

          • Faith

            3 weeks ago

            I was a little disappointed by your comment. Whenever they take these health surveys and polls, no one ever asks me about my weight, marriage status, economic status, or sexual practices, yet there are so many negative things out there that include my race but do not remotely apply to me. I feel like there is a nasty stereotype attached to me even though I am not poor, not obese, not on government assistance, not sexually active. In fact, I am currently pursuing my PhD. My theory is that certain lower-class segments of the race are used for these studies and they fail to include the statistics from middle class and abstinent minorities. I feel bad to rant, but your comment hurt my feelings and I just want the world to know that not every minority is a walking disease factory. A slutty woman of any race can give you an std. Morals and class always trumps race. Thank you

    • Reply

      Lucy

      13 weeks ago

      you need to chill out man.

      your anxiety is likely the cause of these “pains” and “itches” and torturing yourself with worry is a waste of time.

      take a deep breath, get your final round of testing if you want, and relax! If anything happens to show up positive, it’s not the end of the world and life will go on as normal. Promise.

    • Reply

      Cristina

      9 weeks ago

      Ashamed person I feel like you are in the exact same boat as me. I’m such a worrier and paranoid. I worry so much I trick my mind into thinking I have something. I usually turn out to be just fine. Stress can really take a toll on our bodies. The mind is a powerful thing. Sometimes I just wish mine was smarter.

  • Reply

    Matthew

    13 weeks ago

    I’m sitting in free government supported STI/STD clinic in Chicago. I learned that there is a HPV vaccine for men. Looks like a good idea to me. Check this out: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-and-men.htm?mobile=nocontent

    • Reply

      Mark

      13 weeks ago

      That’s great news. A few years ago Gardisil wasn’t prescribed to men in order to keep supplies for women.

  • Reply

    Allison

    13 weeks ago

    Cute article Mark!

    Now, back to reality….

  • Reply

    Cyn

    12 weeks ago

    Hey Mark. Your information is outdated. Not sure when this was published but the rates of Syph. Is at a all time high. And its crossing from predominately gay men to the hetro community. And yes, you can get HIV and live a long time, but most of the deaths are from complications from other illnesses that your weakend immune sstem cant defend against like Pneumonia. You also left out a few others like NGO and PID.

  • Reply

    Pandora

    12 weeks ago

    This article is amazing. Thank you <3

  • Reply

    Bhakti

    11 weeks ago

    I simply have to… Aphthous stomatitis, aka CANKER SORES,

    “The cause is not completely understood, but the condition involves a T cell-mediated immune response which is triggered by a variety of factors. Individuals vary in their observed triggers, which may include nutritional deficiencies, local trauma, stress, hormonal influences, allergies, a genetic predisposition and other factors.”

    “There is no cure, and treatments aim to manage pain, promote healing and reduce the frequency of episodes of ulceration.”

    What I understand canker sores to be from many studies, its the body’s immune response to a foreign invasion. Get a scratch on the inside of the mouth and the body, instead of healing it, will attack it until nerves are expose causing serve pain. The mucus membrane of the mouth quickly heals, faster then, say, outside skin. So, the question would be, why would the body attack that area? I have had doctors tell me because its tied into the digestion and that is the beginning of the digestion.

    If professionals do not know what causes canker sores. Canker sores are thought to be inherited and seem to run in my family. I discovered on my own how to heal them once and for all. Proper nutrition, a healthy gut (waste management), minimize stress with exercise, eliminating all sugar and other toxins. Poof, no more painful canker sores. And they say doctors don’t know what causes them or how to cure them. Ha!

  • Reply

    J

    11 weeks ago

    Herpes sores are also known as cold sores. Canker sores are something completely different (what Bhakti said).

    • Reply

      Mark

      11 weeks ago

      Fixed it. Thanks both of you.

  • Reply

    Iris

    10 weeks ago

    Three months ago, I came back home with a man I went out with on three dates. That single night we spent together, we had protected intercourse, but I gave him an unprotected blowjob. That was three months ago. 5 days ago, I was studying for my upcoming exam, when a panic attack suddenly hit me. I sarted telling myself that I contracted a STD, and that my life would be ruined forever because of this very silly and unworthy encounter with that guy. So on thursday morning, I went to get an STD test. I might get the results on monday (or tuesday, or wednesday…). I know the risk of contracting HIV while having oral sex is low, but the risk still exists. This is the worst week I have ever gone through in my whole life.
    Always have protected sex, even during oral sex. Taking risks really isn’t worth it.

  • Reply

    Tyson

    10 weeks ago

    Hey Mark, thanks for this article!

    I just would like to ask a simple question. About six months ago, me and this girl were getting close (now we are still friends and talk every two or three days), she is a mother of two children, her last one being born in I think about January 2013 (she is 19 and I am 18) and I believe pregnant women are tested for STD’s. Well her and her boyfriend broke up because he cheated on her with another girl, and they may or may not have had sex after that. So he cheated on her in September of last year, and in November we got drunk and had sex. I couldn’t get an erection because of the rye, so I was 2.5-3.5 inches flaccid. Obviously it was unprotected, and I’m not circumcised. It went on for 10-15 minutes and she was wet, but she didn’t have a yeast infection and she wasn’t menstruating. I went and peed after, but I never finished up. Now I did some research and know I should calm down, and brought that up to her and she laughed because she was surprised that I actually think she could’ve given me something. She is trustworthy and would’ve told me but what if her ex gave her HIV and what are the chances of me getting it? Also, no one in this surrounding group of sex is gay or uses needles, and I was a virgin, plus this is in a town of 1500 people in Canada where no one is really dirty. Sorry for the huge paragraph, but I appreciate your time. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Mark

      10 weeks ago

      You’re being ridiculously paranoid.

  • Reply

    Jamel

    10 weeks ago

    First off want to say good article and helped me feel a little better.

    In December I had unprotected oral sex for like 3 minutes and told the girl to stop because I was just scared… I went to go get an std test the next day like an idiot not knowing nothing would show up

    Then like a month later started having pains in my penis, felt like something coming out (nothing did), would feel burning or itching and had a test 3 weeks after everything came back negative… Me and my girl got back together and had sex….

    Well the pains continued got tested again everything negative, she always gets tested and she came back negative as well… But my burning, pain after peeing and itch shock pains still persit and I’ve had a total of 5 studs tests… I don’t know what I could have or maybe the guilt that’s killing me….

    Any advice

    Jamel

  • Reply

    Bianca Rose Semprit

    10 weeks ago

    Hey please add this to your article, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html, it’s a pill that can be taken daily to prevent (92%) High Risk strains of HIV. I’m just saying, it’s worth people knowing that this pill (like birth control) is out there.

  • Reply

    shshha

    9 weeks ago

    Well last year my boyfriend of 10 years and i split up…i started fating a new man..and yea stupid of me started having unprotected sex…i thought he would be clean..since he was with the same girl for 3 years and they had a kid together..well 6 months later be breal up..now im back with my ex… and he says i smell and tast diff.i thought it was a yeast infection. But it keeps comming back..im scared…i have always had prob with yeast infection…but not with a smelly vag…..now i feel gross and dirty…..what could i have???? Its just like yeast infection..but hardly no distarge…only sometimes…mostly itchy. And smelly..also tast bad…i have no fever or flue symthems….and when i do have discarge its clear..but my urin is strong and cloudy…it does not hurt when i pee….please someome help…im making a aptm with my doc…im starting to think ots karma and i dererve it for being so stupid..unprotected sex is scary……

    • Reply

      Jenn

      8 weeks ago

      Yeast infections don’t work like that. A vagina normally has a balance of yeast and bacteria. Yeast infections, as well as bacterial vaginosis, are caused by that balance being thrown off. That can come from stress, dietary changes, certain soaps, wearing clothing that doesn’t allow for proper ventilation in that re gion…that sort of thing. You definitely want to go to a doctor, if possible, for a proper diagnosis, just to be safe, but there is no shame in a yeast infection. They happen. Hope all turns out ok.

  • Reply

    Chronic Hepatitis B (and Hep C)

    8 weeks ago

    Hi There… you forgot us. Also there are resistant strains of Gonhorrea out there now.

    Seriously, it’s better to be too worried about STD’s than not worried enough. A low chance of catching something is not the same thing as zero chance. People get unlucky. Don’t fuck around with this stuff.

    • Reply

      Yo Mark

      6 days ago

      Would love to see you address these, Mark. Maybe bring the whole post up-to-date?

  • Reply

    Lerato

    8 weeks ago

    I love your articles. Really I do. Including this one. Except….the part where you mentioned Africans. I’m African, so obviously (and I’m sure you would understand why) it kinda rubbed me up the wrong way. But I kept reading the rest of the article and enjoyed it. I’ve introduced my friends to aloda your articles too. They loved them just as much. And they’re all African.

    In future please just kinda bear that in mind and be a little more sensitive towards such? No matter how much I can agree with you that the state of our country’s medical assistance towards our own people has its own struggles…I’m still putting forward this friendly request. And I say in future coz I’ll continue reading your work. I love it. Its honest, humorous and genuine.

    Just a heads up…

    Thanks :-)

    • Reply

      Another African

      6 days ago

      Truth hurts. Truth doesn’t care about anybody’s feelings. Get over yourself.

  • Reply

    Kelly

    8 weeks ago

    Glad I’m not the only crazy worrier out there. I had unprotected oral sex with a co-worker 3 days ago. I’ve known him for 2 years and I trust him but I still can’t shake the worry. I was in a totally drunken state when it happened and I know it was an a$$hole move. I am utterly convinced that I now have HPV or something else and cannot wait until my doctor appt. in 2 weeks for a test. I can’t sleep, eat or engage in my normal daily routine out of fear. Sex is just not fun anymore.

  • Reply

    Alex

    6 weeks ago

    I have to say, this article has made it much easier for me to go through with my test. When I signed up to get tested for STDs, I was extremely anxious and nervous about what the results could be because, like you said, most people are ignorant of these diseases. I had no clue what I would do if I saw a positive on any of the eight tests. I’ve been thinking, my life would be over if I tested positive on anything. But now I can go into it with a little more confidence knowing that nothing is permanent, untreatable, or life threatening if given the attention it needs. So that paired with the fact that I was wearing a condom makes me even less fearful of what my results might be. Thank you for this article!

  • Reply

    Alma

    4 weeks ago

    Hi interesting article. You didn’t mention oral sex though. Most people aren’t dumb enough to have unprotected intercourse but I’ve never used dental dams or whatever you call them. Also condoms taste nasty – even the flavored ones!
    I wish you could mention the statics of getting stds from oral sex. Is it any less or any higher of a chance? I hooked up with this guy on Friday (now it’s Wednesday) and I’m having typical UTI symptoms. I usually have gotten UTIs after having sex but because it was a one night stand kind of thing I’m worried. Seeing the doctor later but please mention statistics from oral sex.

  • Reply

    Justin

    4 weeks ago

    My girlfriend told me she has hsv-2 herpes. I researched a lot about it and found out the chances are really low if i use protectio and when she doesn’t have a breakout. We had protected sex twice and she gave me oral sex. What are my chances (really) of catching herpes if i use protection? And can i still get it through oral sex if she only has Hsv-2?

    • Reply

      Alice

      3 weeks ago

      Hey Justin, I’ve had hsv2 for about five years and am pretty much an expert on the subject having to have played sex educator to a number of partners. Given that you’re a guy having sex with a girl (which lowers your risk from if the situation was the other way around) if the two of you avoid having sex whilst she has any symptoms the chances of you catching it even if you DON’T use protection are about 8% in a whole year of having sex. Add condoms and the risk reduces to about 4% in a whole year. Add antivirals and the risk is down to 2%… this research was done by valtrex the company who have a vested interest in scaring people into taking the antivirals and even they couldn’t make the figures large enough to be too scary. The other thing a lot of people don’t think about is that somewhere in the vicinity of 75% the population are carriers of one or both strains of hsv. Which means that while 1 in 6 people have genital hsv, 3 out 4 people have the ability to transmit genital hsv. But keep it in perspective that 80% of people who have hsv genitally never realise because they don’t show any symptoms. I think it’s worth considering going and asking for a specific blood check of your own to find out your own hsv status. Most people don’t realise that it’s not included on standard STD screens (for the very reason that its so common and harmless) once you know your own status it makes calculating the risk you’re taking with her a little easier. As for oral – if your girlfriend has hsv2 genitally you can’t catch it from receiving oral sex from her. It’s technically possible to catch hsv2 orally if you’re giving her oral but it’s very very uncommon for people to catch hsv2 orally. Partly because hsv2 has a much stronger site preference for the genitals (whereas hsv1 is happy to site itself either orally or genitally) but also because the vast majority of people already have hsv1 orally – cold sores – having one strain is believed to give a reasonable (although not total) degree of immunity against the other strain. I absolutely understand that it seems scary because the stigma surrounding it is massive. But in reality it’s a very common and harmless condition for which the vast majority of carriers never show any symptoms. It’s also worth keeping in mind that your girlfriend is honest and brave enough to disclose her situation, not everyone is.

  • Reply

    james

    3 weeks ago

    I can’t tell you how calming this article is. Honestly whenever I have sex and I itch or have a weird feeling, I immediately blame an STD. This article reminds me to calm down.

    I was thinking, it may be a good addition to add in how long it takes (typically) for symptoms to show. Like how “Initial Herpes” shows up 2 to 20 days later typically? That’s another confusing aspect of STD’s, is how long it takes for symptoms to show up, and how long after getting infected you have to wait for it to show up. You provide the resources to figure it out, it’d just be nice to see that information with your summary/analysis!

  • Reply

    Tyson

    2 weeks ago

    Hey Mark it’s me again. I’ve decided to quit running and go give a urine and blood sample to test for anything. I also just found out I had the Hep B vaccination when I was about ten. My brother told me I’m being an asshole for assuming the girl was lying and her close friend told me she’s not the type to lie about that sort of stuff, I also told her I’m going to get tested and she said “you’re really back to the STD thing? -.-” and she told me she was tested in March with nothing, and our encounter was November. My test will be sometime this week. Like I said I haven’t had any symptoms of anything whatsoever and she got mildly insulted when I kept asking her. Do you think my chances are pretty good at being clean? Thanks Mark! Also I’m hopping aboard the no porn, less masturbation crew!

  • Reply

    Ashley

    2 weeks ago

    I’m not sure if you’ll ever really have time or care to read my long comment but I just want to say, I’m generally a very caring person and worry most of the damn time. Even so, I had made rash decisions in my past and even now, carelessly not being cautious in taking STD tests on a regular bases or using protection. I’ve had sexual contact with 14 guys, in a time span of 12 years. I was tested pos for one of the less serious hpv’s and I’m unsure but I guess at that time for other STDs too, which were neg, last year. Anyway, I was not cautious of my actions and didn’t look at signs the way I should have. Now I’m terrified I have something and given it to my current boyfriend who I fell seriously in love with. I see death in front of me, thinking that I have had some mild signs of HIV and herpes off and on in the past 7 months. Which I thought to myself were due to something else. The last guy I had sexual relations with had some things that were odd but reasonably explained to be nothing serious, but then when I felt he and I weren’t good for each other, after having unprotected sex after a few weeks or a month or two he tells me he thinks he has AIDs. Then I was like, ” Wait, you think you have AIDs? Do you have AIDs?” He told me then that he doesn’t. Even so, that scares me. From what I remember, he had some rashes or red marks on his back and chest, nothing horrible. Also, dry scalp and dry skin on his face sometimes. I thought it was due to the meds he was on for depression or the skin conditions he mentioned when I said something to him about it. But now I wonder if he actually does have AIDs and Herpes. One day I was hanging out with him and he whipped it out and I kinda thought I saw a red spot on his shaft, then he put it away. I was too scared to mention anything due to his depression and his house full of weapons. I feel a little bit better after reading your article of research but even then I feel death over my head. A life change for the worse, not only for myself, but for hundreds of others who love me and I them. It would all be because of my stupidity of human instincts of sexual urge. I’m scared to even take a test to find out, yet I want to so I can get the worry off my mind. I’m at a stale mate, it’s like a quadruple edge sword. But I thank you greatly for reducing my stress a good bit. I did cry through treading the whole article, due to feeling scared and happy I’m not alone in being worried and having the knowledge now.

  • Reply

    Emma S

    2 weeks ago

    I was so freaked out, like almost paranoia freaked out about STDs and STIs until I read this article. I am currently in the middle of reading this book about sex, and I think it got me sort of hyped up and super worried. I realize now the chances that I would have an STD or STI are pretty slim, and even if I did, it probably wouldn’t be life threatening. I have a test scheduled for next week, and by then, it will have been almost four weeks since the last time I had any form of sex, and this article has just helped me realize that whatever happens, it’s going to be okay. Thank you!

  • Reply

    Lillian B

    2 weeks ago

    Okay so I’m a teenager who was pulled into the “hooking up scene” because well I was stupid. I was with 4 guys, 3 unprotected and have given many unprotected blow jobs. My first sex partner slept with over six girls and he NEVER uses a condom. I’m scared that I might have gotten something from him. He told me he was clean, but I don’t believe him now that I see his “true colors”. It might all be in my head. I will go to my doctor to get tested and get the vaccine now that I have read this. I would really love some input from everyone. Maybe to tell me I’m over reacting or something to do. I’m scared to ask my first sex partner if he knows for sure he’s clean. It will scare my current bf and I don’t want to do that if it’s nothing serious.

  • Reply

    Michelle

    2 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for writing this article – really puts things into perspective!

  • Reply

    feeling alone

    1 week ago

    I enjoyed reading this article. It helped me to understand things better in my time of need but I am a chronic thinker & so… long story short, my question is… if most people already have herpes & they don’t even know it, what good does it do to get tested because then a good person would be obligated to tell their next potential partner & leave yourself open to being judged & look at disgustingly. I feel people don’t really want to know. especially if there are no signs or symptoms. Almost everyone paints themselves as decent, clean, normal human beings. I too have alot going for me but I carry this disease that I so unexpectingly got while dating someone I trusted. I recently opened up to a man in which we had a potential relationship & he just kept saying, he couldn’t move forward because the risk was too high for him (any risk). He too may already have it & not know but because I told him about me, I’m the nasty person. I hardly ever get a breakout & take a med & do anything to protect him.
    I already know he is a shallow, closed-minded individual but part of me says I will come across people like this again… everyone has it but nobody wants it… including me!!!!

  • Reply

    Ashley

    1 week ago

    Hello again. I have taken my STD test last Thursday. I have been scared for days now. I’ll be getting my results in a few days or so. I’m thinking I may not even answer the phone when they call me. I really wish everything is ok. I think to myself, what’s so much more important about me than others, for me to have the relief of not having HIV/AIDs or herpes simplex 2. I had a pap a month ago, and they tested for other curable STDs and I was clean. It’s funny that even though I am clean of other STDs doesn’t make me less susceptible to actually having HIV/AIDs or herpes 2. I have been praying to help ease my mind. Everyone I talked to about it that I trust told me I’ll be fine… But idk of I really will be if I’m pos. I know if I’m neg I will stress to everyone the importance to be safe! If I’m pos, well, I may no longer be here. I know HIV/AIDs aren’t a death sentence anymore themselves, but other things are.

  • Reply

    Nervous reck

    7 days ago

    I had protected sex with a guy a month ago I am going to get tested tomorrow because I had a yeast infection last week and it scared me to death because I usually never get them. I took the 3 day monistat and it went away but last week I shaved using a old razor that I had and now I’m irritated down there. I shaved my crack to and had the bright idea to wipe it with sea breeze to prevent bumps when the hair started growing back which was a bad idea now that the hair is growing back yesterday it started stinging. Now I’m scared as hell it’s not burning today and I keep on taking pics to see if I see anything is out of the ordinary but it’s no bumps but my throat started feeling scratchy today and I don’t know what to do I also asked the guy had he been tested and he said he did recently and we could go together if I wanted to but I don’t trust anyone and I google everything so I’m eventually going to think I’m having a heart attack because my anxiety is making it feel like I can’t breath right Lord help me

    • Reply

      John

      5 days ago

      If you had protected sex the most you could get are 2 curable stds or one that is incurable (herpes), but from what I gather you had sex once? I do not think there is to much to worry about… like most people worried about this you should probably see a doctor about OCD or anxiety… trust me I have the same thing… shaving your crack or anywhere has nothing to do with stds. so I think you need to check reality and know that you are quite safe especially since the guy is willing to go get checked with you. Hell take him up on it and then put your worry behind you.

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