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Unsafe Sex and STIs: Weighing the Risks of Unprotected Sex

What Is Unsafe Sex?

Unsafe sex – also known as unprotected sex or high-risk sex – refers to sexual activities during which bodily fluids are exchanged between the two (or more) sexual partners. The bodily fluids in question here refer to semen, pre-ejaculation fluid [commonly known as pre-cum], vaginal fluid and blood.

Most people have the misconception that unsafe sex refers only to vaginal and anal intercourse without the use of condoms. Actually, there are risks of getting sexually-transmitted infections (STI) during unprotected oral sex as well, regardless whether the person is giving or receiving it. In addition, although early withdrawal of the sexual organ prior to ejaculation is practiced by some as a form of contraceptive measure, it is definitely not a form of safer sex.

What Are STIs?

STIs basically refer to those infections that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and close bodily contacts. These infections were more popularly known as sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases (VD) in the past.

The cause of the common STIs are as follows.

Bacteria:

  • Chancroid – Haemophilus ducreyi
  • Gonorrhoea – Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Granuloma inguinale – Calymmatobacteria granulomatis
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum – Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) – Chlamydia trachomatis, Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Syphilis – Treponema pallidum

Viruses:

  • Genital herpes – Herpes simplex virus Types 1 & 2
  • Genital warts – Human papilloma virus
  • HIV infection – Human immunodeficiency virus Types 1 & 2
  • Molluscum contagiosum – Molluscum contagiosum virus
  • Viral Hepatitis – Hepatitis A, B and C viruses

Fungi:

  • Vaginal candidiasis – Candida albicans

Protozoa:

  • Trichomoniasis – Trichomonas vaginalis

Parasites:

  • Pubic lice infestation – Pediculosis pubic
  • Scabies – Sarcoptes scabiei

Connection Between Unsafe Sex and STIs

The various STIs that can be transmitted through unsafe sexual practices are listed below.

Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse:

  • Chancroid
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • NGU
  • Pubic lice
  • Scabies
  • Syphilis
  • Vaginal candidiasis

Unprotected oral sex:

  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Hepatitis A
  • HIV
  • NGU
  • Syphilis

Do note that sometimes, a person who has contacted an STI(s) may not even exhibit any physical symptoms or signs, i.e. he/she has an asymptomatic infection. Hence, do not take for granted that protection is not required just because the other person looks healthy and does not exhibit any physical symptoms.

In addition, it should also be noted that having an STI(s) increases a person’s risk of HIV infection. This is because STIs that cause breaks in the skin – such as genital herpes and syphilis – make it easier for HIV to enter a person’s system. Even STIs that do not cause breaks in the skin can compromise a person’s immune system, making his/her body more susceptible to HIV infection. In order to protect oneself, do remember that it is always best to practise safer sex.

Check also: https://www.avert.org/hiv-transmission-prevention/unprotected-sex

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