Let’s be real: talking about STIs isn’t anyone's favorite topic. But why? Much of the hesitancy to speak openly about STIs comes from the shame and stigma that has been created through cultural rhetoric. Everything from the perpetuation of ‘purity culture,’ to the concept of virginity and of course the often social judgements that surrounds STIs (ie ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’) instigate shame and stigma that further exacerbate inaccuracies and misinformation around STI's.
Having open and honest conversations about STIs is the best way to start normalizing them, ultimately leading us to happier, healthier, and safer sex lives.
STIs are far more common than you might expect. In fact, it’s estimated that over half the population of the US will contract an STI at some point in their lifetime. So let’s break down some of the most common STIs, what they are, how we can spot them, and the best ways to treat them.
So take a deep breath and settle in, because we’re about to do a deep drive into STIs.
What is it?
Chlamydia is the most reported (to local health departments) STD in the United States. It’s a bacterial infections that can be spread through having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a partner who has chlamydia. Once contracted, individuals may not start experiencing symptoms until weeks or months after and it’s possible to never experience symptoms at all. However, even if no symptoms occur, long-term Chlamydia can cause serious health problems such as: formation of scar tissue along the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancies, and infertility.
Strong smelling yellow or green discharge
Burning during urination
Pain during intercourse
Swelling and/or irritation of genitals
There are medications that can be taken to treat Chlamydia.However, these medications do not prevent you from contracting the infection in the future.
*Always speak with your medical provider before taking any medication and to decide which treatments are best for you.
What is it?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that thrives in moist, warm areas of the body such as: the eyes, throat, vagina, anus, female reproductive tract. This bacterial infection can be spread via sexual intercourse, kissing, or mother-to-baby. Much like Chlamydia, many people who contract Gonorrhea do not experience detectable symptoms, so getting regular STI tests is very important. If left untreated, Gonorrhea could possibly lead to fertility issues, and Pelvic Inflammatory.
Whiteish, yellow, or green vaginal discharge
Pain while urinating
Swelling of lymph nodes in neck (if contracted orally)
Spotting between periods
Swelling and irritation of genitals
Much like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea can be treated with a round of antibiotics. However, taking antibiotics for an active infection does not prevent you from contracting the infection again.
What is it?
Unlike Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection (not bacterial) and is caused by the parasite Trichomonas Vaginalis. The parasite is passed via genital-to-genital contact. Currently, The time between contracting the parasite and the active infection (aka incubation period) is unknown, but the parasite is spreadable once contracted. Oftentimes, individuals with trichomoniasis do not experience detectable symptoms. Importantly, if left untreated, Trichomoniasis can cause serious problems for pregnant individuals such as: low birth weight and premature delivery. That’s why STI testing is important, even during pregnancy.
Whiteish, yellowish, or greenish and strong smelling vaginal discharge
Pain while urinating
Swelling, redness, burning, and irritation of the genitals
“Trich” is known to be the most commonly curable STI. Oral medications can be prescribed by your doctor and is (oftentimes) safe for pregnant people.
*If pregnant, always consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication.
Herpes (1 + 2)
What is it?
Herpes is a very common viral infection. There are two kinds of herpes infections: HSV-1 (aka oral herpes) and HSV-2 (aka genital herpes). HSV-1 affects the mouth and presents itself in the form of tiny blisters commonly called ‘cold sores.’ Although HSV-1 primarily exists in the mouth, it can be spread from mouth to genitals via oral sex. HSV-2 exists on the genitals and can cause tiny fluid-filled blisters to appear around the vulva, penis, or anus. Unlike the above infections, Herpes (both 1 and 2) is a viral infection that can lay dormant in the body for long periods of time and might not cause any outbreaks at all. Due to the high rate of asymptomatic individuals, getting regular STI tests is very important.
Tiny, fluid filled blisters around genitals or mouth (depending on strain)
Pain and burning durning urination and sex
Tingling around mouth or genitals (depending on strain)
Currently there is no cure for HSV-1 or HSV-2. However, there are medications that can be taken to suppress the virus and cut down on outbreaks. There are also topical ointments and medications that can be applied to active outbreaks to reduce pain and shorten outbreak duration.
What is it?
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is (primarily) spread through sexual contact. The bacteria enters the body through an opening in the skin that then turns into a small sore called a ‘chancre.’ After the initial exposure the infection can lay dormant in the body for long periods of time without causing any symptoms and could never present active symptoms at all. However, long-stage Syphilis (in severe cases) can lead to damage to the eyes, heart, brain, and even nervous system.
Painless sore(s) around the genitals or mouth
Rashes around different parts of the body
Swollen lymph nodes
There are medications that doctors can prescribe to treat Syphilis. Multiple rounds of medication may need to be taken depending on how long the infection has been in the body.
*Note: Always consult a medical professional if you experience any of the symptoms above. As stated, many STIs can go unnoticed and are ‘asymptomatic’ in many individuals. So getting regularly tested is only way to truly know if you and your partners have an STI.
This is not an exhaustive list of all STIs and their characteristics.
General Discomfort and Irritation
Vulvovaginal irritation and general discomfort are major symptoms of many STIs and vulvovaginal infections. These symptoms can also occur from everyday activities such as: exercise, sex, and even wearing certain types of clothing. But no matter the source of the irritation and discomfort….it will always be frustrating. That’s why our products focus on using all-natural, gentle ingredients that are proven to soothe sensitive vulva skin and reduce symptoms of common vulvovaginal issues. Rather than temporarily masking symptoms, Momotaro Apotheca’s holistic approach looks to address the source of the problem and heal the body naturally.
Soothe With Salve
Use our soothing salve instantly address vulvovaginal dryness, itching, and irritation.
Nourish and Restore With Tonic
Use Tonic as a spot treatment or in a hot bath to address discomfort and general irritation
Stay Balanced With Probiotic
Take Probiotic to protect, promote, and maintain a healthy gut, immune system, and vaginal microbiome.
Momotaro Apotheca and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Momotaro Apotheca is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition.