There seems to be a misconception about STDs in our culture. They're part of a taboo topic, something that shouldn't be spoken about. Some people believe that it could never happen to them, and others don't even know what they are. If the word STD makes you want to run and hide, this article is for you. I promise, the more educated you are on the topic, the safer you'll be.

What is an STD?

No, STD does not stand for "soon to die." Although STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) may sound scary, a lot of them are actually curable, and luckily, all are preventable. Another common name for an STD is an STI, otherwise known as a sexually transmitted infection. 

How are STDs Spread?

If you think that having vaginal intercourse is the only way you can get an STD, then I have some bad news for you. STDs can spread through vaginal fluids, semen, blood, and other bodily fluids. That means that oral and anal sex are definitely included in the STD spreading party. 

What are Common STDs?

To narrow it down, I will name the top five STDs: The Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, Bacterial Vaginosis, Gonorrhea, and good old Herpes. I have friends who have had at least two out of the five listed above. Each of these diseases does something a little different, so it's best to do your research. Although these are the most common, there are others out there like HIV/AIDS.

What Do I Do If I Think I Have an STD?

If you think you might have an STD, it is best to go to your gynecologist or school nurse and, if necessary, to tell a trusted friend, parent, or sibling. Some common signs are unusual discharge, itching and burning of the genitals, as well as painful urination. However, some STDs are asymptomatic (meaning they don't have symptoms), so getting routinely tested is highly recommended. 

How Can I Prevent Getting an STD?

First of all, Coach Carr, that's not true. Secondly, the point I am trying to get across is that abstinence is the only way to completely avoid contracting an STD. However, if that's not realistic for you, then I recommend using latex condoms, getting vaccinated, and making sure you and your partner both get tested before any kind of intercourse.