SEX AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES: HOW TO FIND STD?

Finding out about an STD can be a double whammy. A married woman in her forties found out she had trichomonas after she developed a vaginal discharge that smelt like old socks. As her only partner was her husband she put two and two together. ‘We had a huge scene at home. I told him there was no point denying it because there was only one way I could have picked this up. I was so furious that he could have put me at risk like this. He didn’t even have the sense to wear a condom with her. It took me months to get over my anger with him for the other woman … and the infection.’ This particular situation is one that needs a closer look. Obviously, apart from celibacy, the next safest situation is for both partners to be monogamous.

But it’s not enough to silently hope that your partner, no matter how committed they may be to the relationship, will never have a sexual encounter with another person. If you look at the statistics, the truth of the matter is that the majority of married men and women will have an extramarital liaison at some time. Denying this reality or just refusing to acknowledge it or talk about it leaves far too much to chance. Some therapists argue that it is not necessarily the affair itself, but the exposure of the affair or the fear of what it might do to the relationship that actually does the damage. The feeling of betrayal and loss of trust that follow can tear a relationship apart. Catching an STD and then having to tell your primary partner is a sure way of exposing an extracurricular relationship, and it can be devastating.

However, the discovery of an STD may have nothing to do with infidelity, so it’s essential to have your facts right before you pick up the phone to call your lawyer. (For that matter call a counsellor before you call a lawyer.) Find out all you can about the infection. Take chlamydia for example. By the 1980s it had become the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in North America, Europe and Australia, so its impact has been widespread. Chlamydia is one infection that can lay dormant for years before it is detected, so even though it may be found on a test today it may have been the result of a sexual contact some years before. It can go on causing damage for all that time with no symptoms at all, until it ultimately leads to infertility in both men and women.

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