When you’re experiencing a moment of pleasure, it’s hard to think about the consequences. We’re not just referring to getting pregnant but also ending up with a sexually-transmitted infection that can cause severe discomfort.
The thing is that STIs happen primarily because of a lack or absence of precautions. In addition, many people are not aware of it but even oral sex can lead to the transmission of infections. Hence, it is extremely important to take care of your safety when you’re having sex.
The body takes time to familiarize itself to the pathogen. In medical terms, it is known as the incubation time. So, you might not notice any symptoms right in the beginning. In fact, some STIs can take weeks and months before you observe that anything is wrong. Hence, you’ve got to be extremely alert about any STI signs if you’re sexually active.
Causes: Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, it can spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. It’s possible for pregnant women to spread chlamydia to their children during delivery, causing pneumonia or serious eye infections.
Incubation period: 1 to 2 weeks
Causes: According to Dr Manisha Ranjan, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology at Motherhood Hospital, Noida, gonorrhoea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The bacteria get transferred during sexual activity.
Incubation period: Up to 2 weeks
“There are 2 types of herpes simplex virus infections that can cause genital herpes – HSV-1 and HSV-2. The virus dies quickly outside of the body, so it’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels or other objects used by an infected person,” explained Dr Ranjan.
Incubation period: 3 to 12 days
Causes: The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes warts. There are more than 40 strains of HPV that affect the genital area. Genital warts are almost always spread through sexual contact. Your warts don’t have to be visible for you to spread the infection to your sexual partner, and that’s a major cause of concern.
Incubation period: A month to a few years
Causes: “The cause of syphilis is a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. The most common route of transmission is through contact with an infected person’s sores during sexual activity. The bacteria enter your body through minor cuts or abrasions on your skin or mucous membranes. Syphilis is contagious during its primary and secondary stages, and sometimes in the early latent period,” explained Dr Ranjan.
Incubation period: A few weeks to a few years
Syphilis develops in stages, and symptoms vary with each stage. But, the stages may overlap, and symptoms don’t always occur in the same order. You may be infected with syphilis and not notice any symptoms for years.
Causes: It is a blood-borne, sexually transmissible virus (see the image below.) The virus is typically transmitted via sexual intercourse, shared intravenous drug paraphernalia, and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) which can occur during the birth process or during breastfeeding.
Incubation period: 2 weeks to a month
So, if you’re sexually active, make sure you’re practising safety and getting yourself checked regularly.