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Wellness

When It Comes To Sex, You Are What You Eat

Most of us are not used to thinking about our sexual health. However, a healthy diet and exercise habits can have a big impact on sexual health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that about 14 million women of childbearing age were pregnant in 2007, with about 50 million Americans having been pregnant in 2006, the latest year for which data are available. While these numbers suggest a large number of pregnancies, they are dwarfed by other reports concerning the safety and effectiveness of sex education. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has found that sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) — HIV, herpes, bacterial and viral STDs — have a substantial impact on the number of sexually active people in the United States. Between 15 and 50% of Americans are infected with at least one STD; some studies show that figure might be as high as 100%. It has been estimated that a third of sexually active women are infected with genital herpes. The cost of these infections is estimated to exceed $4 billion per year. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 gonorrhea infections, 40,000 chlamydia infections, 75,000 gonorrhea infections and 300,000 syphilis infections occur annually in the United States, or about 1.2 million per year. STD rates have been climbing steadily, and recent reports show that sexually transmitted diseases are now the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 15 and 49.

It is critical to understand why sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common in any community. The major contributors to a healthy sex life are healthy, sexually active couples that know how to enjoy sex; healthy information about sexually transmitted diseases; and healthy sex with positive role models of healthy sex and communication.

“Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common in American community.” But what does that mean?

A sexual partner is only one of the risk factors for an STD. Factors such as a compromised immune system, a history of certain health problems, drug use, pregnancy or breastfeeding also can increase your chances of a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, genital warts, HPV, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, etc. And STDs are spread even before you have sex.

The CDC states that most cases of nonfatal STDs are acquired through sexual contact with an STD-infected person. STDs can be prevented through healthy sexual behavior, with simple and inexpensive preventive behaviors. Preventing these diseases not only reduces the amount of STD-related risk to you, but reduces the number of people who contract an STD.

Prevention is not as difficult as just knowing how to have healthy sex. There are a variety of natural, chemical and surgical methods that can be used to treat any STD, including chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea.

These natural, chemical and surgical methods are discussed below. You can have a natural sex life, avoid STDs or prevent them at anytime. However, you’re best prepared if you know your STD history before sexual activity. The best way to protect yourself, your partner and your babies is to know what you are exposed to at every point of your sexual development.

There are a number of easy steps to taking an STI screening. Talk to your health care provider about your STI history and plan ahead for a test appointment at the same time.

STISPOT — Non-fatal STD-induced Syphilis

STISPOT — Nonfatal STD-induced Gonorrhea

Prevention for a STI Screening Visit

The CDC recommends that every sexually active person, including those of children and teenagers, get a STI checkup at least annually if:

• You have had sex in the past two weeks or were recently exposed to a STI

• You are younger than 18 years old and under 25, or 25 years old and older

• You have had sex in the past 6 months, as needed, and are using a condom and/or other contraceptive method within the last seven days at the most

For more information on sexual health and STIs, visit any of the links below: STD/STDP National STI & STD Clinical Practice Guidelines Sexual Health Center

STDs and the Prevention Plan

How To Prevent STDs

STD/STI Prevention In The U.S.