Q: I was having sex with my partner and the condom broke and he told me that he has an STI.
A: This means there is a chance that you have contracted the STI. Find out which STI he thinks he has and then consult your doctor for the appropriate test.
Q: My partner has syphilis, am I guaranteed to have it as well now?
A: If you have had unprotected sex with someone with an STI then you are at risk and should consult your doctor. People can have Syphilis and transmit it without showing symptoms for several years.
- Syphilis occurs in 3 stages-
The appearance of a single sore marks the first (primary) stage of syphilis symptoms, but there may be multiple sores. The sore appears at the location where syphilis entered the body. The sore is usually firm, round, and painless. Because the sore is painless, it can easily go unnoticed. The sore lasts 3 to 6 weeks and heals regardless of whether or not a person is treated. However, if the infected person does not receive adequate treatment the infection progresses to the secondary stage.
Skin rashes and/or sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus (also called mucous membrane lesions) mark the secondary stage of symptoms. This stage usually starts with a rash on one or more areas of the body. Rashes associated with secondary syphilis can appear from the time when the primary sore is healing to several weeks after the sore has healed. The rash usually does not cause itching. This rash may appear as rough, red, or reddish brown with spots both on the palms of the hands and/or the bottoms of the feet. However, this rash may look different on other parts of the body and can look like rashes caused by other diseases.
Large, raised, gray or white lesions may develop in warm, moist areas such as the mouth, underarm or groin region. Sometimes rashes associated with secondary syphilis are so faint that they are not noticed. Other symptoms of secondary syphilis include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue. The secondary symptoms of syphilis will go away with or without treatment. Without appropriate treatment, the infection will progress to the latent and possibly late stages of disease.
Late and Latent Stages
The latent (hidden) stage of syphilis begins when primary and secondary symptoms disappear. Without treatment, the infected person can continue to have syphilis in their body even though there are no signs or symptoms. This latent stage can last for years.
About 15% of people who have not been treated for syphilis develop late stage syphilis, which can appear 10–30 years after infection began. Symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease damages the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. This damage can result in death.
Q: My partner and I want to have a baby, but if we use a condom obviously we can’t get pregnant. How can we do this while remaining safe at the same time?
A: If you don’t use a barrier method then you will be at risk of contracting an STI. The best thing to do would be to have some tests done and figure out if you or your husband is carrying any infections as many of them can occur without showing physical symptoms.
Q:Is it true that sperm dies as soon as it is exposed to the air, so you can’t get pregnant if sperm is near, but not in the vagina?
A: This is not the case. Outside the vagina sperm can survive for a couple of hours depending on environmental factors like temperature and moisture. Inside the vagina conditions are far more hospitable and sperm can last between 4-7days. If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy and STIs, your best bet is to use a condom.
Q: Is it possible to contract STIs through oral sex? Does swallowing make it more likely to be infected?
A: STIs can be transmitted during oral sex if you don’t use a condom. It is still possible to contract HIV, however the risk is somewhat lower than with vagina or anal sex. Some diseases that are spread from skin to skin contact like herpes and gonorrhea can also be transmitted during oral sex if a condom is not used. In these situations its always best to use a condom whenever possible.
Q: Can you get HIV from kissing or sharing a toilet seat?
A: It is not possible to get HIV from saliva and certainly not possible to contract it simply by sharing a toilet seat. It should be noted that if the person has any abrasions or gum bleeding it would be better to refrain from kissing them until they’ve healed.
Q: Is it safer to use two condoms instead of just one? Does it provide additional protection?
A: This is not a good idea as the friction caused by the condoms rubbing against one another with increase the risk of a breakage. Condoms are extensively tested and are amongst the highest performing methods of contraception. However, if you are looking for additional protection, try applying an extra form of contraception like the pill.