What Are Common Sexually Transmitted Infections for Australian Men?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect individuals of any gender, including men, and their prevalence can vary by region and population. In Australia, as in many other countries, several STIs are common among men. These include:
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in Australia and affects both men and women. It often presents without symptoms, which makes regular testing important.
Gonorrhea is another prevalent STI in Australia, and it can cause symptoms like painful urination and discharge from the penis. However, some cases are asymptomatic.
Syphilis rates have been rising in Australia recently, including among men. It has several stages and can have severe health consequences if left untreated.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) remains a significant concern globally. In Australia, prevention and treatment programs are in place, but new infections continue to occur among men who have sex with men and other populations.
Genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), can lead to painful sores or blisters in the genital area. It's a lifelong infection.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
HPV is a very common STI that can lead to genital warts and an increased risk of certain cancers, including anal cancer. Vaccination against some HPV strains is available in Australia.
This lesser-known STI can cause symptoms like chlamydia or gonorrhea, including urethritis and discharge.
Hepatitis B and C
Although primarily transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, these viruses can also be sexually transmitted. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for specific populations.
Trichomoniasis is less common but can cause itching, burning, and discharge in men.
It's important to note that the rates and prevalence of STIs can change over time and vary among different age groups, geographic regions, and populations within Australia. Regular STI testing, practising safe sex (e.g., using condoms), and getting vaccinated when applicable (e.g., HPV and hepatitis B) are essential steps for preventing and managing STIs. If you suspect you may have an STI or have been exposed to one, it's crucial to seek medical advice and get tested promptly to prevent complications and reduce transmission to sexual partners. Sexual health clinics and healthcare providers in Australia offer testing and treatment services for STIs.
Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections
Preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is essential for maintaining sexual health and reducing the risk of transmission to sexual partners. Here are several effective strategies to prevent STIs:
The most effective way to prevent STIs is to abstain from sexual activity. This means refraining from sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Having a sexual relationship with only one mutually monogamous partner tested negative for STIs can significantly reduce the risk of infection. It's essential to ensure that both partners have been tested and are free of STIs before engaging in unprotected sex.
Safe Sex Practices
Consistently and correctly using latex or polyurethane condoms can provide a high level of protection against many STIs, including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Condoms should be used for vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Use Dental Dams or Condoms for Oral Sex
Dental dams or condoms can reduce the risk of STIs during oral sex.
Avoid Sharing Sex Toys
If sex toys are used, they should be cleaned and used with a new condom for each partner.
The HPV vaccine is highly effective at preventing several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to genital warts and certain cancers. In many countries, including Australia, HPV vaccination is recommended for both males and females at a young age.
Hepatitis B Vaccination
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for individuals at risk of hepatitis B infection, including healthcare workers and those engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours.
Regular Testing and Screening
If you are sexually active, getting frequent STI testing is essential, even if you have no symptoms. Early detection and treatment of STIs can prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission. Testing may include blood, urine, or swabs of genital, anal, or oral areas.
Talk openly and honestly with sexual partners about STIs and sexual health. Discuss your sexual history, testing, and prevention strategies before engaging in sexual activity.
Limit Alcohol and Drug Use
Alcohol and drug use can impair judgment and decision-making, leading to risky sexual behaviours. Reducing or avoiding these substances can help you make safer choices.
Stay informed about STIs, their symptoms, and how they are transmitted. Knowledge is an essential tool in making informed decisions about sexual health.
Regular Medical Checkups
Visit a healthcare provider regularly for checkups and sexual health discussions. They can guide STI prevention and safe sex practices.
Avoid High-Risk Behaviors
Avoid risky sexual behaviours, such as having multiple sexual partners, engaging in unprotected sex, or having sex with partners with a history of STIs.
Remember that some STIs can be asymptomatic, which may not cause noticeable symptoms. Regular testing and prevention measures are essential, regardless of whether you or your partner(s) have symptoms. If you suspect you have an STI or have been exposed to one, seek medical advice and get tested promptly to prevent complications and protect your sexual health.
Dr Clem Bonney
Discussing STDs can cause embarrassment and discomfort for many patients. Having an empathetic, non-judgemental practitioner enables early treatment of STDs. Dr Clem Bonney has experience in treating people with STDs giving ongoing advice and support.