An active sex life is an important part of overall wellbeing for most men; a safe sex life is key to physical wellbeing and proper penis health. Unfortunately, many people don't know all the facts about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including what is tested for and what symptoms may or may not present. This means many sexually active adults are at risk for contracting and spreading infections. It's imperative that people learn about STI facts to ensure a safe, healthy sex life.
Who should get tested?
Any man who is sexually active would do well to be tested yearly. Even when condoms are used, there's a chance, though small, that infections may be transmitted. Risk increases if a man has experienced condom breakage or slippage, and if he has sex with multiple partners. Men who have unprotected sex should definitely be tested at least once a year.
It's especially important for men with symptoms to get tested. The exact tests he receives will depend on his risk level and any symptoms, to be determined by a medical professional. He may request testing that is not deemed necessary as well.
Men need to know what symptoms indicate infection; just as importantly, they need to realize that, sometimes, no symptoms are present.
When men experience itching within the urethra, burning upon urination and abnormal penile discharge, they may have contracted an STI, although a more mild cause such as yeast infection may also be indicated. Testing is crucial. The STIs associated with these symptoms are chlamydia (caused by trachomatis bacteria), gonorrhea (caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria) and trichomoniasis (caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite). Only about 30% of people with trichomoniasis develop symptoms, but non-symptomatic people can pass it on regardless.
Another common symptom of certain infections is the presence of bumps or sores on the penis. Bumps should be diagnosed by a health professional to determine what type they are. Herpes, genital warts, molluscum contagiosum and syphilis (caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria) may be indicated.
Herpes and warts generally don't cause major health issues, although they are unpleasant and can be itchy or painful. Molluscum contagiosum is benign, while syphilis can actually kill a person. Early detection and treatment are imperative.
There are many forms of the human papilloma virus (HPV), some of which cause warts, some that cause cervical cancer and others that are benign and have no symptoms. Most people are infected with some form of HPV at some point in their lives, and, usually, their bodies fend off the virus within a couple years.
HIV infection begins with symptoms similar to those of the flu - fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. Others include diarrhea and weight loss.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be tested for with a urine sample or a swab inside the urethra. Anal testing should be done if men have received anal sex.
HIV can be tested for via blood test or a swab of the mouth.
No tests for HPV exist for men. If a man is infected with the kind that causes genital warts, a visual diagnosis is conducted.
Syphilis can be tested for with a blood test or, if a sore is present, with a swab of the sore.
Non-symptomatic herpes may be tested for with a blood test. If bumps are present, a swab can be taken. Herpes tests aren't always conclusive or reliable.
Trichomoniasis may be diagnosed visually or via swab, although the infection is harder to detect in men.
Molluscum contagiosum can be diagnosed visually.
Optimal penis care
The importance of safe sex cannot be overestimated, and regular STI testing is a key component. Remember that not every infection has symptoms, and not everything can be tested for.
Along with using condoms, men can give their penises the best care possible by using a penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Such a product will not protect against STIs, but it will keep the skin in optimal condition, thanks to natural moisturizers, and encourage healthy blood flow to the penis. A healthy, attractive penis is an important asset for a man's sex life, so keep the manhood in peak condition; it'll invite more action.