On our journey through commonly sexually transmitted diseases, what they mean, what to do about them, and how to prevent them, we land at Hepatitis B. Hep B is a typically overlooked STD, most likely because it’s placed in a whole separate category with it’s counterparts A & C, and because it’s symptoms are quite different from the more “typical” seeming infections. However, Hepatitis, especially strain B, is a very common infection spread through unprotected sex play. Luckily, it’s also very avoidable.
Hepatitis seems scary. It gets a very intense rap. There’s all these strains that all can be spread in their own ways, whether it be through infected blood, feces, or other body fluids. When you think of hepatitis, people’s brains seem to go to dirty cities, full of dirty drugs and all sorts of dirty things that give you a dirty infection. However, hepatitis is an extremely common STD that can happen to anyone. Luckily, you can avoid it very early on with a smart head and some preparation.
You might already have fought hepatitis B (HBV)off without even knowing it. Most children are required to get a hepatitis b vaccine before going to school, or at some point in their young lives. That’s right there is a vaccine for this thing. How grand. It’s also very accessible, which is even better. If you were not vaccinated as a child, you can get the vaccine at most doctor’s offices, or at clinics such as Planned Parenthood. Get the vaccine, and hepatitis b shouldn’t be a problem. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cover all the bases of being safe.
First, though, let’s talk about what you’re protecting yourself from. Hepatitis B is a bit different when it comes to the STD world. Hepatitis is an infection of the liver. The HBV infection can be spread through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and urine. Like most STDs, HBV rarely shows symptoms. When it does, they will most likely occur six weeks or six months after an infection. These symptoms could include extreme fatigue, pain in the abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, headache, fever, and hives. If symptoms occur later, they could include dark urine, pale bowel movements, and jaundice. Luckily, more often than not, HBV will clear up on it’s own within 4 to 8 weeks, and most of that can be avoided. However, that doesn’t mean just ignore HBV. If you think you could be infected, meet with a doctor and get tested.
Unfortunately, there’s the other side of a story where HBV doesn’t clear up on it’s own. About 1 out of 20 people who are infected will be carriers of the chronic infection. Chronic HBV can lead to liver damage and cancer of the liver. These carriers are much more common to pass the virus to other people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ever have sex again. There are ways to live with your HBV, help treat you, and live a long, happy, sex having life.
Though there is no cure for HBV, like all STDs, it is not a death sentence for you or your sex life. Talk with a doctor, do you research, be smart & safe and everything can be a-okay! Don’t worry, be happy, educate yourself, communicate, have sex, wear a condom, use a dental dam, and of course, have fun.
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