Escort health: The what’s what of STD (sexually transmitted diseases)
Before we even get started, note that your job as an escort never requires you to have sex or provide sexual services to a client. As a professional, you’re being paid for your time and company. You should make this clear both to keep yourself clean legally and so that if you’re in a situation where sex is requested that you—as an independent individual—do not want to have, you can’t be pressured, coerced or physically forced by any person or organization.
That disclaimer aside, there will most likely be times that you want to be intimate with a client. Being an escort, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a wide variety of men who will most likely be sexually attracted to you. And in those moments, you should be as educated as possible as to what you’re physically going up against. Unfortunately we don’t live in an age when we can completely trust when someone tells us they don’t have an STD. 1 in 4 Americans will get an STD at some point in their lifetime. And many STDs come with no symptoms.
This is no reason to panic! Yes, while some STDs cause life-altering illnesses, others can be cleared rather quickly with antibiotics. But being aware of your body’s health is the most proactive way to protect yourself and partners.
Basic ways to protect yourself:
Shower. And insist that your patrons shower, too. Shower before and after a date to significantly reduce the risk of contracting bacterial infections. As a measure that cleans your body surface and intimate areas of bacteria and viruses, showering does not replace, but complements condoms (see below). Volunteering to “help” your date in the shower not only helps to build the romantic mood, but serves to confirm that they did actually have shower.
Get screened regularly. The sooner you know you have an infection, the sooner a medical professional can help you clear it up, and the less you may possibly infect someone else. Even if you don’t have health insurance, there are cost-effective ways to get screened. Go to www.plannedparenthood.org for more information.
Always use condoms. STD’s can get transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex, so always make sure you’re suited up when getting ready to play. After prolonged activity, change condoms. Condoms can reduce the chance of transmitting an STD by at least 88%. Using a water-based lubricant also reduces the chances that a condom will wear or break during prolonged intimacy.
Sexually transmitted disease and sexually transmitted infections:
Chancroid (pronounced shang-kroid) is a less common STD transmitted by skin and bodily fluids that causes sores on the genitals. Symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after infection, and include open sores in the sexual region and groin. Because symptoms may appear similar to herpes and syphilis, it’s important to have a doctor test you. Chancroid is fully curable with antibiotics, but both partners should be treated at the same time to reduce the chance of re-infection.
Chlamydia (pronounced klah-mih-dee-ah) is the most common STI in the United States, with about 3 million new infections every year. It is five times more common than gonorrhea, and 30 times more common than syphilis. 3 of 4 women with chlamydia and 2 of 4 men will not have symptoms, making it one of the most pressing reasons as to why those who are sexually active should get tested for STDs and STIs regularly, especially when often changing sex partners. But symptoms may include abdominal pain, abnormal discharge, bleeding between periods, pain or burning when urinating, pain during sex, bleeding after sex, swelling around the vagina, penis or testicles.Chlamydia is easily treated with one course of antibiotics and is not a serious threat to your health unless it goes untreated. Without treatment, Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, affect your ability to get pregnant or cause sterility.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
There are 100 kinds of HPV, and 3 of 4 women in the United States will have HPV at some point in their lives. Most HPV infections have no harmful effects, and some 40 of the kinds of HPV are considered “low risk” and produce genital warts (see below). Other kinds, however, may lead to certain cancers, and are called “high risk” kinds of HPV.Most HPV infections will go away in about a year, but the infection can also hide in the body for years and not be detected. While HPV is now a hot-button topic in the health field in regards to vaccinations for young women and girls, it is important to stress that you should not be afraid if given a diagnosis. It’s a very layered infection with many possible outcomes. Most sexually active people will have some strands of HPV at some point in their lives, and most infections go away on their own.There are no symptoms of high-risk HPV in women or men, and most doctors won’t regularly screen for it because of how common it is and since it normally goes away on its own. There’s not even an HPV test for men currently. For women, HPV may be tested after receiving an abnormal pap smear.There is no treatment to cure high-risk HPV, and it normally goes away by itself. However, there are procedures to treat the abnormal cells in a woman’s cervix because of infection.
Genital warts are cause by HPV types 6 and 11 (2 of the 100 strands of HPV, a virus, described above). They commonly produce itchy but not painful sores in the genital area and sometimes (though not often) in the mouth or throat. While they may resemble small bumps that are soft to the touch and sometimes cluster, they do not cause cancer, as some may fear. They usually develop 6 weeks to 6 months after being infected, and may occur when the immune system is weak.There is no pill to take to get rid of genital warts, as they are caused by a virus. But most often the body fights off the virus on its own and they go away without treatment. However, if they’re particularly uncomfortable or don’t naturally fade, some medicines can be applied at home or by a doctor to remove them.
Gonorrhea (pronounced gon-o-RHEE-ah) is a bacterial infection passed during sex. It’s sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip”.1 out of 10 men and 4 out of 5 women will not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur they’re most often within 2 weeks of infection and include abdominal pain, bleeding between periods, fever, pain during sex or urination, irregular discharge from the penis or vagina, itching around the anus, and painful bowel movements.Gonorrhea is a common STI and can be easily cured with antibiotics, but has serious affects if it goes untreated. It can cause complications in pregnancy, be passed from mother to fetus during birth, cause pelvic inflammatory disease and make both women and men infertile.
Hepatitis B, a liver infection, is the most common sexually transmitted Hepatitis infection. There is a very effective vaccine for it, which is administered three times within a certain period. It has drastically reduced infections in the United States.Symptoms resemble those of a cold or flu and include fatigue, pain in the abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, painful joints, fever and headache and may also include dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes.There is no treatment for Hepatitis B, but it usually goes away on its own 4-8 weeks after infection. However, 1in 20 Hepatitis B patients will become “carriers”, meaning that they can infect their children during birth and easily infect those they are sexually active with. Those who are chronic carriers can be treated with medication to reduce the chance of developing more serious liver diseases that may lead to death.
There are two Herpes viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both are incredibly common: Up to 8 out of 10 Americans have oral herpes (most often caused by HSV-1) and 1 in 4 have genital herpes (most often caused by HSV-2). They remain in the body for life and have symptoms that may never appear, or may come and go over the years.Oral herpes shows up as cold sores or blisters on the lips or in the mouth. The sores last for a few weeks and then go away, but may return almost indefinitely. Genital herpes are similar sores and blisters around the vagina, vulva, cervix, penis and/or anus. Again, they last several weeks before going away but may come back indefinitely.After the initial outbreak, many patients who have herpes don’t have a second outbreak or recurrence, making it hard to regulate when trying not to pass it along to others. While drugs can help the outbreak control the frequency, severity and duration of the sores, there is no direct cure for herpes.
HIV and AIDS
HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that leads to AIDS by slowly breaking down the immune system. People with HIV become incredibly sick with infections that healthy bodies can fight themselves. AIDS—Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome—is the most advanced stage of HIV.There are many symptoms of HIV that may develop shortly after being infected. But many patients can have no symptoms for 10 years after infection. Symptoms include swollen glands, fever, headaches, fatigue and body aches.AIDS is a result of an advanced stage of HIV, and symptoms are drastic and specific to the infections that have worn on the patient.There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are now many combinations of medicines that can alleviate symptoms and to strengthen the immune system so that HIV does not develop into AIDS. Whereas an HIV diagnosis in the United States was once considered a death sentence, it is now common for patients to live with HIV or AIDS for many years, and new drugs are coming still.
Syphilis (pronounced SIFF-i-lis) is a less common STD but one that can be serious if not treated. It pronounces itself in three stages. During the first stage it is easy to treat syphilis with antibiotics. However, the later stages are untreatable and can lead to serious complications with the heart, nervous system and other organs, leading to death. Which is why regular screening is very important when switching partners or after unprotected sex.The symptoms increase in the three stages. The primary stage includes open, wet sores in the vagina, cervix, lips, mouth, breasts or anus that are generally painless and last 3-6 weeks without treatment. The second stage includes rashes on the hands and feet, fever, fatigue, hair loss, weight loss, sore throat, headache and muscle pain. The third stage may include serious damage to vital organs.