6 Really Weird, Scary Diseases You Can Catch From Unprotected Sex

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man and woman hooking up

Most of us know that having unprotected sex can be risky, resulting in unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes simplex type 2 have all been linked to sex. 

In a piece on Medical Daily, researchers added more diseases one can get from unprotected sex — just in case you weren't freaked out enough. So to be safe, wear a condom and you won't end up with these gross diseases.

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6 Really Weird, Scary Diseases You Can Catch From Unprotected Sex

1. Zika virus

This virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito and can be spread by a man to his sex partners. The symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), muscle pain, and headache.

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) is unknown but is likely to be a few days to a week. In known cases of sexual transmission, the virus was spread when the man had symptoms — before the symptoms started and after the symptoms ended.

In addition, the virus is present in semen longer than in blood. There is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus or medicine to treat it. Generally, you treat it as you would a cold, with plenty of bed rest, liquids, and Tylenol for pain.

2. Mycoplasma genitalium (M. genitalium)

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology classified this disease as a sexually transmitted disease, as the researchers found that the infection was more common in people who had at least four new sexual partners in the past year than in people who had one or fewer new partners. Also, people were more likely to have M. genitalium if they had unprotected sex, and no infections were found in people who never had sex.

In men, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the urethra (called urethritis) that leads to symptoms such as burning pain while urinating or discharge from the penis. Women's symptoms are less clear, but the bacteria has been linked to inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis) as well as a pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the female reproductive system which can lead to pain in the lower abdomen, pain or bleeding during sex, and in severe cases, infertility in women. Treatment for M. genitalium is often a five-day course of antibiotics.

3. Toxoplasmosis (Toxo) 

This generally harmless parasitic infection is usually found in cat feces, contaminated drinking water, undercooked meat, and unwashed vegetables and can be transmitted from infected men to noninfected women during unprotected sexual intercourse.

Toxo has been linked to a number of psychiatric conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and suicidal behavior. It's extremely dangerous for women who are pregnant to get Toxoplasmosis, as it can lead to serious complications for the baby.

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For people who aren't pregnant, no treatment is necessary and the symptoms will go away on their own. Pregnant women who suspect they may have contracted Toxo should tell their doctor immediately.

4. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a very common STD that's caused by infection with a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is passed from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infect part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, or urethra); in men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra).

During sex, the parasite is usually transmitted from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis, but it can also be passed from a vagina to another vagina. It's not common for the parasite to infect other body parts such as the hands, mouth, or anus.

While some people don't show any symptoms, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Men with trichomoniasis may feel itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after peeing or ejaculation, or some discharge from the penis. Women with trichomoniasis may notice itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort when peeing or a thin discharge with an unusual smell or color. Treatment is usually a single dose of prescription antibiotic medicine.

5. Shigella 

Shigella is a group of germs or bacteria that causes diarrhea and is very contagious; exposure to even a tiny amount of contaminated fecal matter — too small to see — can cause infection.

Transmission of Shigella happens when people put something in their mouths or swallow something that has come into contact with some feces of an infected person.

This happens when contaminated hands touch your food or your mouth, eating food contaminated with Shigella, swallow recreational (lake or river water when swimming) or drinking water that was contaminated by infected fecal matter, or exposure to feces through sexual contact. 

Symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, abdominal pain, and Tenesmus (a painful sensation of needing to go to the bathroom even when bowels are empty).

Complications from Shigella infections include post-infectious arthritis, bloodstream infections, seizures, and HUS or Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (bloody diarrhea). People with mild Shigella may only need fluids and rest, but for those with a more severe case, antibiotics are used.

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6. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid Fever is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella typhi. It's transmitted through the ingestion of food or drinks contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people. Sexual partners of carriers can catch it through oral-anal contact or oral sex.

Symptoms include high fever, lack of energy, headache, constipation or diarrhea, rose-colored spots on the chest, and enlarged spleen or liver. Antibiotics are used to treat it.

Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.