Sexually Transmitted Diseases

April 1, 2021

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

While talking about sexually transmitted diseases or STDs, one usually hears only about HIV/AIDS. But there are a host of STDs that can ruin one’s system and health if a person gets infected with anyone of them. Even if they aren’t as life-threatening as AIDS they can do enough damage to the person’s sexual health and general wellbeing. Here are the different types of STDs that one can get infected with:

CHLAMYDIA

 

Chlamydia is caused due to bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. This infection can happen to both men and women and it has some serious consequences too. It can cause permanent damage to the reproductive organs of a woman and affect her chances of getting pregnant later if left untreated or ignored. During the initial days after being infected with the bacteria, there might be few or no symptoms to suggest the presence of the disease. The symptoms usually start to show one or three weeks post the bacterial attack. Remember, the signs are too mild in the beginning to even make you realize that you’re infected.

You can get this infection by having anal, vaginal or oral sex with a person suffering from Chlamydia. Though it is more common in the genital tracts one can even get this infection in the rectal area too.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

  • In women, the infection can give rise to abnormal vaginal discharge, painful urination, pain during sexual intercourse and lower abdominal pain.
  • In men, the infection can cause testicular pain or swelling in the testis, painful ejaculation, discharge from the penis and burning sensation while urinating.
  • In case of a rectal infection there could be bleeding, discharge and rectal pain both in men and women.
  • If a woman is pregnant with the infection there is a fair amount of chance that she can spread the infection to her child during the time of birth.

Diagnosis and treatment

Chlamydia infection is tested either by taking a urine sample or by a vaginal swab. In general, it is treated with oral medications and certain precautions. Sexual intimacy should be avoided if you’re taking medication for the same. Remember immunity from an STD is not expected after an infection. In fact, the chances of a successive infection only increase after the first bacterial attack. Hence people affected with this disease should go for a proper check-up for any recurrence once every three months if one is sexually active.

 

 

GONORRHEA

 

This is another form of bacterial infection that affects the genital tracts of both men and women. The bacteria causing the infection can grow in moist and warm areas of the reproductive organs of a woman including the cervix, the fallopian tube and the urethra of both men and women. That’s not all, sometimes the bacteria can also grow in the mouth, throat and anus regions. The symptoms of gonorrhea can either appear within a week after being infected or remain silent for months together before acting up.

Symptoms of gonorrhea

  • In women, it can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding, pain during urination, burning sensation in the vagina, lower abdominal or pelvic pain, spotting after intercourse and swelling in the genital tracts. Sometimes, it can also result in a throat infection if contracted during oral sex. At times it can also cause conjunctivitis.
  • In men, it can cause discharge from the penis, pain or a burning sensation during urination, swelling in the testicles and throat infection if transmitted through oral sex.
  • A pregnant mother can pass the infection to the baby during the birthing process if she is infected with the same.

Diagnosis and treatment

To diagnose the condition a swab might be taken from the genitals of a man and cervix of a woman. Sometimes, even a throat culture or anus culture is done to check if the infection has spread to those areas. Gonorrhea can be treated and cured either with oral medications or with antibiotic injections depending on the severity of the condition and your health care expert’s diagnosis of the same.

 

 

TRICHOMONIASIS

 

This sexually transmitted infection is usually spread by a microscopic one-celled parasite called the trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite usually infects the urinary tract of men and the vagina of the women. But this infection often remains silent for a long time before it calls for attention. When trichomoniasis causes symptoms it can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation of the genitals.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis:

  • In women itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort during urination, and vaginal discharge with an unusual smell are seen.
  • In men, the symptoms can be that of itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation, or discharge from the penis.
  • In general, the infection can kill the appetite for sex and without treatment it can last for months or even years.

Diagnosis and treatment

Symptoms alone would not give your doctor an accurate diagnosis of the condition. A lab test of swabs taken from the genitals of both the men and women might be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. The infection can be treated with a single dose of antibiotic but is recurrent in nature. One in five people treated for the condition has a chance of getting this infection back. So if symptoms persist even after treatment it is wise to pay a visit to the doctor again.

 

 

HIV INFECTION

 

This is undoubtedly the most deadly of all sexually transmitted diseases. To date prevention of HIV is being more stressed as a definite cure for the same has not yet been ascertained. The HIV infection interferes with the body’s ability to fight of viruses or bacteria effectively that can give rise to a disease-causing the immune system to weaken. This leads to AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome which is a chronic life-threatening disease.

HIV doesn’t present with any classical symptoms at the onset. But some people develop flu-like symptoms a fortnight after acquiring the infection. Also, read 9 risk factors of HIV/AIDS.

Symptoms of HIV

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rashes
  • Extreme fatigue

These symptoms subside within a week or so and are mistaken for other viral infections. More persistent or severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for 10 years after the symptoms of the initial infection subside. As the infection continues to erode the immune system it gives rise to more prominent symptoms like:

  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever of high grade
  • Cough and shortness of breath
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Persistent headaches
  • Unusual, opportunistic infections

Diagnosis and treatment

Once the signs and symptoms of the infection are persistent your doctor might ask for a blood test if he is suspicious of the same. The count of CD4 T cells determines the severity and status of your health with the HIV infection. HIV doesn’t have a definite cure, vaccinations for the same are still in the testing phase. Medications given to check the symptoms also have their own side effects. The best way to deal with HIV infection is to practice prevention.

 

 

GENITAL HERPES

 

This is a highly contagious viral infection that is caused due to a type of virus called the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The infection is usually spread by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who already has the disease. Like other STDs the signs and symptoms of genital herpes go unnoticed or are very mild in the beginning. This infection can happen to both men and women in the genital areas. When the signs and symptoms of the infection present itself it can be painful and too irritable. Know more about the symptoms and causes of the same. 

Symptoms of genital herpes

  • Small bumps or blisters or open sores appear to be in the genital, anal and nearby areas
  • There can be pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks and inner thighs too.
  • After some time the ulcers can rupture and bleed.
  • In women, sores can rupture in the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus or cervix.
  • In men, sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs, or inside the urethra, the tube from the bladder through the penis.
  • The sores can even happen in the mouth and skin too.
  • These ulcers can make it painful to urinate too.

Diagnosis and treatment

Often the symptoms present in the genital areas can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis of the same. In case your doctor still needs confirmation, swabs from the sores or open ulcers can be sent to the lab to check for the infection. Genital herpes has no cure. Though medications are used to suppress the symptoms it doesn’t provide a complete cure. Sometimes a person can end up having recurrent infections too.

 

 

GENITAL WARTS

 

This is again a very common and contagious form of sexually transmitted disease that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Usually the warts may have no symptoms in the beginning. They infect the genital areas of both the men and the women alike.

Symptoms of genital warts

  • In women, genital warts can grow on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix.
  • In men, they may occur on the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus.
  • Genital warts can also develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sex with an infected person.
  • The warts appear as small, flesh-colored or gray swellings in your genital area
  • Itching or discomfort in your genital area
  • Bleeding with intercourse

Diagnosis and treatment

At times the warts just go away on their own if the body is capable of fighting the virus else one might need medical help for the same. There are various treatment options available to remove and treat the warts. Remember even if the warts go away they can still return in the future because the treatment can take care of the warts but not the virus. So it is necessary to talk to your healthcare provider while choosing a treatment option to keep the infection at bay for long.

 

 

SYPHILIS

 

This is also a potent form of STD, which not only affects the genitals but the skin, the mucous membranes, and also other parts of the body, like the brain or the heart. It is spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Syphilis symptoms can occur in four stages.

Congenital syphilis happens when a pregnant woman passes the infection to her baby while birthing. Hence it is imperative that a woman gets treated for the same before planning a pregnancy.

Symptoms of syphilis:

  • The primary phase: The primary symptoms of the condition are presence of small, painless sore (chancre) on the part of the body where the infection was transmitted, usually the genitals, rectum, tongue or lips along with enlargement of lymph nodes. Though these symptoms disappear with no proper treatment but the underlying disease is still there.
  • The secondary phase: The secondary symptoms present itself after 10 days of the sores have appeared and are marked by red or reddish-brown, penny-sized sores over any area of your body, including the palms and soles; fever, fatigue and a vague feeling of discomfort accompanied with soreness and aching. These signs also disappear within a few weeks and remain absent for as long as a year.
  • The latent phase: The latent phase of the condition is the phase following the secondary phase which is silent and the person suffers from no symptoms of the disease as if nothing had really happened.
  • The tertiary phase: One can reach this phase if the previous symptoms were ignored and treatment was delayed. The tertiary symptoms usually mark neurological problems like stroke and infection and inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord (meningitis). It can also give rise to poor muscle coordination, numbness, paralysis, deafness or visual problems, dementia etc. Cardiovascular problems due to the disease can give rise to bulging and inflammation of the aorta and of other blood vessels. Syphilis may also cause valvular heart disease, such as aortic valve problems.

Diagnosis and treatment

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics effectively. But if the condition has passed to the tertiary stages surgical intervention can be necessary to treat the complications of the condition. Though the treatment cannot undo the physical damage the virus has done. There is also a possibility that one can get the bout of infection back in the future.

 

 

HEPATITIS

 

Hepatitis refers to a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to complications that could be serious. There are chances of getting infected with hepatitis A, B and C during a sexual intercourse, as the virus can be transmitted from an infected person to another through blood or other body fluids. Though, a hepatitis infection can be transmitted by other means also like using unsterilized injections, blood transfusion, bad hygiene habits etc.

Symptoms of hepatitis:

The symptoms with hepatitis A, B or C appear to be similar but are more potent and life-threatening with the last two. In the case of Hepatitis B the symptoms appear to be chronic and can lead to permanent damage of the liver if treatment is delayed or ignored. With hepatitis C delayed treatment or diagnosis can lead to chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. The symptoms that one can suffer from due to a hepatitis infection are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Weight loss,
  • Jaundice marked with yellowish color in the white areas of the eyes with pale color urine and feces.

Diagnosis and treatment

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A virus, though there are vaccinations available to provide protection from the same. Most people fight off the virus naturally or with the help of antiviral drugs prescribed, returning to full health within a couple of months. The doctor would advise avoiding alcohol and fatty foods as these can be hard for the liver to process and may exacerbate the inflammation.

In case of a mild hepatitis B infection little medical help in form of corrective lifestyle changes, hygiene, and medications would be needed to fight the infection. Antiviral medications are prescribed to those with chronic symptoms to help prevent further liver damage. These medications may be injected or given in pill form. Vaccinations for hepatitis B are given in the form of injection over a period of three or six months to provide protection from the same.

There are no vaccinations to prevent hepatitis C infection, though drugs like antiviral medications are used to treat the symptoms of the condition. Even with developments in the field of science and medicine the success rate of such treatment is very low. Prevention is the best resort in such a case. Know more about the potent hepatitis C disease. 

 

 

Prevention

 

Though not all STDs are potent, they do alter a person’s life in one way or the other if infected. It is important to prevent the occurrence of a STD. Here is what you can do to prevent the same:

  • Practice safe sex. Use condoms every time you have intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
  • Avoid having sex with multiple partners. This can increase your chance of getting infected with an STD if one of your partners has one.
  • If you are diagnosed with a STD refrain from sexual activity while you are treated. Some of the STDs have no cure and it is better to refrain from sex if you are infected with one. Else talk to your partner and a sex therapist to explore your options.
  • Never neglect treatment. Remember if you have been infected with a type of STD your chances to get another type of STD infection is very high. So get treated soon and follow proper instructions.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and sanitation. This is more needed to restrict the spread of the disease from the genital areas to other parts of the body in an infected person that transmitting it to the partner.

SOURCE: Healthsite