Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
What are STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)?
Recognized as forms of infections acquired from direct sexual contact, STDs or better termed as sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are conditions that can either be life-threatening or not. These diseases are spread from one individual to others through unprotected sexual activity. Apart from having sex, these diseases are also spread through shared needles and breastfeeding.
The first signs of infection involving STDs may be similar to both males and females. However, minor differences are also present. For better understanding of these diseases, here are the warnings that both men and women should take into account.
Signs and Symptoms in Males:
Since not all infections yield symptoms, you will not notice immediately if you have acquired the condition. However, in some outbreaks, a series of symptoms emerge.
- A general feeling of pain during urination and sexual intercourse
- The development of annoying sores, painful bumps, and skin rashes (these usually emerge on the buttocks, penis, anus, and even on the testicles)
- Unexplained bleeding (usually occurring on the penis)
- A inflammatory sensation within testicles
Signs and Symptoms in Females:
Similar to males, STDs’ first signs of infection do not appear always. Furthermore, to provide you with full detail of the effects of the condition, women can experience the following:
- A general feeling of discomfort during urination and sexual intercourse
- The development of annoying sores, painful bumps, and irritated skin (usually emerging on the vagina, anus, and thighs)
- Unusual bleeding (usually occurring in the vagina)
- Itchiness and redness of the vagina and the skin surrounding it
Since there are different types of STDs, the symptoms for both genders can vary. Whatever the type is, note that when the infection is uncontrollable, seek medical help immediately.
Types of STDs
As mentioned, there are different types of STIs. In learning these types, you will have a better knowledge of the infection and how you can help yourself avoid acquiring any of them. Read on to know more.
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
One of the major infections acquired through unprotected sex is the human papillomavirus or HPV. The infection usually affects the mouth and genital region of both males and females. Reports say that this infection is very common to women, which justifies the increasing number of HPV cases involving women.
Similar to other infections, HPV also includes a few distinct strains. If left untreated, these strains are likely to cause serious health complications, such as oral cancer, penile cancer, cervical cancer, and other forms of cancer involving the genitals.
There is no established treatment for this infection. The infection usually vanishes on its own. However, you can be vaccinated to fully prevent the virus from infecting you. One of the major approved vaccines is Gardasil.
2. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Also acquired through unprotected sex, sharing needles, and breastfeeding, the human immunodeficiency virus attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. HIV is also recognized as one of the most life-threatening medical conditions, given the rising cases of HIV-positive individuals every year.
HIV has 3 hostile stages. If there is no treatment given, the infection can progress to a more severe stage, being AIDS or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. At this stage, the body is unable to fight the infection and many health complications or opportunistic diseases emerge.
Thankfully, antiretroviral drugs are available to treat the infection and lessen its severe effects on the body. While these drugs are not the cure to the infection, it has significant medical effects that alleviate the intensity of HIV to its host, which happens be our bodies.
Also transmitted through sexual contact, syphilis is another form of bacterial infection. In its first outbreak, the infected individual will not notice it immediately as the appearance of a sore can be painless. It usually emerges on the genitals and the mouth.
Similar to other infections, once syphilis is treated, it will remain in the body. Whether it be years or decades, the bacteria remain dormant within the body. It only reactivates when something triggers or awakens it. There is no exact evidence as to how it reactivates, but a weakened immune system may be a reason for its revival.
If there is no treatment given for people with syphilis, the infection can cause other health complications. These complications may include vision loss, hearing loss, and memory loss.
People who get herpes are infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is one of the many forms of sexually transmitted diseases, which is also identified for having two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Apart from HIV, herpes is only one of the most common infections acquired through unprotected sex. Every year, the cases involving this infection are rising constantly.
As mentioned, there are two types of this infection. These are types are also known as oral herpes and genital herpes. Oral herpes affects the mouth and even the throat. It is also classified as mouth sores. Meanwhile, genital herpes involves infection of the penis and vagina. It causes inflammation and painful sores in or outside the genitals.
The production of antiviral drugs made way for people with herpes to recover from their condition. Since there is no cure for this infection yet, antiviral medicines are available to purchase and use.
Triggered by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections medically classified today. Correlative to other STDs, people will not immediately know if they have been infected with the bacteria since its symptoms do not usually appear. However, when these symptoms emerge, they can be identified as pain and discomfort in the genital area.
Chlamydia can happen to anyone, regardless of gender. However, it is most common in women. The treatment involving this infection is not difficult, only if it is given early and accurately. Other than pain and discomfort, some of its symptoms are as follows:
- Difficulty during urination
- Genital discharge (both the vagina and penis)
- Painful sensation when having sex
- Infections involving the testicles, prostate gland, and urethra
Also known by the term “the clap”, Gonorrhea is another form of bacterial infection. It is a sexually transmitted infection that affects the genitals, mouth, and rectum. Just like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea can occur to anyone, regardless of gender. The bacteria or infection is transmitted through oral sex, vagina sex, and anal sex.
The symptoms involving gonorrhea can vary in men and women. Consider the following:
Symptoms in Men:
- Painful sensation during urination
- Discharge of pus-like abscess from the penis
- Swollen testicles
Symptoms in Women:
- Unexplained vaginal discharge
- Painful feeling during urination
- Pain on the abdominal and pelvic area
Causes of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are caused by different factors. These are as follows:
From its term itself, these infections are acquired through sexual contact, most especially with the activity is performed without the use of protective barriers, such as condoms and dental dams.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment for these conditions will depend on the type of STDs that the person has acquired. If it is through bacterial infection, the most common form of treatment is through antibiotics. For virus-induced infection, antiviral or antiretroviral drugs are administered.
Preventing yourself from acquiring different STIs can be done in several ways. These are as follows:
- Get yourself vaccinated. One of the most common types of STDs is HPV. If you haven’t known yet, HPV vaccination is available to all age groups to prevent the acquisition of this life-threatening condition.
- Practice safer sex. When engaging yourself in any sexual activity, always use condoms. This protective barrier helps in preventing viral infection. Whether it be vaginal, oral, or anal sex, the usage of condoms prevents someone from being infected, such as HIV infection.
- Avoid engaging in alcohol or drug abuse. When you become intoxicated with either alcohol or drugs, you become aggressive in engaging in unprotected sex. It can also mean irresponsibly using shared needles, which can be contaminated by infected blood.
- Get yourself tested. If you suspect of having been infected with any of the STIs mentioned, get yourself tested immediately. There are clinics or hubs today that offer free testing, which you can take advantage of.
Living with STDs can be challenging. Your old habits can drastically change as you will be observing a new lifestyle, plus the daily consumption of your antiviral medicines or antibiotics. When you are diagnosed with any of the sexually transmitted infections, always follow what is prescribed to you. A regular visit to the doctor will also help to know how your body progresses and how to better manage your condition. The treatment provided for every STD will help you live normally and recover as long as you take heed of it.