Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), typically spread by sexual contact and infection may transfer from person to person through blood, semen, vaginal or any other bodily fluid. If the infection transfers non-sexually, it is from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, through blood transfusion or shared infected needles with certain STDs like such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis. STDs in infants are usually dangerous and fatal. Pregnant mothers are advised to screen for STD’s and take adequate treatment.
STDs can be caused by the following:
- Bacteria (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia)
- Viruses (human papillomavirus, genital herpes, HIV)
- Parasites (trichomoniasis)
In most early cases of STDs, there are no symptoms and the condition goes unnoticed for years until complications or one partner is diagnosed. Typical symptoms include sores or bump on the genitals, in the oral or rectal area, painful and burning sensation while urinating, and foul smell and discharge/bleeding from the vagina or penis, pain during intercourse, tender and sore lymph nodes in the groin, lower abdominal pain, fever and rashes on the trunk, hands or feet. The possible complications include pelvic pain, pelvic inflammation, pregnancy complications, eye swelling, arthritis, infertility, heart disease and certain HPV associated cervical and rectal cancers.
Anyone who is sexually active , having unprotected sex , has multiple sexual , has tendency for alcohol and substance abuse, shares syringes and needles, are at high risk for STDs.
Usually it is a good idea to see a doctor immediately than allow the problem to get worse. Reducing the risk of infection is key. The doctor will ask for blood, urine and fluid samples from genital sores to confirm or rule out infection or HIV or advanced stages of syphilis.
Those STDs caused by bacteria are easier to treat and the ones caused by virus can be managed but not cured like HIV. The treatment is fairly simple depending on the kind of infection with a course of antibiotics, antiviral drugs to lessen the risk of infection. During the treatment it makes sense to abstain from sexual activity to ensure complete treatment leaving no room for a relapse or re-infection.
The sexual partners may be asked to undergo screening and tests to rule out presence of any infection and seek treatment where necessary.
Safe sex is very crucial to keep STDs at bay.