Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Types, Symptoms, Preventive Measures, and Treatment.
Regardless of your sexual orientation or hygiene standards if you have sex, vaginal, oral, anal, and genital touching you can get an STD also called sexually transmitted disease.
STDs are quite funny they can rent an apartment in your body and the surprising thing is that you won’t know.
Why is that?
Some STDs do not always cause any symptoms or may cause mild symptoms. Some of these symptoms include; painful urination, fever, lower abdominal pain, vagina itching, and a lot more.
These STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some of which are curable and some can be managed.
No one is saying you shouldn’t have sex but have safe sex. Make use of condoms, water-based lubricants and also go for STI testing.
According to WHO;
More than 1 million STIs are acquired every day. In 2020, WHO estimated 374 million new infections with one of four STIs: chlamydia (129 million), gonorrhea (82 million), syphilis (7.1 million), and trichomoniasis (156 million). More than 490 million people were estimated to be living with genital HSV (herpes) infection in 2016, and an estimated 300 million women have an HPV infection, the primary cause of cervical cancer. An estimated 296 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B globally. Both HPV and hepatitis B infections are preventable with vaccination.
The aim of this article is not to scare you but to give you a better understanding of sexually transmitted diseases.
WHAT IS STD?
STD also referred to as a Sexually transmitted disease is a disease, infection, or illness that can be spread from one person to another through sexual contact. This includes genital to genital contact with vaginas, penises, or scrotum through any kind of sex oral, anal or vaginal sex. Some STDs can be spread through non-sexual activities such as the use of unsterilized drug needles, from mother to infant, during childbirth, breastfeeding, and blood transfusion.
STDS that are transferred to an infant during childbirth may result in serious health problems for the baby. To help prevent STDs in newborns doctors always advise pregnant women to be tested for STD/STIs as part of their prenatal care. Prenatal STI testing helps to determine whether a pregnant woman has an infection that can be cured or controlled with drug treatment. This helps to decrease the chance of the infant contracting the disease.
STDs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Bacterial STDs include Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis.
Viruses; virus STDs include HPV, genital herpes, and HIV.
Parasites; parasitic STDs include trichomoniasis, Pubic lice.
There are many types of STDs which include;
- Pubic lice or crabs
- Genital herpes
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Ureaplasma infection
Many STDs are curable but some are not. Some curable STDs include syphilis, pubic lice, chlamydia, Gonorrhea, trichomoniasis.
Incurable STDs include; HIV, Human papillomavirus, and Hepatitis B.
Some STDs do not always cause any symptoms or may cause mild symptoms. So many people who have STDs do not know about it and may spread.
Some of the mild symptoms include;
- Pains or discomfort during sex
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or smelling discharge.
- Lower abdominal pain
- Painful or burning urination
- Penis discharge
- Bumps, sores, or rashes around the penis or testicles.
- Sores, bumps, rashes on or around the buttocks, thighs, and anus.
- Vagina itching.
- Blisters or sores in or around the mouth.
- Having multiple sex partners or sex partners with multiple concurrent sex partners.
- Having sex with someone recently treated for STI
- None or inconsistent use of condoms outside a mutually monogamous sexual partnership.
- Having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with sex workers.
- Having sex with anonymous partners you met on the internet.
- Abstinence; one of the best ways to avoid STDs is to abstain from sex.
- Vaccination; vaccines are safe and recommended way to prevent Human papillomavirus and Hepatitis B
- Consistent and correct use of latex male condoms can be an effective way to reduce the risk of STD transmission.
- Reduce the number of sex partners; reducing the number of sex partners can reduce your risk of getting STDs.
- Mutual monogamy; This means you agree to be sexually active with just one person. To be in a relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the ways you can reduce the risk of being infected. But before having any sexual contact with your partner, you both should be tested and share your results.
COPING AND SUPPORT
It can be painful when you find out you have STD/STI. You might feel angry or betrayed if you have been infected by someone you trust.
If you find yourself in such situation;
- Be honest with the health workers; they are there to listen to you and also stop the spread of the infection.
- Do not blame anyone; this applies to those in a relationship, don’t blame your partner. Like we said earlier you can be infected and won’t know, your partner might have been infected by the former partner or you might have been infected by your former partner.
Laboratory tests can be done to identify any form of STD/STI
Examples of tests done
- Urine test; some STIs can be detected using urine samples.
- Blood test
- Fluid samples
CURE AND VACCINE
Bacteria STDs create some symptoms which can be cured with antibiotics whereas viruses are much more resilient.
- Antibiotics; Antibiotics are often used to cure sexually transmitted bacteria and parasitic infections such as Gonorrhea, chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Most times you will be treated for Gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time because they often appear together
- Antiviral drugs; Antiviral drugs are used mostly for herpes and HIV. When you take the drugs the rate of occurrence of herpes will reduce but you can transmit the infection.
As for HIV, antiviral drugs can help keep Hiv in check for many years. You would still be a carrier of the virus and can transmit it though the risk is lower.
Once a person becomes sexually active it’s important to use condoms and other latex barriers and be tested regularly for STDs. To stop the spread of STDs, use condoms, water-based lubricants never use Vaseline or petroleum-based lube. This can be gotten from the clinic or pharmacies.
Remember STDs are not a death sentence.