Sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, are infections or diseases transmitted during sexual contact. STD is often referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and can be transmitted during any type of sexual activity. Some STDs can be cured with a course of antibiotics, while others are not curable.
Some STDs may cause devastating signs and symptoms, while others may be present without showing symptoms at all. Many STDs do not show notable signs or symptoms, meaning that a person can have an STD and not know it. Consequently, the person can spread the infection to others.
But the possibility of infections and diseases are as much a part of sex as the pleasure is, and both men and women get them. Knowledge is power when it comes to your sexual health, and recognizing the symptoms is a start.
However, you won’t easily notice chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and other STDs, and you’ll need to get tested to protect yourself and your partner. Luckily, all of these common STDs can be treated, and most can be cured.
STD Definition And Facts
- STDs are infections that are passed on during any type of sexual contact.
- Many STDs in women do not cause specific symptoms.
- Common STDs include Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, HIV and genital herpes.
- Antibiotic treatment can cure STDs caused by bacteria, e.g Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
- No cure is available for some STDs like HIV, but medications are available to manage these chronic conditions.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility are complications of some STDs, and complications of STDs depend upon the specific type of infection.
- Condoms can protect against some STDs and are never 100% effective.
Common STDs in Men and Women: STI Symptoms and Treatments
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects both men and women. In most cases, it does not cause any symptoms, but when it does produce symptoms and signs, these may not appear for weeks after your infection. Infection of the rectum as a result of Chlamydia can cause rectal pain, bleeding, and discharge from the rectum in both men and women.
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria, so its treatment is usually with antibiotics. After you are treated, try and get retested in three months, even if your partner has been treated as well.
Chlamydia Symptoms in women include:
- Burning with urination
- an abnormal vaginal discharge
- Abdominal or pelvic pain is sometimes present.
- Blood in the urine,
- Urinary urgency (feeling an urgent need to urinate), and
- Increased urinary frequency can occur.
In men, symptoms, when they occur, can include:
- A discharge from the penis
- A burning sensation when urinating,
- Pain in the testicles sometimes occurs.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Nearly every sexually active person will have HPV at some point in their life, as it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. and around the world.
More than 40 types of HPV can be spread sexually, and you can get them through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can also get them by skin-to-skin contact.
Most types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) have no symptoms and cause no harm, and the body gets rid of them on its own. However, some of them cause genital warts, while others infect the mouth and throat.
Worse still, others can cause cancer of the cervix, penis, mouth, or throat.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Neisseria gonorrhea (gonococcus bacteriae). This infection is transmitted by sexual contact and is one of the oldest known sexually transmitted diseases.
It is estimated that over one million women are currently infected with gonorrhea, and a significant percentage of the female victims will also be infected with chlamydia, another type of bacteria that causes another STD.
There may be no symptoms, especially in the early stages of the infection, but when women do experience symptoms, it usually includes:
- burning during urination,
- frequent urination,
- a yellowish vaginal discharge,
- redness and swelling of the genitals, and
- Vaginal itching.
for gonorrhea treatment, the good news is, this common sexually transmitted disease (STD) is easily treated
Syphilis is a highly contagious disease spread primarily by sexual activities like oral and anal sex.
Rarely, the disease can be passed to another person through prolonged kissing or close bodily contact. This disease is spread from sores, but the vast majority of those sores go unrecognized, and the infected person is often unaware of the disease.
Penicillin is the preferred treatment for syphilis, and early treatment is crucial to prevent the bacteria from spreading to and damaging other organs.
Formation of an ulcer (chancre) is the first stage of syphilis, and there are three stages of syphilis, along with an inactive (latent) stage. The ulcer develops any time from 2 weeks to 12 weeks after infection, with an average time of 21 days following infection until the first symptoms develop.
Syphilis is highly contagious when the ulcer is present, and if the ulcer is outside of the vagina or on the male’s scrotum, condoms may not prevent transmission of the infection by contact.
In the same way, if the ulcer is in the mouth, kissing the infected individual can spread the infection. The ulcer can resolve without treatment after three to six weeks. However, if the primary stage is not treated, the disease can recur months later as secondary syphilis.
Tertiary syphilis is a systemic stage of the disease and can cause a variety of problems throughout the body. The damage sustained by the body during the tertiary stage of syphilis is severe and can even lead to fatality. Some of these problems include:
- abnormal bulging of the aorta, resulting in heart problems;
- the development of large nodules in various organs of the body;
- infection of the brain, causing a stroke, mental confusion, meningitis, problems with sensation, or weakness (neurosyphilis);
- sight deterioration
- Involvement of the ears resulting in deafness.
Genital herpes is a viral infection by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that is transmitted through intimate contact with the mucous-covered linings of the mouth or the genital skin.
The virus enters the linings or skin through microscopic tears and travels to the nerve roots near the spinal cord once inside. The virus then settles there permanently.
When an infected person has a herpes outbreak, the virus travels down the nerve fibers to the site of the original infection, resulting in the typical redness and blisters that occur when it reaches the skin.
Two types of herpes viruses: herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 (oral herpes) more often causes blisters of the mouth area while HSV-2 (Genital Herpes) more often causes genital sores or lesions in the area around the anus.
The outbreak of herpes is closely related to the functioning of the immune system, and women have more frequent and longer-lasting outbreaks because they have suppressed immune systems, because of stress (monthly periods), infection, or medications.
Symptoms Of Herpes
Once exposed to the virus, there is an incubation period, during which, there are no symptoms and the virus cannot be transmitted to others. This incubation period generally lasts 3 to 7 days before a lesion develops.
An outbreak usually begins within two weeks of initial infection and manifests as an itching or tingling sensation, which is followed by redness of the skin. Finally, a blister forms and subsequent ulcers that form when the blisters break are usually very painful to touch and may last from 7 days to 2 weeks.
The infection is definitely contagious from the time of itching to the time of complete healing of the ulcer. However, infected individuals can still transmit the virus to their sex partners in the absence of a recognized outbreak.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a tiny parasite, and more women than men get trichomoniasis. Men and women can give it to each other through sex organ contact. Even women can give it to each other when their genital areas touch too.
Only about 30% of people with trichomoniasis have symptoms, which may include:
- Itching, burning, or sore genitals.
- You might also see a smelly, clear, white, yellowish, or greenish discharge.
Trichomoniasis is usually treated with antibiotics.
Most genital warts will disappear without treatment, and there is no standard of treatment for it. However, you will still carry the virus that causes warts and can still transmit it to sex partners
Several treatment options include:
- Applying medication directly to them is often the first choice.
- Freezing the warts
- If genital warts do not respond to these options, surgery may be necessary to remove them.
Treatment does not rid you of the infection, and you can still transmit it to others.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is perhaps the most feared STD, and infection can occur during sexual contact, sharing needles, or from an infected pregnant woman to her baby, among others.
The virus ultimately causes dysfunction of the body’s immune system at an advanced stage. The average time from infection to immune suppression is 10 years, and symptoms of HIV infection are vague, as no specific symptoms signal HIV infection.
However, some people develop fever and a flu-like illness 2 to 4 weeks after they have contracted the virus. They can also experience muscle aches, fatigue, and could also lose weight or have diarrhea.
The only sure way to tell if you’ve been infected is to get your blood or saliva tested for the virus.
HIV can take years to destroy your immune system, and after a certain point, your body loses its ability to fight off infections. There’s no cure for HIV at the moment, but powerful drugs can help people with HIV.
Once immune suppression has occurred, serious complications like unusual infections, certain cancers, and dementia may develop.
Hepatitis B is infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and has two possible phases; acute and chronic phases.
Acute hepatitis B refers to newly acquired infections, and in most people with acute hepatitis, symptoms resolve over weeks to months. They can be cured of the infection at this stage. However, a small number of people develop a very rare and severe, life-threatening form of acute hepatitis called fulminant hepatitis.
Chronic hepatitis B is an infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that lasts longer than 6 months, and once the infection becomes chronic, it may never go away completely.
The goal of hepatitis B treatment is to stop liver damage by preventing the virus from spreading, and you can use drugs approved for use in hepatitis B. such drugs include adefovir, entecavir, interferon alpha, lamivudine, and pegylated interferon.
Each of these drugs has pros and cons that you should discuss with your doctor, and if you develop significant liver damage from hepatitis B, then, a liver transplant may be necessary.
Treatment for STDs is generally directed toward the causative organism, and some STDs, like herpes and HIV infection, are not curable and persist for life.
Early tests to diagnose STDs, as well as STD counseling in regard to the risks of spreading the infection, and how to avoid spreading it to others is very necessary.
Read this article on how to treat std at home.