Sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, are infections or diseases transmitted during sexual contact. STD can be transmitted during any type of sexual activity, and some STDs can be cured with a course of antibiotics, while others are not curable.
The treatment depends on the type of STD, and some STD treatment may involve taking drugs or getting a shot. For other STDs that can’t be cured, like herpes and HIV, there are treatments to relieve the symptoms.
The only way to prevent getting infected with STDs is to not have sex, and that means avoiding all types of intimate sexual contact.
You can also reduce your risk of getting STDs by practicing “safe sex.” This means using a condom for intercourse, knowing your partner and his/her STD status and health, and having regular medical check-ups.
Types of STDs/STIs
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital Herpes
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Viral Hepatitis
Common STDs/STI Symptoms
- 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.
- A discharge from the penis
- A burning sensation when urinating,
- Pain in the testicles sometimes occurs.
- redness and swelling of the genitals, and
- Vaginal itching.
- Itching, burning, or sore genitals.
- You might also see a smelly, clear, white, yellowish, or greenish discharge.
If your sexual history and current signs and symptoms suggest that you may have a Sexually Transmitted Disease (Sexually Transmitted Infection), laboratory tests can help identify the cause and detect infections you might have contracted. Blood tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis of HIV or later stages of syphilis, while Urine samples can be used to confirm other STIs.
Fluid samples can also be used if you have active genital sores. Testing fluid and samples from the sores may be done to diagnose the type of infection, and laboratory tests of material from a genital sore or discharge are used to diagnose some STIs.
Treatment of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are bacterial STDs that can be treated with antibiotics given either orally or by injection. The infections often occur together, and people who have one infection are typically treated for both by their doctors or health care provider.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the U.S. and is spread mostly by vaginal or anal sex. You can get it through oral sex, too.
Chlamydia is very destructive to the Fallopian tubes, and can also cause severe pelvic infection. Because it is common for infected women to have no symptoms, chlamydial infection is often left untreated and results in extensive destruction of the Fallopian tubes, fertility problems, and tubal pregnancy.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics, and you should immediately begin taking them if tests show you have chlamydia or gonorrhea or if you have been exposed to them, notwithstanding if you are showing symptoms.
Certain strains of gonorrhea have become resistant to some antibiotics, and you may have to take more than one drug to fight it. Make sure your partner also seeks treatment, and ensure that both of you get retested after three months to make sure the infection has cleared.
Failure to treat chlamydia or gonorrhea can result in the inability to get pregnant (for women) or permanent damage to your reproductive organs.
Since AIDS is not curable, treatment is focused on keeping the levels of the HIV in check. Antiretroviral drugs are the standard therapy for HIV infection, and the question of when to begin antiretroviral therapy for HIV is still debated.
Some doctors believe in an early start to better manage the HIV virus, while others believe it is better to wait, arguing that the drugs can cause unpleasant side effects and drug resistance may develop. Talk to your doctor on time about when you should begin antiretroviral therapy in the case you have been diagnosed with HIV.
Penicillin is the preferred treatment for syphilis, and early treatment is crucial to prevent the bacteria from spreading to and damaging other organs.
Syphilis, if recognized during the early stages, usually within the first year of infection, can be treated with a singular intramuscular injection of antibiotic.
A person being treated for syphilis must avoid sexual contact until the ulcer sores caused by the bacteria are completely healed. If a person does not recognize the infection early, longer treatment with antibiotics may be required.
However, if left untreated, the infection can progress even further and can potentially cause death. Early treatment is important; antibiotics can prevent the infection from getting worse, but cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred.
Genital herpes is an incurable infection, and the virus remains in your body for life. After the first outbreak, herpes may flare up several times per year. Antiviral medication (such as Famvir, Valtrex, and Zovirax) can be used to help reduce the length and severity of herpes outbreaks.
For those that experience frequent outbreaks, you may want to use suppressive therapy, where your doctor prescribes medicine for you to take every day, to prevent you from getting a herpes outbreak.
Trichomoniasis can be treated with a single dose of an antibiotic. The drugs usually used are metronidazole or tinidazole, taken orally. Trichomonas infection has the ability to recur.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
A person who has the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection cannot be cured. However, many of such infections can be prevented with vaccination, and a health care provider can treat genital warts caused by the virus as well as monitor and control the risk of cervical cancer (for women) through frequent screening.
Viral Hepatitis virus usually infects the liver and may cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, the infection gets better on its own without requiring treatment, while in others, individuals may have lasting damage to their livers or may have such severe nausea and vomiting that requires them to be admitted to the hospital.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause a lifelong infection but can be treated with antiviral medications, and there may need to see a liver specialist who is experienced in treating individuals with the chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis C virus can be a silent, chronic infection, and can cause immediate illness affecting the liver. As with hepatitis B, individuals with Hepatitis C virus may have a lifelong infection and will always be at risk of passing the virus on to their sexual partners.
New treatments are available that can clear the infection in some individuals, and Sexual partners should also receive hepatitis B vaccine if not already immune.