Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are diseases and infections that are acquired through sexual contact. The infectious organisms may pass from person to person through blood, semen, vaginal fluid or other body fluids. In many cases, STDs can also be transmitted non-sexually from mother to an infant during pregnancy or childbirth. Sexually transmitted diseases often don’t show any symptoms and therefore, they are also known as sexually transmitted infection. STD is extremely infectious and majority of sexually active adults have suffered from or will be affected by one at some point in their lives. This article provides an overview of the different types of sexually transmitted diseases and a few facts about these diseases.
Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
In most cases, STD symptoms are not present, but if they are present, then they may include one or more of the following signs.
- Vaginal discharge with odor, discharge from the penis
- Extreme itching near the penis or vagina
- Bleeding from the vagina other than during periods
- Sores, warts, bumps or rashes near the penis or vagina or anus
- Swelling or redness near the penis or vagina
- Painful urination
- Painful sex
- Unexplained weight loss, night sweat or loose stools
- Pain, Chills, and fever
8 Common Types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections
There are more than 25 types of sexually transmitted diseases that are caused by different types of bacteria and viruses. In this list, we will discuss the most common ones.
Chlamydia - This is a very common STD, which is caused by the trachomatis bacterium that infects the urethra and cervix. It is more common among young women between the age of 15 and 19 compared to older women. There are not many prominent symptoms of chlamydia, and therefore, it often goes undiagnosed until it becomes more serious compared to the early stages. Chlamydia if kept untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – a leading cause of infertility in women.
Gonorrhea- This is yet another common STD, which is often confused with Chlamydia because the symptoms are very similar, and the diseases can occur together. Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection transmitted through oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse. It begins in the urethra or the cervix and migrates to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - PID is an inflammatory disease of the upper female reproductive tract caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoea bacterium. Sexually active females between the age of 15 and 19 are most vulnerable to this disease. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease has very mild or no symptoms, but it should be treated urgently otherwise it can inflame and scar the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Genital Warts - Genital warts or condylomata acuminata are benign warts caused by the human papillomaviruses that pass from one person to another during unprotected sex. But there are other HPV (human papillomaviruses) which are responsible for cervical cancer and other genital diseases. The symptoms of HPV are silent, and most women infected with this virus show no symptoms at all. Genital warts usually appear as clusters inside the vagina, cervix or anus. Male genital warts form on the penis, scrotus and around the anus, but they are far less common.
Syphilis - Epidemics of syphilis have been reported for centuries and even today the outcome of this infection can be fatal if it is left untreated. Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The symptoms of syphilis include round, open sores in the genital area, rash on the palms of the hands and soles of their feet, swollen glands, bleeding, anemia and infection of organs such as lungs, spleen, brain.
HIV/AIDS - HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is by far the most fatal sexually transmitted disease that affects the immune system and kills the “CD4 cells” of the body that are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases. HIV is carried from person to person if a person having HIV infection has sex with another person. It is also transmitted through shared injection needles. It can also be passed from a mother to a baby during delivery or during breastfeeding. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a condition that develops when the HIV destroys the immune system. In this condition, you can fall seriously ill from the common flu or infection. But it is necessary to remember that AIDS is not synonymous with HIV.
Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with infected blood or body fluids such as saliva, semen or vaginal fluids. The virus enters the body through the mucous membranes such as the mouth, vagina or anus and causes serious infection of the liver. It is difficult to diagnose Hepatitis B because there are hardly any symptoms. And even if there are, they show up 1 to 9 months after contact with the virus. Hepatitis B usually has flu-like symptoms that don’t go away along with tiredness, jaundice, yellow colored eyes, dark urine and light-coloured bowel movements. There is no curative treatment for the Hepatitis B virus and most people get better and protected from future infection with the help of their own natural immunity.
Trichomonas- It is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite known as the trichomonas vaginalis and it can affect both men and women. The parasite is transmitted mainly through vaginal sex with an infected person, and it can lead to intense vaginal itching, vaginal discharge, redness and pain in the vaginal area, discharge from the penis, burning sensation while passing urine and irritation at the tip of the penis.
The good news is that most of these sexually transmitted diseases can be avoided, and the risk of getting infected can be minimized by practicing safer sex. Getting tested for STDs is another smart and safe way to rest assured that you don’t have any infections. The tests also allow you to get the right treatment that you need in case of any infection. So, stay aware of the causes and symptoms of these diseases and infections and share the information with your partner to enjoy safely and responsibly.
All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.
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