Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are the condition of an individual that is usually acquired/passed from one person to another through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. STDs are caused by sexually transmitted infections that can also be transmitted non sexually, such as mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding or through blood transfusions or shared needles.

Moreover, some STDs, like herpes and HPV, can spread by skin-to-skin contact. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) may also be called sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and venereal diseases (VD). 

Difference between STDs and STIs:

The terms sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may appear identical, and most medical professionals and institutions use them interchangeably. While some of them considered them slightly different phrases due to “science of symptoms.”

To make it more simple, sexually transmitted infection (STIs) is a broader term that is only considered a disease when it causes symptoms. STI doesn’t need to indeed develop into a disease. It’s possible to contract STIs from people who seem perfectly healthy and may not even know they have an infection. 

Essential Facts about the Spread of STIs:

It is pretty alarming that more than 1 million STIs are acquired every day. WHO (2021) estimated that 384 million new infections with one of four STIs: chlamydia (132 million), gonorrhea (83 million), syphilis (7.1 million), and trichomoniasis (156 million).

More than 500 million people were victimized of genital HSV (herpes) infection, and an estimated 300 million women have an HPV infection (the primary cause of cervical cancer). Around 296 million people are estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis B globally. Both HPV and hepatitis B infections are preventable with vaccination.

STDs are among the most common contagious diseases that require serious and immediate treatment. Following STDs are curable with antibiotics or other treatments;

  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Crabs
  • Trichomoniasis

The following STDs are incurable;

  • HPV
  • HIV
  • herpes

However, even if STD can’t be cured, they can still be managed. It’s essential to get an early diagnosis and to avail various treatment options that will help alleviate symptoms and lower your chances of transmitting the STD to someone else.

Symptoms of STDs and STIs

STDs or STIs can have various signs and symptoms unnoticed until complications occur or an individual is diagnosed. Following is the list of different signs and symptoms that men and women may experience; 

Symptoms for Men

  • Burning or itching in the penis
  • A drip (discharge) from the penis
  • Pain around pelvis
  • Sores, bumps, or blisters on penis, anus, or mouth
  • Burning and pain with urine or with bowel movements
  • Having to go to the bathroom often

Symptoms for Women

  • Burning or itching in the vagina
  • A discharge or odor from the vagina
  • Pain around the pelvis
  • Bleeding from the vagina that is not normal
  • Pain deep inside during sex
  • Sores, bumps, or blisters in the vagina, anus, or mouth
  • Burning and pain with urine or with bowel movements
  • Having to go to the bathroom often

Types of STDs

There are more than 20 types of STDs, among which the following are the most common;

  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a most common sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. It can infect both men and women. Women can get chlamydia in the cervix, rectum, or throat. Men can get chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum, or throat. It can be caused during oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone infected. A woman can also pass chlamydia to her baby during childbirth. Chlamydia is more common in young people, especially young women.  It doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. So, you may not realize that you have it. 
  • Genital Herpes: Genital herpes is a common virus that affects the skin, cervix, and genitals, as well as some other parts of the body. It can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. It can get during anal or oral sex with someone who has it. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth. 
  • Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is most common in young adults caused by bacteria can infect the genital tract, mouth, or anus. During vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner, it can get. A pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth. 
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus that harms the immune system by destroying white blood cells. It can create a severe risk of serious infections and certain cancers. It can spread through unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person, by sharing drug needles, or through contact with the blood of a person with HIV. It can pass from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
  • HPV: Human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of related viruses that can cause warts on different parts of your body such as genitals, anus, mouth, or throat, etc. It can spread through direct sexual contact with someone who has the virus, other intimations, skin-to-skin contact, etc. HPV can cause serious cancer, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, oral and throat cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and penile cancer.
  • Public Lice: Pubic lice (also called crabs) are tiny insects that usually live in humans’ pubic or genital areas. They are also sometimes found on hair that can spread mainly through sexual contact.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. It infects both men and women’s genital area, lips, mouth, or anus. You usually get syphilis from sexual contact with someone who has it. It can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy.
  • Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is a STD caused by a parasite. It spreads from person to person during sex. Many people do not have any symptoms, but it can cause vaginitis in women.

Causes, Treatment and Prevention 

Following are the causes and recommended treatments of STDs or STIs. Moreover, the below-mentioned table reflects its diagnosis procedure and prevention mechanism;

STDs and STIs

Causes

Diagnosis

Treatments

Prevention 

Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Chlamydia Bacteria To diagnose STDs and STIs, the following test or procedure will be followed; 

  • The health care professional will ask personal questions about your sexual history.
  • Blood tests can show if you have a disease that infects the blood.
  • Urine samples can show if you have bacteria in your urine from an STI.
  • Fluid samples can show if you have active sores and help diagnose the type of infection.
Antibiotics can easily treat bacterial infections.
  • Don’t drink alcohol excessively.
  • Use preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). 
  • Avoiding sexual contact is the only preventive measure for STDs. 
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners you have
  • Condoms provide adequate protection against many STDs.
  • Regular STD screening.
  • Get a vaccination for HPV and HIV.
Crabs and Trichomoniasis Parasites Treatable with oral or topical medications.
HPV, Genital Herpes and HIV Viruses Antibiotics can’t treat viral STDs. While most viral infections have no cure, some can clear on their own. 

Note: There are some other kinds of STDs and STIs such as hepatitis A, B, and C viruses, shigella infection, and giardia infection that can be spread through sexual activity, but it can be caused without sexual contact.

References:

  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis) retrieved on December 15, 2021.
  • mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/symptoms-causes/syc-20351240 retrieved on December 15, 2021.
  • https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/s/sexually-transmitted-infections retrieved on December 15, 2021.
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases#treatment retrieved on December 15, 2021.
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/sexually-transmitted-diseases#chlamydia retrieved on December 15, 2021.
Was This Content Helpful?
YesNo