What Everybody Should Know About Sexually Transmitted Infections

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Understanding Sexually Transmitted Infections [STI]

Sexually transmitted infections are diseases that are transferred from one person to another through sexual contact. 

This can include Vaginal, anal, and oral sex. These diseases can affect anyone sexually active, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.

These infections can have serious health consequences if left untreated. However, the good news is that many STIs are preventable and treatable with proper knowledge and healthcare practices.

Some facts about STI.

According to the CDC, there are more than 20 known types of STDs\ STI. According to a WHO report, more than 1 million curable sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide in people aged 15-49 years. 

Most of these infections are asymptomatic meaning that you can be infected with the disease but show no symptoms of the infection. In 2020 there was an estimation of more than 374 million new infections in people ranging from 15-49 years. 

A Quarter of these infections were from chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. There was also a study that indicated that in 2022 about 1.1 million pregnant women were estimated to be infected with syphilis resulting in over 390 000 adverse birth outcomes.

 

What Causes Sexually Transmitted Infection?

Sexually transmitted infections are primarily caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses,  and parasites.

More than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites are known to be transmitted through sexual contact. Some STIs,

such as HIV and Hepatitis B, can be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, with blood and shared needles being possible routes of transmission.

The greatest reported incidence of STIs is associated with eight illnesses. They include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis,

and syphilis which are currently treatable. The remaining four, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV), are viral infections.

Types Of Sexually Transmitted Infection.

There are many types of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Below are the most common types of STIs:

Chlamydia: Although this bacterial infection rarely manifests symptoms, it can lead to major reproductive problems if left untreated. It is one of the most often reported STIs and can cause infertility in women if not treated promptly.

Gonorrhea: it is a bacterial infection that affects the genitals, rectum, and throat. It leads to severe complications, which include infertility and an increased risk of HIV infection if not treated.

Syphilis: this is a bacterial infection. It has progressive stages and can cause long-term health problems which include damaging your heart, brain, and other organs of the body if not treated early.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus [HIV]. HIV is a viral disease that attacks the immune system. This is a lifelong condition which if not attended to early leads to AIDS. However, you can manage HIV through antiretroviral therapy.

Human papillomavirus {HPV}: This is a viral infection that has many types, some types can cause genital warts, while others lead to cancer which includes cervical, anal, and throat cancers.

Herpes Simplex Virus {HSV}: this is a viral infection. It is characterized by causing painful sores on the genitals and mouth. There are two types: HSV-1, which typically causes oral herpes, and HSV-2, which usually causes genital herpes.

Trichomoniasis: This is a parasitic infection that can cause irritation and discharge. The infection is more common in women and is treated with prescribed medication.

Hepatitis B: This is a viral infection that affects the liver, leading to serious liver diseases. It causes liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. However, this infection can be prevented with a vaccine.

Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Infection.

Different {STI} Sexually Transmitted infections manifest different symptoms. You will manifest symptoms according to the infection you have contracted. 

However a lot of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) might be asymptomatic, or they lack symptoms. For this reason, if you engage in sexual activity, routine screening is crucial.

They include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Sores, bumps, or warts on or near your penis, vagina, mouth, or anus
  • Itching or irritation in the genital area
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes can also occur.

What are the Risk Factors?

Several factors can increase your risk of contracting an STI if you are sexually active. These factors include:

  • Unprotected sex{not using condoms or dental dams} with a partner who is infected
  • Sexual intercourse with a partner with known STIs
  • Multiple partners who are infected
  • Previous history of STIs
  • Using drugs or alcohol, can impair judgment and lead to risky sexual behavior.

Common STI Complication

If left untreated Sexually Transmitted infections can cause lifelong complications. The common complications include: 

  • Fertility problems in men as well as women
  • Women suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may experience excruciating stomach discomfort and reproductive organ damage
  •  Ectopic pregnancy poses a potential threat to life
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV
  • Chronic pain and discomfort
  • Newborns experience complications such as low birth weight, blindness, or even stillbirth.

How to Prevent Contraction Of STIs?

To avoid contracting STIs, you should avoid sexual contact with an infected person. But other practices can help, they include:

  • Use condoms or dental dams during sex, consistently and correctly
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have
  • Commit yourself to one partner, a long-term partner who has no infection
  • Get vaccinated for certain STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B
  • Have regular STI screening even though you have no symptoms to help you detect infections early.

What Are STI Diagnosis and Treatment?

Diagnosis of STIs typically involves a medical history review and physical exam by your doctor, who will ask about your sexual history and symptoms. 

Lab tests, including samples of blood, urine, or body fluids, are used to test for specific infections. Treatment depends on the type of STI.

Bacterial STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. While viral STIs like herpes and HIV can't be cured, however, antiviral medications can manage symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission.

Parasitic STIs like trichomoniasis can be treated with prescribed medications. Completing the full course of prescribed medications and informing your sexual partners, so they can be tested and treated if necessary, is crucial for effective treatment.

FAQs

What is the treatment of STDs in females?

Effective treatment for STDs in females is a combination of medical consultation, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate medication. 

For instance, chlamydia can be cured with a single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline. Gonorrhea is often treated with a combination of ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

Syphilis is treated with highly effective penicillin injections. Viral infections like herpes and HPV have no cure, however, antiviral medications can be used to manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. 

Females need to complete their prescribed treatment and avoid sexual contact until they are fully cleared of the infection to prevent spreading the STD to their partners.

How do you cure STDs without going to the Doctor?

It is strongly advised that you seek professional medical help if you suspect you have an STD. If unable to see a doctor right away, you can take intermediate steps. Over-the-counter drugs and home cures are not a substitute for professional medical care, but they can assist with some symptoms. 

Keeping your genital area clean and dry, avoiding irritants, and wearing loose-fitting clothing can help reduce your discomfort. 

However, there are many online telemedicine that can diagnose and prescribe a medication for you and have it derived for you in your home.

What is the best antibiotic to treat STDs?

The best antibiotic for treating STDs depends on the specific infection. Azithromycin and doxycycline are commonly prescribed for chlamydia, with azithromycin being preferred due to its single-dose regimen.

Gonorrhea often requires a combination of ceftriaxone therapy, an injectable antibiotic, and azithromycin to combat potential antibiotic resistance. 

Syphilis is effectively treated with penicillin, specifically benzathine penicillin G, which is administered via injection. These antibiotics are chosen based on their efficacy, ease of use, and the pathogen's susceptibility.

What are the symptoms of STDs in females?

There are a variety of symptoms, some may be mild or can be easily mistaken for other conditions. These symptoms include unusual vaginal discharge, which may be white, yellow, or green, and have an unusual odor. 

You may experience pain burning urination or irritation in the genital area. Painful intercourse, bleeding between periods, and sores, blisters, or warts on the genital or anal area are also signs of an STD.

What are the signs of STDs in males?

Symptoms of STDs in males can vary depending on the type of infection but often include unusual discharge from the penis, which may be clear, white, yellow, or green. 

Pain or burning during urination is another common symptom, as are sores, blisters, or warts on the genital or anal area. Itching, irritation, and swelling around the genitals can also indicate an STD. Painful ejaculation or pain during intercourse may also be symptoms.

SUMMARY

Understanding and treating STIs is critical to your sexual health and general well-being. Staying aware, practicing safe sex, obtaining regular tests, and seeking fast treatment when necessary can help you and others avoid the terrible consequences of sexually transmitted illnesses.

Always remember that prevention and early detection are critical components of effective STI management. It affects you and your partner's health. Stay safe, and aware, and take proactive measures to protect your sexual health.