Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) don't always show any evidence & persons may seems perfectly healthy or not even know they are infected. For this reason it is better to use the name “sexually transmitted infections” (STIs)
The STIs are mainly:
- Bacteria (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia)
- Parasites (trichomoniasis)
- Viruses (human papillomavirus, genital herpes, HIV)
- Others (Hepatitis A, B and C viruses; Shigella, and Giardia intestinalis.)
Infections are from sexual contact, or non-sexual contact. For example from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, or from blood transfusions or shared needles. They are transferred by blood, semen, vaginal fluids and other bodily fluids.
STIs can have a range of signs and symptoms, including no symptoms.
A few possible symptoms include
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the trunk, hands or feet
Symptoms might appears within a few days, or might take years. For this reason there are some important things to consider.
People considered at high risk include those who have many partners should consult a doctor for STI screening without delay. Don’t wait and see if there are any symptoms. Please remember that even if you cure some infections they can be caught again.
- Abused children
- Any victim of sexual assault regardless of age, or gender.
- Pregnant woman
- In some countries screening for HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia and syphilis generally takes place at the first prenatal visit for all pregnant women. Worth checking with your doctor to make sure the test is done as your child can die.
Risk management is usually not in our mind but for your information here are some factors to consider
- Before you start having sex with a new partner. It’s fair for both to be screened. Note even if you have been tested before some reinfections do occur.
- Improper or inconsistent use of condoms including removal
- Oral sex may be less risky, but infections can still be transmitted
- Either person in a relationship having sexual contact with multiple partners.
- Having a history of STIs. Having one STI makes it much easier for another STI to take hold.
- Abusing alcohol or using recreational drugs. Not the best time to take risks
- Injecting drugs. Needle sharing spreads many serious infections, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- Being young. Half of STIs occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Important things to do if an infection is found
Official, confidential partner notification can help limit the spread of STIs, particularly for syphilis and HIV. The practice also steers those at risk toward appropriate counselling and treatment. And since you can contract some STIs more than once, partner notification reduces your risk of getting re-infected.
Some countries have medical notification systems in place and doctors have to report. It is important everyone that you have had sex with be informed so that they can get tested and treated if infected.