Sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted by sexual contact and can infect you any time you have unprotected sex with a partner that is already infected.
Organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases can go from one person to another via blood, semen or vaginal fluid. It is possible to be infected by a person that looks perfectly healthy, neat, well known – people who may not even know that they have a sexually transmitted diseases. The cause of this is that many of these diseases don’t have any symptoms, at least not at first.
Symptoms depend on the cause of the disease, and their appearance is grouped into acute – those that appear fast and chronic.
First signs of infection
- Inflammation of mucous membranes, advent of wound with or without pain on genital or rectal region.
- Painful urination, followed by a burning sensation.
- Discharge from urethra or vagina.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding.
- Fever or other flu like symptoms.
Signs can spontaneously disappear after a few weeks (with later complications).
Later signs of infection (months or years later)
- Redness, rash or wounds anywhere on the body.
- A persistent genital inflammation (which doesn’t respond to therapy).
- Pain during intercourse.
- Pain in testicles, redness, swelling.
- Pain in small pelvis.
- Neurological and cardiovascular problems.
Causes of sexually transmitted diseases
More the 30 viruses, bacteria and parasites cause sexually transmitted diseases. Most of these organisms depend only on transmission by sexual contact. In other words, if you have any of these infections, the only way they were transmitted was sexual.
The most common are:
Bacteria that causes gonorrhea (the clap, a drip) – neisseria gonorrhea. Bacteria that causes syphilis – treponema pallidum. Bacteria that cause urethritis, cervicitis – chlamydia trachomatis. One-celled organisms that cause urethritis, vaginitis and pain in the pelvis – trichonomas vaginalis. They are manifested with a very unpleasant smell in women. Viruses that cause cervical and anal carcinoma – human papillomavirus (HPV), types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58. Viruses that cause genital herpes – herpes simplex virus, more commonly type 2 but also type 1.
Sexual activity enables spreading of other diseases although they are possible to get in other way – Epstein Barr virus (mononucleosis), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV.
Risk factors in sexually transmitted diseases
A sexually transmitted disease can often occur even in faithful and committed partners. It is possible to be infected by herpes and not even know it (just be a carrier). In time the infection will be transmitted to the partner. Of course, the transmission of these diseases is more common in people who change their partners.
- Beginning of sexual activity in early adolescent age. Adolescent often worry after, and not before the intercourse. Half of all these diseases is diagnosed in persons between the ages of 15 and 24.
- Highly risky intercourse is with a person that already has a sexually transmitted disease. Percentages of disease transmission are staggering and they go around 70 – 80% from one intercourse alone. Oral intercourse is less risky.
- Existence of one sexually transmitted disease carries the risk of being infected by another (HIV or HPV for example) more easily.
- Having a larger number of partners, not just at the same time but also during a longer period of time
- Being a woman. In all ages, women will more often then men have one of the complications that come from infections, such as infertility, carcinomas. In young girls, the cervix is made of cells that change constantly. These unstable cells make the cervix vulnerable and sensitive to viruses and bacteria.
A timely therapy can prevent complications. Unfortunately symptoms can be noticed after a long period of time. Arthritis, eye inflammation, inflammation of the pelvis, infertility, cervix carcinoma, other carcinomas including lymphomas caused by HIV, heart disease, memory disorders, fetal damage.
Therapy for sexually transmitted diseases
Antibiotics can cure many of the sexually transmitted diseases including: gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia and trichomonas. Therapy must be conducted fully and in full dosage, no matter if the hardships go away. Most sexually transmitted diseases are not treatable! There are vaccines for HBV and HPV.
Any knowledge of you having one of the sexually transmited diseases is a trauma. You can feel betrayal or shame. The worst thing is that some of these diseases can determine your life, even with the best therapy. Before this come potential losses – loss of trust, plans of having children, enjoying your sexuality.
Spec. Dr. Svetlana Djurisic, dermatologist