In the United States alone each year, 20 million new STD cases are registered according to the statistics given by the CDC. It is not an overstatement to state that STD is one of the primary infectious diseases worldwide. It is highly painful to know that 20 out of every 100 fresh cases registered every year are adolescents (age group 15-20). So, you can imagine that how fast this deadly infectious disease is spreading amongst youngsters. The only reason behind this data is more and more young people are becoming sexually active every day without knowing the long-term consequences.
And every year around 16 billion dollars are being spent for STD alone in America. By 2025, 50% of all women and 40% of all men would be infected with some type of STD if the disease is going to spread at this rate. Sexually Transmitted Diseases or simply called as STD spreads via sexual transmission from infected partner to the other. The figures have been constantly rising among gay population in the country and Chlamydia was the leading cause of infection in them next to HPV. Men who have sex with men and bisexuals are infected with HPV and genital warts and these men have 20 times more chance to get an infection than heterosexual men.
Contrary to your imagination, STD does not spread through sexual intercourse alone. It can very much spread through oral sex also and by exchange of bodily fluids or blood. STD can also spread through unsterilized needles. And it is not necessary that you would have noticeable symptoms if you are infected with STD. Many women have Chlamydia and genital herpes in them without having a single symptom.
Causes of STD :
- One can get STD by indulging in any type of sexual activity. This infection is commonly caused by bacteria and virus and sometimes by fungus and parasites.
- Bacteria like Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhea, Chlamydia trachomatis and Treponema pallidum are responsible for causing STD.
- Viruses like Herpes simplex virus, HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), Hepatitis viruses and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) are leading causes of STD.
- Fungus like Tenia Curtis and Candida albicans can cause Jock itch and other infections. STD can even be caused by parasites like Pediculosis pubis (that cause pubic lice) and Sarcoptes scabiei (that cause scabies).
Symptoms of STD :
There is every chance that you are likely to carry some infection in your body without any symptom. And by having sex with other person (s) you are likely to pass on the infection to them. You should not hope or think that your partner does not have STD/STI but be sure about it with proof. It is very much necessary to get diagnosed if you think you have an infection failing which you can spread the disease to innocent others.
STD can either be without any signs (asymptomatic) or with mild to severe symptoms. Any type of sexual act like vaginal, anal or oral sex can spread the infection.
Some of the common symptoms of bacterial infection through sex are :
- Burning pain on the genitals
- Foul smelling discharge from the vagina/penis
- Pain while passing urine
- Moderate to severe itching on private parts
- Formation of painful blisters in the genitals
- Can cause infertility in women in serious cases if infected with Chlamydia
- Pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy if infected with Gonorrhea
- Fever, headache and joint pain are common symptoms if infected with Syphilis
If STD is caused by viruses like Genital herpes it can cause blister like painful sores on the private parts and in severe cases the infection can spread to the infant in the womb. Genital warts are painless skin lesions caused by HPV which are usually harmless but it can spread to sex partners.
Hepatitis B and D belong to sexually transmitted diseases and it gets transmitted through blood. Some of the serious symptoms of hepatitis include inflammation of liver and liver cirrhosis. It can also cause discoloration of the skin and eyes in the initial stage with fever and body pain. HIV or AIDS is one of the deadly infection spread through sex and using unsterilized needles. The chances of getting HIV are more if the person already has any kind of sexual infection. For almost a decade the person may not have any symptoms but the viruses would gradually reduce the function of immune system. In severe cases HIV can cause dementia, cancer and even death.
Viruses like Molluscum contagiosum can easily spread by direct skin contact which causes small red papules on the skin. Fungal infection from Candida can cause cottage cheese like discharge from the vagina and sometimes it can cause bluish color on the vaginal skin (popularly called Blue Waffle disease). Parasites can also cause STD but the effects are mild and harmless. It can cause severe itching on the genitals due to the presence of pubic lice which lays eggs on this area. It can be easily controlled with creams and anti-lice lotions. Scabies are also parasitic infection causing intense itching during night.
Method Of Transmission :
- STD is likely to spread through sexual intercourse or any type of sexual contact like oral sex, anal sex and vaginal intercourse. Some types of infections can easily spread via direct skin-to-skin contact also.
- Using condom in sex does not guarantee that you may not get infection. But the possibility is drastically reduced by using it.
- Infections like Hepatitis can spread through blood. A person receiving the blood of infected person would get infected with hepatitis.
When To Contact Your GP :
- Regular screening is advisable for both men and women who have additional sex partners. Complete medical evaluation is to be done if you think that you might have an infection.
- By postponing it you are likely to transmit the infection to your partner also.
- You need not wait for the symptoms to appear before checking with your doctor, because there can be infection without any symptoms.
Blood test is to be done for checking the presence of bacteria/virus or other parasites. After completing the physical examination, your GP would order for blood sample and listen to other symptoms like vaginal discharge/itching/burning pain. Report of the blood sample can confirm his diagnosis.
Most of the infectious diseases from sex is curable and can be completely treated. The more the delay in diagnosing the infection, the more will be the damage. Before giving any medication your GP would make sure of the diagnoses. Treatment of STD differs with the causative factor. For bacterial infection, your doctor would prescribe strong doses of antibiotics. In severe cases antibiotic injection would be given to manage the symptoms. Topical creams that contain antibiotics are recommended to manage pain and itching. Viral infections can be treated with antiviral drugs. However it cannot be completely cured in some cases but the symptoms can be managed.
Follow up :
- Do complete the course of medication given by your doctor even the symptoms have disappeared.
- For any type of STD you need to follow the instructions of your doctor in making visits to the hospital regularly. Relapse is always possible in many infectious diseases and make sure that the harmful element is completely removed from the body.
- To sum up, the sooner you pay visit to the clinic, the sooner will be the recovery. By delaying the check-up you are passing on the infection to others.
- In case of any doubt, do not hesitate to tell your partner and insist for his/her checkup also.
How Can You Prevent STD?
- STD can be easily prevented if you are alert /careful and practice safe sex.
- Avoid having sex with strangers and multiple partners.
- Postpone having sex if you are of young age. If you become sexually active at young age, you are at high lifetime risk by getting infected.
- Go for regular screening and insist your children also to get screened.
- Educate your daughter/son about the consequences of STD so that they would think twice before having sex.
- Insist on using condom each time you have sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal douching should be avoided since you are removing the good bacteria inviting more trouble.
- For some infectious diseases like HPV and hepatitis vaccination is available.
- Lastly you can prevent getting STD if you can limit yourself with one sex partner alone who maintains unisex with you only.