What is STD?
STDs or sexually transmitted diseases are infections that get transferred due to sexual behavior such as vaginal intercourse, anal sex or oral sex in humans. IV needles, breastfeeding or childbirth has also been associated with the transmission of STDs.
VD (Venereal disease) or STI (Sexually transmitted infection) are other names by which it is known. The term infection is more appropriate than disease in this case because it is wider in meaning.
Causes for STDs
Sexual contact of any kind can transmit the infection from one person to another. It is mostly caused by bacteria and viruses. Parasites, fungi and protozoa’s are also known to cause STDs.
Diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
There is no procedure that can test the person for all infection causing agents. STI tests can be useful for various reasons:
- The cause of illness or symptom can be determined (diagnosis)
- Presymptomatic or asymptomatic infections can be detected (screening)
- To ensure that prospective partners (sexual) are not infected
- Pregnancy (to avoid putting the child at risk)
- In infants (to make sure the mother has not transmitted it)
- To check for infection in donated organs and blood
- In contact tracing
- In epidemiological surveillance
Symptoms may or may not be present in infected people. Untreated, STIs can result in chronic pain, infertility or death. During the incubation period of the infection, tests will show negative result. Early diagnosis will check the spread of the infection to others.
Exams and tests for STDs
For certain STDs (pubic lice), tests are not required to confirm its presence. Others might require blood tests or analysis of samples of the abnormal fluids (from penis or vagina) in a lab. Results are immediately available in certain cases and in some cases it can take days.
Prevention for STDs
Prevention is vital in the case of STIs that cannot be cured (Herpes & HIV). Avoidance of contact with the fluids and body parts of an infected person is an effective preventive method. Condoms are useful in most cases. If used correctly, it reduces the risk of contact. Testing for STIs before initiating or resuming sexual activity with a partner is ideal.
Vaccination- Certain types of viral STIs like Hepatitis A & B and Herpes have vaccines that protect against the diseases. Vaccines are also available for certain kinds of HPV.
Condoms- Condoms are effective only if properly used. They prevent infection only in the areas that they cover. Exposed areas can still get infected by STDs. Diseases like HIV cannot pass through unbroken skin, requiring contact with body fluids to be transmitted. Use of condoms can effectively prevent the transmission of HIV between partners. However, if open wounds or broken skin is present on the body during sexual contact, the risk of STD transmission increases. Latex condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of STDs, as the pores of latex condoms are so small that even virus’ are too large to pass through.
Symptoms of STDs
Common STDs exhibit a number of symptoms with a wide variety of complications that involve even death. The symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases have been classified according to the cause of infection.
- Painful ulcers in the genital area
- Vaginal or Penal discharge
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)
- Genital sores
- Liver inflammation
- Yellowish skin
- Liver cancer
- Fever or chills
- Intense itching(worsens at night)
- Skin around groin is itchy and reddish
- Discharge from vagina/penis
- Burning sensation around penis/vagina
- Vaginal discharge
Treatment for STDs
When the exposure to infection is considered very risky like in a rape case, prophylactic treatment can be done using a combination of antibiotics like azithromycin, metronidazole and cefixime. PDPT (Patient-delivered partner therapy) is an option for partners of people already infected. In this case the health care giver does not have to examine the partner.
Types of primary STD
- Tinea cruris
- Viral hepatitis
- Herpes simplex
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Crab louse