STDs or sexually transmitted diseases are diseases that are generally transmitted via sexual contact. They are often caused by viruses and bacteria that get passed on from one person to another through semen, vaginal fluid, blood, and other bodily fluids. If not diagnosed and treated right away, they can bring about several symptoms and complications that can significantly impact your sex life and other important bodily functions.
What are the common signs and symptoms of STDs?
Many STDs do not trigger noticeable signs and symptoms upon infection, so a lot of people who contract them do not know they have been infected until severe complications arise or until they undergo an STD test. But, if they cause signs and symptoms to appear, the following are the most common ones:
- Strange-colored discharge from the genitals
- Foul-smelling discharge from the genitals
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Bumps or sores on the genitals or rectal area
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Rash around the genital area, hands, or feet
What causes STDs?
There are three primary causes of STDs, and they are:
- Viruses – Examples of STDs caused by viruses are HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus.
- Bacteria – Examples of STDs caused by bacteria are Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
- Parasites – An example of an STD caused by parasites is trichomoniasis.
What are the risk factors associated with STDs?
People who are sexually active are at risk of contracting STDs. However, the risk increases much higher if they:
Engage in unprotected sex
Having sex without using condoms puts you at great risk of contracting an STD. If you have sex with someone who has an STD and did not use condoms, your odds of getting infected are very high. Thus, for your protection, you always have to wear condoms.
Have multiple sex partners
If you have multiple sex partners, your risk of getting an STD is higher than someone who is in a monogamous relationship. It is important that you and your sex partners get STD tested to detect any STDs early on and receive treatment right away.
Have a history of STDs
If you have been infected with an STD before, the likelihood of you contracting another STD is high. You have to regularly visit your doctor and get an STD test to make sure that you are healthy and not in danger of STD complications.
If used needles are shared or recycled, they can spread HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other infections. For your safety, never use used needles for drugs, tattoos, blood transfusion, and other purposes.
Are into recreational drug use or excessive alcohol drinking
Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment and make you more likely to take part in risky and reckless behaviors, such as having sex without a condom and sharing needles to inject drugs, exposing you to STDs and other health risks.
Can STDs be transmitted from an infected mother to her child?
In some cases, STDs are passed on from an infected mother to her unborn. If you are pregnant and you have been infected with syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, or some other STD, you can transmit the diseases to your baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
To not put your baby in danger, you have to go through the routine STD screening required for pregnant women. If you are tested positive, you should get treatment for your STD right away. Talk to your doctor about the different options, as STDs can be fatal to babies.
How are STDs diagnosed?
There are several types of tests available to diagnose STDs. The following are the most widely used:
- Blood tests – These are conducted by taking a sample of your blood to detect traces of the virus or bacteria that caused the STD. They are often used to diagnose HIV and late-stage syphilis.
- Fluid sample tests – These are done by taking a fluid sample from your discharge or an active genital sore.
- Urine tests – These are conducted by examining a sample of your urine to look for traces of an infection. These are typically used to diagnose gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
What are the treatment methods available to cure STDs?
Your doctor will recommend a treatment method for your STD depending on what caused the infection.
STDs caused by bacteria and parasites are often treated with antibiotics. So, if you have been diagnosed with Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or trichomoniasis, your doctor will likely prescribe some antibiotics, such as azithromycin, ceftriaxone, and doxycycline.
STDs caused by viruses are often treated with antivirals. So, if you have been diagnosed with herpes or HIV, for example, your doctor will likely prescribe antiviral drugs that can suppress the virus and lower the risk of spreading the infection.
How do you prevent STDs?
Prevention is always better than cure, so you have to know how you can prevent STDs to not endanger your sex life and overall health and wellbeing.
Get an STD test regularly
If you are sexually active, you should get an STD test before starting a new sexual relationship. You should also convince your new sex partner to do the same. That way, you are both protected from any STD that may be hiding in either of you.
Use condoms and other protection
Using condoms or some other protective barrier when engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal sex is vital to keeping the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause STDs away. Even though they do not guarantee 100% protection, they can significantly reduce your risk of contracting STDs.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
If you abuse drugs and alcohol, the elements found in these substances can mess up your brain function and prevent you from making smart decisions when it comes to sex.