All you need to know about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one individual to the next through sexual contact. STDs are also alluded to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since they include the transmission of illness-causing organisms from one individual to another during sexual activity. It is imperative to understand that sexual contact includes something beyond sex (vaginal and anal sex) like kissing, oral-genital contact, and the use of sexual “toys like vibrators, dildos, etc. Presumably, STDs have been around for a number of years, but, the riskiest of these conditions, the (AIDS or HIV illness), has just been recognized since 1984. STDs are found both in men and women. In this section, we will talk about the common STDs in women.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an infection brought about by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea (otherwise called gonococcus bacteriae) which is transmitted through sexual contact. It is one of the oldest known STDs.

Gonorrhea thrives on specific conditions, so it cannot be transmitted from toilet seats or door handles. It can’t live outside the body for longer than a couple of minutes, nor would it be able to live on the skin of the hands, arms, or legs. It grows on damp or moist surfaces inside the body and is commonly found in the vagina, cervix, urethra, back of the throat (oral-genital contact), and in the rectum.

Symptoms

  • Burning sensation while urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Yellow vaginal discharge
  • Swelling or redness in genitals
  • Itching & burning in genitals

Treatment

Luckily, gonorrhea can be treated by injectable or oral meds. Gonococcal infections of the cervix, urethra, and rectum, are generally treated by a single injection of ceftriaxone or by oral cefixime (Suprax).

Treatment for gonorrhea and chlamydia go hand-in-hand. Meds like azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) or doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox, and others) are widely used for the treatment. The sexual partners of ladies who have had either gonorrhea or chlamydia must get treatment for the two infections since their partners might be infected too. Treating the partners likewise forestalls reinfection of the woman.

Gonorrhea is one of the simpler STDs to forestall as the bacterium that causes the disease can endure only under specific conditions. The utilization of condoms averts gonorrhea infection. Since the bacteria can live in the throat, condoms ought to be used during oral sex too.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the same as gonorrhea in the manner that it spreads and the symptoms it produces.

The bacterium that causes chlamydia is found in the cervix, urethra, in the throat or rectum. Often, the symptoms are not shown until the later stages of the infection. In this way, these people can spread contamination to other people, unknowingly.

Symptoms

Most ladies with chlamydia don’t have symptoms. Cervicitis (disease of the uterine cervix) is the most widely recognized sign of the infection. While about half of ladies with chlamydial cervicitis have no side effects, others may encounter vaginal release or stomach pain. The infection of the urethra is frequently connected with chlamydial contamination of the cervix. Ladies with infection of the urethra (urethritis) have the common side effects of a UTI, including pain upon urination and constant need to urinate.

Chlamydia can cause extreme pelvic infection. If left untreated, it can give rise to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Since it is normal for infected ladies to have no symptoms, chlamydia is often untreated and brings about broad destruction of the Fallopian tubes, fertility issues, and tubal pregnancy.

Chlamydia like gonorrhea is related to an expanded rate of premature births. What’s more, the baby can acquire the infection during the passage through the tainted birth canal, prompting genuine eye harm or pneumonia. Therefore, all babies are treated with eye drops containing an anti-infection that kills chlamydia. Treatment of all infants is standard in view of the huge number of infected ladies without side effects and the bleak outcomes of chlamydial eye infection to the infant.

Treatment

Treatment of chlamydia includes anti-infection meds. For chlamydia, a single-portion treatment of oral azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) is recommended. Alternative medicines are regularly used, in view of the significant expense of this medication. The most widely recognized alternative treatment is doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox, and others). In contrast to gonorrhea, there has been pretty much nothing, if any, the resistance of chlamydia to current anti-toxins. There are numerous different anti-toxins that likewise have been viable against chlamydia. Similarly, as with gonorrhea, a condom or other protective measures can forestall the spread of the disease.

Syphilis

Syphilis is brought about by a bacterial life form called a spirochete. The spirochete is a twisted, spiral-shaped creature that squirms vivaciously when seen under a microscope. It contaminates the individual by burrowing into the wet, mucous-covered coating of the mouth or genitals. The spirochete creates a painless ulcer known as a chancre.

Symptoms

There are three phases of syphilis, alongside a dormant (latent) stage. An ulcer (chancre) formation is the primary stage. The chancre may develop anytime from 10 to 90 days after the contamination, with an average of 21 days following disease until the primary signs show up. Syphilis is exceptionally infectious when the ulcer is present. The contamination can be passed on from contact with the ulcer that abounds with spirochetes. In the event that the ulcer is outside of the vagina or on the male’s scrotum, condoms may not forestall transmission of the contamination by contact. Also, if the ulcer is in the mouth, just kissing the infected individual can spread the contamination.

In most ladies, an early infection resolves on its own, even without treatment. But some will continue to the second phase of the disease called “secondary” syphilis, which develops weeks to months after the primary stage and lasts for about a month and a half. Secondary syphilis is a phase of the disease, which can include different organ systems of the body. In this stage, patients can at first experience various symptoms, yet most generally they develop a skin rash, normally showing up on the palms of the hands or the bottoms of the feet, that doesn’t itch. At times the skin rash of secondary syphilis is faint and difficult to apprehend; it may not be seen in all cases. This secondary stage can likewise include balding, sore throat, fever, migraines, and white patches on the nose, mouth, and vagina. There can be lesions on the genitals that appear as though genital warts, however, are brought about by spirochetes as opposed to the mole infection. These mole-like lesions, just as the skin rash, are exceptionally infectious. The rash can develop on the palms of the hands and can be transmitted by casual contact. Some patients will keep on bearing the disease in their body without symptoms. This is the supposed idle phase of the disease. At that point, with or without an idle stage, which can keep going up to at least 20 years, the third (tertiary) phase of the ailment can commence. At this stage, syphilis is no longer infectious. Tertiary syphilis is likewise a fundamental phase of the illness and can cause a variety of issues all through the body including:

  • Anomalous swelling of the aorta, bringing about heart issues.
  • The advancement of enormous nodules (gummas) in different organs of the body.
  • Infection of the brain, causing a stroke, mental disarray, meningitis (sort of brain disease), issues with sensation, or weakness (neurosyphilis).
  • Association of the eyes prompting sight weakness; or
  • Inclusion of the ears bringing about deafness. The harm sustained by the body during the tertiary phase of syphilis is serious and can even be deadly.

Treatment

Based on the phase of the ailment and the clinical appearances, the treatment alternatives for syphilis vary. Long-acting penicillin injections have been exceptionally effective in treating both early and late-stage syphilis. The treatment of neurosyphilis requires the intravenous guidance of penicillin. Other alternatives include oral doxycycline or antibiotic medication.

Ladies who are infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus through the placenta. Penicillin must be administered in pregnant patients with syphilis since different antibiotics don’t effectively cross the placenta to treat the infected fetus. If left untreated, syphilis can prompt visual impairment or even death of the newborn child.

Genital Herpes

Herpes results from contamination with the herpes simplex infection (HSV). It triggers sores or blisters to structure in or around the mouth or privates, as well as other symptoms.

There are two sorts of HSV:

  • HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which typically impacts the mouth and surrounding skin.
  • HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which is sexually transmitted.

On the off chance that an individual has an HSV infection, they will have it for a lifetime, however, some people never develop symptoms. There is no cure for herpes, but treatment can help oversee symptoms and diminish the probability of them recurring.

Symptoms

Individuals with herpes may initially encounter shivering, tingling, or burning, followed by sores or blisters forming around the mouth or genitals. Symptoms will in general develop 2–20 days after exposure to the infection. These sores or blisters will in general develop on the penis, around or inside the vagina, on the anus, or on the butt, however, they can pop-up on different regions of skin. Herpes can likewise cause pain when urinating and changes in the vaginal release. The first instance of herpes may last 2-6 weeks. Not long after this underlying episode, symptoms may repeat much of the time. After some time, flare-ups may happen less frequently and the side effects will in general become less serious.

The following symptoms may also be seen –

  • Pain & itching
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Treatment

No medication can thwart of the herpes infection. Although, a doctor may recommend an antiviral prescription like acyclovir, to keep the infection from spreading. OTC herpes medicines like creams can help oversee itching, tingling, and pain. Start treatment inside 24 hours, as soon as initial symptoms begin. Antiviral meds can resolve the symptoms 1–2 days quicker than if they had no treatment. Medicine may likewise decrease the seriousness of the symptoms. On the off chance that an individual has less than six repeats of genital herpes every year, the doctor may recommend an antiviral medicine at every recurrence. In the event that an individual encounters recurrences all the more, the doctor may suggest taking an antiviral for 6-12 months at a time. Taking these drugs each day for longer periods can essentially diminish the danger of passing herpes to a partner, however, it remains a possibility.

Human papillomaviruses & genital warts

In excess of 40 kinds of HPV, which are the reason for genital warts (otherwise called condylomata acuminate or venereal warts), can infect the genital tract of women. These warts are usually passed on during sexual contact. HPV infection has for quite some time been known to be a reason for cervical cancer and other anogenital diseases in women.

Most HPV infections don’t prompt cancer. Yet, a few sorts of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus that associates with the vagina (cervix). Other types of cancers, including cancer of the butt, penis, vagina, vulva, and back of the throat (oropharyngeal), have been connected to HPV infection.

Symptoms

Genital warts

Common warts

Plantar warts

Flat warts

Cervical cancer

Treatment

There is no proper cure for this virus, so the chances of it reappearing is very much possible.

The medications for HPV includes Salicylic acid, Imiquimod, Podofilox, Trichloroacetic acid. The surgical procedure recommended for this condition includes cryotherapy, electrocautery, laser surgery and surgical removal.

Scabies

Scabies is an infectious, strongly irritated skin condition brought about by a small, tunneling mite. Scabies is infectious and spreads rapidly through close physical contact. The most well-known symptom of scabies is extraordinary itching in the area where the mites burrow.  Scabies can be treated by killing the bugs and their eggs with a prescription that is applied starting from the neck and left on for eight hours. The bugs can likewise be killed using oral meds.

Symptoms

The most widely recognized symptom of scabies is extraordinary tingling in the area where the mites tunnel. It is typically found close to the private parts. Individuals may likewise see bumps or redness.

Treatment

Treatment for scabies generally includes ridding of the infestation with balms, creams, and moisturizers that can be applied directly to the skin. Oral prescriptions are additionally available.

The doctor will presumably instruct you to apply the medication around the night time when the bugs are generally active. You may need to treat the entirety of your skin starting from the neck. The medication can be washed off the next morning. Ensure you adhere to your doctor’s guidelines cautiously. You may need to rehash the skin treatment in seven days.

Some basic meds used to treat scabies include:

  • 5 percent permethrin cream
  • 25 percent benzyl benzoate lotion
  • 10 percent sulfur ointment
  • 10 percent crotamiton cream
  • 1 percent lindane lotion

Natural treatment for scabies includes tea tree oil, aloe vera, capsaicin cream, essential oils & antibacterial soap.

HIV/AIDS

AIDS is an incessant, conceivably dangerous condition brought about by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By harming your immune system, HIV meddles with your body’s capacity to battle contamination and disease. Without medicine, it might take a long time before HIV debilitates your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.

There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, yet drugs can drastically slow the movement of the illness.

Symptoms

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary in the phase of the infection.

Primary infection (Acute HIV)

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Night sweat
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Sore throat and painful mouth sores
  • Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
  • Fever
  • Headache

Chronic HIV

In this phase of infection, HIV is still present in the body and in white platelets. Yet, many individuals might not have any side effects or infections during this time. This stage can keep going for a long time in case you’re not getting antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Symptomatic infection

As the infection duplicates and wrecks your immune cells, you may develop the following signs and symptoms –

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Oral yeast infection (thrush)
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Pneumonia

 About the Author:

Dr. Lavanya Kiran is a CHD Distinguished Fellow and Senior Consultant- OBG, Fertility Specialist, Robotic Surgeon – IVF Unit- Incharge at Narayana Health Hospitals, Bangalore.

Disclaimer: This article is written in public interest. CHD Group or the author is not responsible for any information interpreted arbitrarily by the reader. Reader’s discretion advised.

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