Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — are generally acquired by sexual contact. The bacteria, viruses or parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.
Sometimes these infections can be transmitted nonsexual ways, such as from mothers to their infants during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles.
STIs don’t always cause symptoms. It’s possible to contact sexually transmitted infections from people who seem perfectly healthy and may not even know they have an infection.
Causes of Sexually Transmitted Disease
STDs or STIs can be caused by:
- Bacteria. Gonorrohea, syphilis and chlamydia are examples of STIs that are caused by bacteria.
- Parasites. Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite.
- Viruses. STIs caused by viruses include HPV, genital herpes and HIV.
Other kinds of infections — hepatitis A, B and C viruses, shigella infection and giardia infection — can be spread through sexual activity, but it’s possible to be infected without sexual contact.
Anyone who is sexually active risks some degree of exposure to an STD or STI. Factors that may increase that risk include:
- Having unprotected sex. Vaginal or anal penetration by an infected partner who isn’t wearing a latex condom significantly increases the risk of getting an STI. Improper or inconsistent use of condoms can also increase risk.
Oral sex may be less risky, but infections can still be transmitted without a latex condom or a dental dam — a thin, square piece of rubber made with latex or silicone.
- Having sexual contact with multiple partners. The more people you have sexual contact with, the greater your risk.
- Having a history of STIs. Having one STI makes it much easier for another STI to take hold.
- Being forced to engage in sexual activity. Dealing with rape or assault is difficult, but it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to receive screening, treatment and emotional support.
- Misuse of alcohol or use of recreational drugs. Substance misuse can inhibit your judgment, making you more willing to participate in risky behaviors.
- Injecting drugs. Needle sharing spreads many serious infections, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- Being young. Half the new STIs occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Disease
STDs or STIs can have a range of signs and symptoms, including no symptoms. That’s why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed.
Signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odorous vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- A rash over the trunk, hands or feet
Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure. However, it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism causing the STI.
See a doctor immediately if:
- You are sexually active and may have been exposed to an STI
- You have signs and symptoms of an STI
Make an appointment with a doctor:
- When you’re considering becoming sexually active or when you’re 21 — whichever comes first
- Before you start having sex with a new partner
Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Disease
STDs or STIs caused by bacteria are generally easier to treat. Viral infections can be managed but not always cured.
If you are pregnant and have an STI, getting treatment right away can prevent or reduce the risk of your baby becoming infected.
Treatment for STIs usually consists of one of the following, depending on the infection:
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics, often in a single dose, can cure many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections, including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. Typically, you’ll be treated for gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time because the two infections often appear together. Once you start antibiotic treatment, it’s necessary to finish the prescription. If you don’t think you’ll be able to take medication as prescribed, tell your doctor. A shorter, simpler course of treatment may be available.
In addition, it’s important to abstain from sex until seven days after you’ve completed antibiotic treatment and any sores have healed. Experts also suggest women be retested in about three months because there’s a high chance of reinfection.
- Antiviral drugs. If you have herpes or HIV, you’ll be prescribed an antiviral drug. You’ll have fewer herpes recurrences if you take daily suppressive therapy with a prescription antiviral drug. However, it’s still possible to give your partner herpes.
Antiviral drugs can keep HIV infection in check for many years. But you will still carry the virus and can still transmit it, though the risk is lower. The sooner you start HIV treatment, the more effective it is. If you take your medications exactly as directed, it’s possible to reduce the viral load in the blood so that it can hardly be detected.
- Ayurvedic treatment- It is seen that the STDs are also easily cured or controlled with the help of Ayurveda remedies used in treatment. An expert may suggest a host of medicinal herbs that could be for consumption such as Nibadi Churna, Rasnadi Kvath Churna, Nyagrodhadhi Kvath churna, and many more or the expert may suggest medication for topical application such as Somaraji oil and Tamra bhasma.
If you’ve had an STI, ask your doctor how long after treatment you need to be retested. Getting retested will ensure that the treatment worked and that you haven’t been re-infected.
If you wish to discuss about any such problem, you can consult an Ayurveda sexologist doctor
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