What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), often referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections transmitted during sexual contact. Some STDs can be cured with a course of antibiotics, while others are not curable. Some STDs may be present in the body without causing any symptoms at all, while others may cause devastating symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of STDs in men?
In men, STDs can be grouped into three categories:
- STDs that mainly cause genital lesions
- STDs that mostly cause inflammation of the urethra
- STDs that cause symptoms throughout the body (systemic STDs)
Some of the STDs that cause syphilis and gonorrhea can also cause damage to other organs and spread within the body if left untreated.
STDs that cause genital lesions may cause genital warts, painful blisters, or ulcers, depending upon the exact infection. STDs that cause urethritis cause early signs and symptoms often associated with a urinary tract infection including a painful or burning sensation during urination and discharge from the urethra. Below are the signs and symptoms of eight common STDs.
What causes STDs in men?
STDs can be caused by different kinds of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Sexually transmitted viral infections include human papillomavirus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), hepatitis B and C.
- Sexually transmitted bacterial infections include gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia.
- Trichomonas is an example of a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite. Infestations with parasitic bugs, such as scabies or lice, can also be transmitted by close contact and may be acquired during sexual activity.
- Humans contract Zika virus via the bite of an infected vector mosquito and passed on via sexual activities.
List of STDs in men
The following are STDs that can affect sexually active men. Let’s look at the signs, symptoms, and treatments for STDs in men.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It may not always cause symptoms and can remain undiagnosed. Gonorrhea can cause urethritis in men, leading to burning or pain on urination and discharge from the urethra. When symptoms do occur, they develop about 4 to 8 days after contracting the infection. Gonorrhea can also cause infection in the rectum and in the throat. Gonorrhea can spread within the body, causing symptoms like rash and joint pain. Antibiotics, such as cefixime (Suprax) are typically used to treat gonorrhea.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is common in sexually active adults. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Both men and women can be infected, and many of those infected do not actually show any signs or symptoms. However, symptoms of urethritis are the most common if it does show any. It can also cause infection of the epididymis and testes. This infection can be cured with antibiotics such as azithromycin.
This is a sexually transmitted infection is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Most women and men who are infected do not exhibited symptoms, so they may be unaware of the infection. When the infection does cause symptoms, it typically results in urethritis, associated with itching or burning and discharge from the urethra. Trichomonas infection can be cured with a single dose of antibiotic medication. Antibiotics commonly used in the treatment of trichomonas infection are Metronidazole and tinidazole.
The herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) cause painful sores and blisters on sexually exposed areas of the body. They can be transmitted during any type of sexual contact. The HSV type 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores around the mouth, while the HSV type 2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes. Both types of HSV are capable of infecting the genital area. The infected man may have mild or no symptoms at all. The sores can be found on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus, inside the urethra, or on the skin of the thighs of men. The first outbreak of HSV infection may be more severe than later outbreaks and can be followed by swollen lymph nodes and fever.
No cure has yet been found for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is one of the most deadly STD. Infection with the HIV virus can occur during sexual contact, by sharing needles, or from an infected pregnant woman to her baby. The virus causes dysfunction of the body’s immune system. The average time from infection to immune suppression is about 10 years. Some symptoms may include flu-like illness and fever, which comes up about 2 to 4 weeks after they have contracted the virus. Once immune suppression is present, serious complications like dementia, certain cancer and unusual infections may develop. Numerous medications are available to manage the infection, delay or prevent progression of the disease.
Genital warts (HPV)
Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) is a very common STD. Different types of HPV exist and cause different conditions. Some HPVs cause common warts that are not STDs, and other types are spread during sexual activity and cause genital warts. Still other types are the cause of precancerous chances and cancers of the cervix in women. Most people with HPV infection do not develop genital warts or cancers, and the body is often able to clear the infection on its own. When HPV causes genital warts in men, the lesions may be fleshy, soft, raised bumps on the penis or anal area. Sometimes they may be larger and take on a cauliflower-like appearance.
There is no cure for HPV infection, but it often resolves on its own. Treatments to destroy or remove genital warts are also available. Vaccines are available.
Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver transmitted by contact with the blood of an infected person or through sexual activity. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are two viral diseases that can be transmitted by sexual contact. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are similar to the HIV virus. HBV may not cause symptoms, but it causes symptoms of acute hepatitis in about 50% of infections. Those with chronic hepatitis B are at increased risk for the development of liver cancer. There is a very effective vaccine available for the prevention of hepatitis B. Treatment of acute hepatitis involves supportive care and rest, although those with chronic hepatitis may be treated with interferon or antiviral medications.
HCV is rarely transmitted by sexual contact and is usually spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. However, it is possible to transmit this virus as a result of sexual contact. Most people infected with HCV have no symptoms, so a delayed or missed diagnosis is common.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. If not treated, the disease progresses through three phases and can also keep on in a dormant state. The initial manifestation is a painless ulcer known as a chancre at the site of sexual contact. The chancre develops 10 to 90 days after infection and resolves after 3 to 6 weeks. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, but if this first stage is untreated, secondary syphilis can develop where the disease spread to other organs, causing various symptoms that can include swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, arthritis, liver disease or kidney disease. Syphilis can be cured with proper antibiotic treatment.