Sexually transmitted diseases STDs are usually contracted through sexual contact with an infected person. The organisms that cause these diseases are transmitted on from one person to another through semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and other bodily fluids.
Also, these ailments can be transmitted by a mother to her child during childbirth. Similarly, they can be passed on through blood transfusions or sharing of contaminated sharp objects. These illnesses can be contracted from people who look healthy and who don’t know they’ve been infected.
Though sexual activity is one of the causes of the spread of many diseases, but it’s very possible to contract a disease without having sexual relations. Latex condoms may lower the risk of contracting and spreading STDs, but it doesn’t completely eliminate it.
Most people don’t take any measures to protect themselves despite the risks involved. Also, there’s lack of education about most STDs, and how they’re spread and transmitted.
Symptoms of STDs
STDs commonly known as venereal diseases, appear with a series of symptoms or signs that can sometimes go undetected.
Generally some symptoms include:
- Pain while passing out urine
- Sores or lesions on the genitals, rectum, or on the mouth
- Abnormal discharge from the penis
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Genital warts
- Foul-smelling and yellowish vaginal discharge
- Skin rash on feet, hands, and torso
- Groin pain as a result of swollen lymph nodes
- inflammation, and pain in the penis, vagina, anus, and vulva
- Pain and irritation in the genitals
- Pubic lice/crabs
- Irritated urethra
- Body pain
- Blemishes or rashes on or around the genitals,
- Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis A, B, C, D),
- Bleeding between periods or during sex,
Many of these symptoms can arise from other diseases that aren’t sexually transmitted. That’s why it’s vital to get tested to be sure which condition is causing your symptoms.
Causes of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDs can be caused by different types of microorganisms, such as:
- Trichomoniasis parasites:lice, scabies;
- Bacteria:gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis;
- Viruses:genital herpes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and hepatitis B and C
When STDs are caused by parasites and bacteria, they can be treated with antibiotics. However, there is no cure for those that are caused by a virus.
Anyone who is sexually active can contract an STD. However, there are factors that increase a person’s risk, such as:
- Having unprotected sex; unprotected vaginal or anal penetration with an infected person
- Inappropriate use of condoms or prophylactics
- Oral sex with a condom or dental dam
- Sexual relations with multiple partners
- Having contracted an STD in the past increases the chances of getting another STD
- Forced sexual relations or rape
- Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol; these substances remove your inhibitions and can lead to risky activities
- Sharing needles increases the chances of contracting an STD,
- Being a teenager. At this age, the cervix is immature and formed by cells that are constantly changing. This makes a person more vulnerable to STDs.
How to decrease your risk of contracting an STD
- Use condoms.
- Avoid frequently changing partners.
- Use condoms for oral sex on a male
- Use condoms or other birth control methods appropriately.
- Get testedbefore having sexual relations with new partners.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Use a dental dam for oral sex on a female
- Communication. Discuss with your partner and go for tests before engaging in sexual activity.
The most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Gonorrhea or “the clap”
Gonorrhea, also called “the clap” is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that affects the cervix, urethra, rectum, anus, and throat. Gonorrhea can lead to infertility. It can also affect babies during pregnancy.
Chlamydia can be passed on through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. It can also be spread by sharing sex toys from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth. In most cases, no symptoms appear, and it can affect the urethra, rectum, cervical cells, and in some cases, the eyes and throat.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
The human immunodeficiency virus destroys immune system cells, thereby decreasing the body’s ability to protect itself from other infections and illnesses. It can be contracted through vaginal unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex or through infected objects that are sharp. Also, a mother can transmit it to her child during childbirth. There is no cure for HIV, and there’s a high chance of developing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
READ ALSO: What Do HIV Skin Lesions Look Like?
Syphilis is a highly deadly bacterial STD that is usually transmitted through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. However, it can also be spread through shared sex toys, blood transfusions, and contact with an infected person’s sores. A mother can also pass it onto her child during the birth process.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus and spread through direct contact of infected skin during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Symptoms can become noticeable years after contracting the virus. Genital herpes has no cure, but its symptoms can be treated.
READ ALSO: Genital Herpes: Types, Symptoms & Treatment
Trichomoniasis is a very common type of bacteria that can be transmitted by sexual activity. It infects the cells of the vagina and the urethra. It affects mostly sexually active young women and can be passed on from mother to child during pregnancy. Sometimes, symptoms don’t appear.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS attacks the immune system of the body. It is the result of being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS is transmitted through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Many people who have it don’t show symptoms, while others have symptoms similar to those of the flu. There is yet no cure for AIDS, however, antivirals can be used to counter the disease and prolong the life of an infected person.
Candidiasis (yeast infection)
The fungus that causes yeast infections lodges in a person’s genitals, skin, and mouth. It can be kept under control, but sometimes the fungus grows and causes this infection. Oftentimes, an infected person will show no symptoms. Apart from sex toys, yeast infections can also be spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. If you have this STD, it’s better to avoid tight clothing made of synthetic fabrics that restrict free air flow.
Pubic lice are small parasites that fastens on to the skin and feed on blood. They live in pubic hair, although they can also be found in armpit, facial, or chest hair. They are grayish-yellow and can be easily transmitted during sexual intercourse. However, they can also be spread through towels, bedding, and clothing.
READ ALSO: Pubic Lice (Crabs): All You Need to Know
Symptoms of pubic lice infestation include skin irritation and inflammation. They can be removed using a special shampoo. The bedding, clothing, and towels must be disinfected too.
Condylomas, also called genital warts, are caused by the human papillomavirus(HPV). It’s spread through oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as skin to skin contact with an infected person. The warts appear on the genitals and anus. Condyloma can grow to look like cauliflower when left untreated. This STD increases the risk of cervical cancer. There’s no cure for HPV, but condylomas can be treated with medication and some can be surgically removed.