Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Not really the same thing. An infection is when bacteria, viruses or parasites invade the body - and it always precedes the disease. Although infection can cause zero symptoms, the disease is usually always characterized by clear signs. Sexually transmitted disease (STD) always starts with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections that are transmitted from one person to another through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. But sometimes these infections can also be transmitted asexually, for example, from mothers to babies during pregnancy or childbirth, through the use of blood transfusions or common needles, and through other physical contact (e.g., herpes and human papillomavirus spread through skin-to-skin contact).
STIs do not always cause symptoms. It is possible to get sexually transmitted infections from people who look completely healthy and may not even know they have the infection.
There are more than 20 species of sexually transmitted pathogens, including:
- Chlamydia Trachomatis (urogenital chlamydia)
- Neisseria Gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea)
- Trichomonas Vaginalis
- Ureaplasma Urealyticum
- Mycoplasma genitalium
- Genital herpes
- HIV / AIDS (HIV / AIDS)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Treponema Pallidum (syphilis) and others.
Who suffers from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has STDs, this can lead to serious health problems for the baby.
Sexually Transmitted Infections / Diseases are caused by:
- Bacteria (Gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia)
- Parasites (Trichomoniasis)
- Viruses (HPV, genital herpes and HIV)
- Other types of infections (Hepatitis A, B and C viruses, infections caused by Shigella and Giardia, which can also be spread through sexual contact)
STDs or STIs can have a number of signs and symptoms, or can be completely asymptomatic. Therefore they may go unnoticed even before complications develop.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate STIs include:
- Ulcers or bumps on the genitals, mouth or rectum;
- Painful urination;
- Burning sensation when urinating;
- Discharge from the penis;
- Unusual or odorous vaginal discharge;
- Unusual vaginal bleeding;
- Painful or swollen testicles;
- Itching in or around the vagina;
- Pain during sexual intercourse;
- Painful, swollen lymph nodes, especially in the groin area, but sometimes more widespread;
- Pain in the lower abdomen;
- Rash on the body, upper and lower extremities
Signs and symptoms may appear within a few days of exposure. However, the clinical manifestation of the disease can take years before you have any noticeable problems, it depends on the microorganism causing the STI.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STDs or STDs to some degree. Factors that may increase this risk include:
- Unprotected sexual contact. Failure to use a condom, incorrect or inconsistent use may increase the risk of transmitting the infection. Oral sex may be less risky, but infections can still be transmitted without a latex condom or other protective means.
- Sexual contact with multiple partners. The more people you have sexual contact with, the greater the risk of getting an infection.
- History of sexually transmitted infection. Once infected it makes it easier to become infected with another sexually transmitted infection.
- Violence. Rape or assault is difficult to deal with, but it is important to consult a doctor, get treatment, and get emotional support as soon as possible.
- Alcohol or drug abuse. Substance abuse can impair your thinking, forcing you to engage in risky behaviors.
- Intravenous drug use. Needle sharing spreads many serious infections, including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
- Age. Half of new infections occur in people aged 15 to 24 years.
When to see a doctor?
Contact your doctor immediately if:
- You are sexually active and think you may have a sexually transmitted infection;
- You have the signs and symptoms of STIs.
Consult your doctor:
- When you plan to become sexually active or if you are 21;
- Before you have sex with a new partner.
Sexually Transmitted Infections and Pregnancy
Some STIs - such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis - can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Infection in infants can cause serious problems or even death.
Recommendations for pregnant women:
- Get screened for STIs, including HIV and syphilis, to avoid complications and get timely treatment if needed;
- Talk to your doctor if you have STDs. They may need to check how safe the medication is for you or whether it is possible to delay treatment if necessary;
- Keep in mind that a caesarean section may be necessary - especially if genital warts make it difficult to give birth.
Because many people do not have symptoms of STDs or STDs in the early stages, STI screening is important to prevent complications.
Possible complications include:
- Pelvic pain
- Complications of pregnancy
- Inflammation of the eye
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Heart disease
- Some cancers, such as HPV-associated cervical and rectal cancers
If, based on your sexual history and current signs and symptoms, you are likely to have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), your doctor will perform a physical and pelvic exam to look for signs of infection, such as a rash, warts, or discharge.
Laboratory tests can detect the cause and detect a co-infection you may have.
- Blood tests
- Examination of urine samples
- Smear examination
- Examination of fluid samples (If you have open genital ulcers, your doctor may examine fluid and samples from the ulcers to determine the type of infection)
After the potential impact of the infection, you may think that it is better to get tested immediately, however, keep in mind that you will not be positive for this or that infection after the impact, although this does not rule out the possibility of infection. You will have to wait a certain period and only then will you be tested, but during the waiting period it is recommended to consult a doctor who will provide you with detailed information about sexually transmitted diseases and test dates.
Who should be screened for sexually transmitted infections?
- Everyone. One of the STI screening tests recommended for all people between the ages of 13 and 64 is a blood or saliva test for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a virus that causes AIDS. Experts recommend that people at high risk be tested for HIV every year.
- Women 21 years and older (HPV). A Pap test checks for changes in cervical cells, including inflammation, precancerous changes, and cancer. Cervical cancer is often caused by certain strains of HPV. Experts recommend that women have a Pap test every three years from the age of 21. After 30 years - HPV test and Pap test once every five years or, Pap test only or HPV test only once every three years.
- Sexually active women under the age of 25 (chlamydia, pneumonia); Experts recommend that all sexually active women under the age of 25 be tested for chlamydia. Get tested every time you have a new partner because chlamydia can occur more than once. Gonorrhea screening is also recommended in sexually active women under 25 years of age.
- Pregnant women (Chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, HIV);
- Homosexual men; Compared to other groups, homosexual men are at a higher risk of contracting STIs. Many public health groups recommend GHG screening for these men each year or more frequently. Regular testing for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea is especially important. Hepatitis B assessment may also be recommended.
- People diagnosed HIVThere; If you have HIV, this dramatically increases your risk of becoming infected with other STIs, so immediate testing for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes is recommended immediately upon diagnosis.
- People who have many partners;
- People who have a new partner;
Bacterial STDs or STIs are easier to treat. Viral infections can be managed, but not always cured.
If you are pregnant and have STIs, starting treatment immediately can prevent or reduce your baby's risk of infection.
Treatment of STIs according to the cause includes:
Antibiotics. Antibiotics can cure many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections, including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. You usually treat gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time, as these two infections often occur together.
In addition, it is important to abstain from sexual contact for seven days after completing antibiotic therapy and healing any ulcers. Experts also suggest that women should be re-tested in about three months as there is a high chance of re-infection.
Antiviral drugs. If you have herpes or HIV, your doctor will prescribe antiviral drugs.
Antiviral drugs can control HIV for many years to come. But you will still have the virus and you can still transmit it, although the risk is lower.
The earlier you start, the more effective your HIV treatment will be. If you take your medication exactly as indicated, it is possible to reduce the viral load in the blood so that it is difficult to detect.
There are several ways to prevent or reduce the risk of STDs or STIs:
- Refrain from suspicious sexual contact. The most effective way to prevent sexually transmitted infections is to abstain from sexual contact.
- Stay with one uninfected partner. Another reliable way to prevent STIs is a long-term relationship in which both people have sexual contact only with each other and neither partner is infected.
- Aitseri. Early vaccination, before sexual contact, is also effective in preventing certain types of STIs. Vaccines are available for the prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A and B. Get detailed information about vaccinations from your doctor.
- Use a condom consistently and correctly. Use a new latex condom for each sexual intercourse.
Non-barrier forms of contraception, such as birth control pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs), do not protect against STIs.
- Do not drink too much alcohol and do not use drugs. If you are under the influence, you are more likely to take a risk.
- Communication. Before having any serious sexual contact, talk to your partner about safe sexual contact practices.
Contact your doctor for information on other preventative measures.
It can be traumatic to find out if you have a sexually transmitted infection or disease; In this case, these tips will help you:
Avoid blaming anyone - You or your partner may have been infected from previous partners.
Be honest with health care workers - Their job is not to judge you, but to treat and stop the spread of STIs. Everything you tell them remains confidential.
Contact your doctor - Local health departments have sexually transmitted infections programs that provide confidential testing, treatment, and other necessary services.
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