Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs are infections spread by the transfer of organisms from person to person during sexual contact. Persons with an active sex life are at greatest risk, and this risk increases when the number of sexual partners one has increases.

STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of each type of STD so you can protect yourself and get immediate treatment when indicated.

Each of the diseases is caused by a specific microscopic organism and the majority can be treated and cured, with the exception of a few.

BACTERIAL STDs: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis

Symptoms of GONORRHEA

  • Yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Burning of itching of the genitals
  • Redness or soreness of the genitals
  • Pain during sex
  • Spotting between periods and/or decreased menstrual flow

Symptoms of CHLAMYDIA

  • Yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Painful of frequent urination
  • Dull pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Burning or itching of the vagina
  • Bleeding between periods

*75% of women have no symptoms and may go untreated. If untreated, symptoms usually go away in approximately four weeks but the infection remains, often leading to pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility.

Symptoms of SYPHILIS

PRIMARY STAGE: Painless, round to oval bump (called chancres) similar to a pimple, forms on the body. It can appear anywhere but frequently in and around the genitals.

SECONDARY STAGE: If the chancre is not treated, it can last 2 to 8 weeks and then disappears. Usual symptoms are fever, sore throat, headache, hoarseness, loss of appetite, and joint pain mimicking mononucleosis.

A small, scaly, solid rash may also appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, loss of hair, or gray or glistening patches on the tongue and in the mouth.

LATENT STAGE

The disease can lie dormant and the patient may not have visible signs. The disease can attack a variety of body systems such as the brain and spinal cord causing a stroke, insanity, or paralysis.

PARASITIC STDs: Trichomonas

Symptoms of TRICHOMONAS

  • Greenish-yellow, frothy, thin vaginal discharge that may have a foul odor
  • A patch rash in the vagina
  • Vaginal burning and irritation in the genital area and thighs
  • Pain during sex or with urination

TRICHOMAONAS VAGINITIS is a highly contagious disease for both male and females. As many as 70% of males contract this disease after one sexual exposure with an infected female.

VIRAL STDs: Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Hepatitis B and HIV

Symptoms of GENITAL HERPES

  • Tingling, burning, or itching at the site of the infection
  • Small, painful blisters on the genital, buttocks or other area anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before they dry up
  • Headaches, fever, malaise, swollen glands
  • Burning or stinging upon urination

Once the virus enters the body it stays forever. In some cases it remains dormant. Over 50% will suffer from reoccurrences that usually last 5-10 days. Women with herpes can transmit the diseases to their sexual partners even if they have no symptoms of the disease at the time of their contact.

Symptoms of GENITAL WARTS (condyloma/HPV)

Painless fleshy growths that may grow alone or in cauliflower-like groups
Genital warts may be found on the external genitals, but may also occur inside the vagina where they are less easily detected

The HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (HPV) is a fast rising sexually transmitted disease. Over 60 different viruses have been identified. Of these 60 different viruses, 5 are known to cause cervical cancer. Studies have shown that women who have sex at an early age with multiple partners are at a particularly high risk of infection with the papilloma virus.

Symptoms of HEPATITIS

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/ Vomiting

Hepatitis B Virus is now known to be excreted in various body fluids including semen, saliva and feces, implicating sexual contact as a major route for the spread of the disease. There is no cure for Hepatitis B Virus. This infection can be serious as it can lead to chronic hepatitis and liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. Fortunately it can be prevented through vaccination. This is recommended for people with multiple sexual partners.

Symptoms of the HIV VIRUS

A person with HIV may not show any signs of infection or develop AIDS for some period of time. If they do occur after initial exposure to HIV, symptoms may include short, flu-like illness with muscle aches. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes (lumps in armpits, neck, groin)
  • Fever
  • Lingering opportunistic infections (such as pneumonia)
  • Severe outbreaks of herpes
  • Cancers of the lymph nodes or immune system

ASSOCIATED RISKS OF STDs

Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

  • Lower abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Fever
  • Vaginal discharge or abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Nausea/ Vomiting

PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It results from bacteria transmitted during sex. Gonorrhea and chlamydia, either alone or in combination are common causes of PID. This disease is one of the major causes of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. In early stages PID may be hard to diagnose.

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