What are sexually transmitted infections?
A sexually transmitted infection (disease) is transmitted from one person to another mainly through unprotected sexual contact. Sexual contact can be vaginal, anal or oral. However, the transmission of these infections is not always related to sexual contact. For example, some are transmitted through physical contact with intimate areas, from mother to fetus during pregnancy and childbirth, through shared needles (used by other people), the use of personal items, and blood transfusions. Sexually transmitted diseases are: AIDS, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, some forms of hepatitis, etc. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are widespread. They are caused by more than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites.
STI symptoms and complications
Most sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. For example, 70% of women with gonococcal or chlamydial infections have no symptoms. However, some symptoms indicate a possible STI.
STI symptoms in women:
- Itching or burning in the vaginal area;
- Ulcers, blisters, and other rashes around the vagina, in the perineum, or on other parts of the body;
- Pain during intercourse or urination;
- Lower abdominal pain;
- Usual vaginal discharge or unpleasant odor;
- Fever, etc
STI symptoms in men:
- Pain or burning when urinating;
- White or yellowish discharge from the penis;
- Ulcers, blisters, other rashes or other skin changes on the penis, perineum, or other parts of the body;
- Testicular pain;
- Pain during intercourse or urination
STIs, including asymptomatic ones, cause a number of additional complications:
- The likelihood of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) increases threefold or more;
- Untreated infections, such as Chlamydia and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, can cause infertility;
- Infections can be transmitted from mother to child and cause serious complications later.
The main goals of STI prevention and treatment are to reduce their prevalence, reduce the duration of infection, and prevent further complications.
Most sexually transmitted infections are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Therefore, individuals with a regular sexual life should be tested for STIs at least once a year. However, If a person has multiple sexual partners, uses intravenous drugs, or has unprotected (without a condom) sexual intercourse, screening is recommended once every 3-6 months. The best way to prevent STIs is to have safe sex.
Timely detection of STIs and proper treatment reduce the risk of infection and complications.