By Dr. Sheetal Vishwas Binawade, Sexology
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are infections that spread by means of unprotected sexual intercourse; anal, oral and vaginal sex. In the initial stages, most STDs do not exhibit any sign or symptom.
The STDs can be caused by a large variety of microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites and viruses. Examples of STDs caused by bacteria are gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis. Viral STDs include warts, genital herpes and HIV/AIDS.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have a range of signs and symptoms, including no symptoms. That’s why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. Signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the trunk, hands or feet
Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure, or it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism.
The best method for preventing the spread of STDs is to utilize protective measures during sex. The danger of specific contaminants such as Hepatitis B and a few types of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) can be reduced by inoculation (vaccination).
Safe sexual practices such as using condoms and not having multiple number of sexual partners greatly reduce the risk of contracting or spreading STDs. Circumcision in men could be effective in preventing some infections. Most STDs are either curable or treatable.
STDs such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and chlamydia are capable of being cured, while diseases such as Hepatitis B, herpes, HPV and HIV/AIDS, even though treatable, are not curable.
Preventative measures such as using various combinations of antibiotics like ‘cefixime’, azithromycin and metronidazole can be taken in certain cases; for example, which happens in cases of rape.