Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infectious diseases where the primary mode of transmission is through sexual contact. They may be transmitted from one person to another through blood, semen, vaginal discharge, and other body fluids. These infections may also be spread through other nonsexual modes of transmission such as mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, sharing of infected needles, or infection through blood transfusion.
STDs are a major public health concern throughout the world that may increase the risk of other life-threatening conditions including certain cancers and may also cause congenital anomalies in unborn babies of infected mothers.
What are the Causes of STDs?
STD’s can be caused by various viruses, bacteria, or protozoa. Common types of STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, genital warts, or human papillomavirus (HPV) which may also cause cervical cancer in women, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
What are the Symptoms of STDs?
The symptoms of STD’s vary depending on the type but can include:
- Development of sores or bumps around the genital, rectal, oral area
- Burning pain during urination
- Discharge from the penis or vagina
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Skin rash over hands, feet, and trunk
- Swollen lymph nodes
How are STDs Diagnosed?
Sometimes, the sexually transmissible infection does not cause any symptoms and the infected person can continue to transmit the infection unaware of the condition. Early detection of the infection may be helpful for the successful treatment and prevention of further transmission.
Diagnostic procedures for identification of common STDs include blood tests, urine tests, body fluid sample tests, and specific screening tests for people prone to the infection. Blood and urine tests are helpful in identifying sexually transmissible infections such as advanced stages of syphilis. Fluid sample testing assists in confirming the type of infection and the causative agent.
What are the Treatment Options for STDs?
The treatment will depend on the type of STD infection. The various options include:
- Antibiotics for bacterial STD infections
- Antiviral drugs
- Antifungal drugs
- Antiprotozoal drugs
It is important to abstain from sexual contact until the completion of treatment.
Testing of STD’s
Testing refers to the screening of sexually transmissible infections in asymptomatic individuals who are more vulnerable to the infection. Blood and saliva testing are a common screening test for the HIV virus in patients within the age group of 13 to 64 years. Screening tests for HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and syphilis are mandatory in pregnant women, during the first prenatal visit. Pregnant women may also be at an increased risk of developing gonorrhea and hepatitis C. Hence, screening tests for gonorrhea and hepatitis C are also recommended during pregnancy.
Sexually active women, homosexual men, and HIV positive individuals are more prone to other sexual transmissible infections. Regular screening is advisable for early detection and appropriate management of these infections.