Sexually Transmitted Infections: Types of STIs, Its Complications, Preventions, and Symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Infections: Here’s all you need to know about different types of Sexually Transmitted Infections, their symptoms, risk factors, and prevention tips for STIs by health experts
Sexually Transmitted Infections or STIs are health concern around the world that affects millions of people every year and are infections that a patient suffers following any kind of sexual activities involving the vagina, mouth, anus in women, or anus, mouth, and penis in men.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 30 different species of bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be transmitted through sexual contact, infecting more than 1 million people each day.
Several STIs that affect humans and later, also hamper their sexual and reproductive health, causing infertility:
Types of STIs
Types of STIs: The most common types of sexually transmitted infections include:
According to WHO predictions, chlamydia is the most common STI, with 129 million individuals affected by 2020.
It is a bacterial STI caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, and symptoms include discomfort or a burning feeling while peeing, abnormal discharge from the penis, rectal pain, and pain, swelling, or soreness in the testicles.
If the illness was obtained through anal or oral intercourse, a sore throat may develop.
Chlamydia can induce fallopian tube inflammation and scarring in women, preventing the ovum from being fertilized by a sperm.
HPV can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 10-15% of women infected developing PID.
According to WHO data, gonorrhea is caused by a kind of bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae and caused the second-highest number of STIs in 2020, with 82 million cases.
If left untreated, it can extend to the uterus and fallopian tubes in women, causing PID, whereas in males, it can cause epididymitis, an inflammation of the epididymis. The fertilization of the egg with the sperm is hampered in certain circumstances.
Syphilis infected 7.1 million people in 2020, as per the WHO, and is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. It is transferred when an infected individual comes in direct touch with a sore called a chancre and can be spread from a mother to her infant during pregnancy. Syphilis, if left untreated, can harm organs, especially those linked with the reproductive system, as well as nerves. Such issues can lead to infertility in both men and women.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus, as the name implies, is a virus that causes illnesses when transferred sexually. It is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer in women, impacting the cervix and a woman’s ability to procreate. It can induce genital warts in males.
Risk factors for STIs as:
- Being sexually active.
- Not using condoms as a means of protection.
- Sharing needles which may occur during tattooing, piercing, or taking intravenous drugs, substance use disorder
- Having multiple sexual partners.
Complications of STIs
STIs can cause severe complications if untreated for example HIV leads to AIDS, and syphilis causing can damage organs, the nervous system, and the fetus.
Complications of STI in women can attribute to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms of STIs
Symptoms generally appear within hours to a few days following sexual intimacy. The most frequent STI signs are burning discharge or itching around the vaginal region, which is seldom symptomatic.
Because these illnesses are extremely infectious, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends frequent STD screening or testing.
Sexually transmitted viruses, like HIV, can be dangerous and have no treatment, thus the general public should be cautious of promiscuous conduct and use some type of protection.”
The following are the signs of a sexually transmitted illness, according to a health expert:
- Abnormal intermittent bleeding
- Dyspareunia (painful sex)
- Painful or frequent urination
- Swelling or severe infection OR severe itching of the vagina or penis
- Bumps, sores, or warts on or near the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus
- Penile discharge or vaginal discharge which is foul smelling
These are the local symptoms. STIs are sometimes linked to widespread skin rashes, diarrhoea that causes weight loss, night sweats, body aches, fever with chills, and jaundice.
Blood, urine, semen, saliva, and other bodily fluids with mucous linings are the primary entry points for sexually transmitted diseases.
Diagnosis of STIs:
Currently, there are specific tests available for early and prompt diagnosis, which include a urine test, cheek swab, blood test, and a swab from the sores on the vagina, urethra, cervix, penis, anus, or throat. Principles of treatment to lessen the symptoms or to reduce the likelihood of spreading infection could be oral or parenteral (IV), antibacterial or antiviral.”
How to prevent STIs:
Abstinence: The best and most effective way to protect oneself from contracting STIs is abstaining from sex when not married.
Limit sexual partners or staying Faithful: Reducing the number of sexual partners can also reduce the risk of contracting STIs
Interaction with partners: Open communication with sexual partners about STIs is very crucial.
Use of condoms: Condoms are an effective method for preventing the spread of STIs. Latex or polyurethane condoms can be used during vaginal, anal, or oral sex to reduce the risk of transmission. The condom also protects against unwanted pregnancies, hence being referred to as ‘’dual protection’’
Vaccination: Vaccines are available for some STIs, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B. It is important to speak to a healthcare provider to determine if vaccination is recommended
Get tested regularly: Testing can help detect infections early and prevent the spread of the infection to others
Credit: Centre for Disease Control