One of the most terrifying diseases that are existent in the present time and do not have a complete cure in any and every stage of the disease, is the Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD. The disease affects more than 19 million people alone in the United States of America, destroying their immune system, says the reports of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 50% of the people, who are diagnosed with STDs, are within the age group of 15 and 24.
Associated mainly with sexual relationship, some of the STDs can be cured through thorough and intense antibiotic courses and some cannot be cured at all. Although STDs are not of much concern for many people while they are into a sexual relationship, it is a fact that the risk of these diseases is as much a part of sex, as the fun of enjoying it. The existence of this disease has been there for many years but the most dreaded HIV or AIDS is a recent type of STD that was first reported in 1984.
What is STD?
Sexually transmitted disease or STD and sexually transmitted infection or STI, are acquired generally by sexual contact through the blood stream, through vaginal and other body fluids and also through semen. However, it can also be acquired though non-sexual process in which, shared needles are used or blood of the infected person is transfused to another person. Even a pregnant woman with this disease may pass it to the foetus.
Signs and Symptoms of STDs:
There can be a range of signs and symptoms of an STD or STI. But unless they are in severe condition or until the partner is diagnosed with the disease, they are often left unnoticed.
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Bumps and sores in rectal area and genitals or even in mouth
- Painful sex
- Discharge from the penis
- Lower abdominal pain
- Odd and unusual smelling vaginal discharge
- Rash on hand and feet
- Swollen groin, lymph nodes
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Loose stool, weight loss and night sweats
- Yellowing of skin or jaundice.
What is the Cause of STD?
The common reason or cause of the STD or STI being spread from one person to the other is sexual relationship. Although a person may have an STD, it can only spread if he or she has unprotected sex, without using a condom. Hence, if a person has sex with more than one person or has intimate activities with different partners, then there is always a higher risk of acquiring this disease. The more you have multiple sex partners, the more you will have the risk of acquiring the disease. Recently, studies have proven that the earlier a person starts having sex, the more is he or she at the risk of STDs. It is needed to mention at this stage that 39% of the sexually active students have stated that they use condoms while having sex, only 'sometimes' and not always. While talking about the preventive measures, it was found that 40% of women think that every birth control measure is a possible way of preventing STDs and STIs.
What are the Different Types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)?
There are many sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Some are easily curable and some are not. Many men and women have had these diseases and have recovered from them, but many haven't due to the lack of their knowledge. Hence, knowing about them will give a greater idea of whether you have acquired them or not.
Not only in the United States of America and Australia, but also in the rest of the world, this is the most commonly reported STD. Usually and mostly, the disease is spread by vaginal or anal sex. However, even oral sex may lead to occurrence of this disease if your partner has it. It is caused by the bacteria named Chlamydia and hence, its treatment is done by giving a course of anti-biotic. However, diagnosis of this disease in women through the occurrence of its symptoms is difficult as only 25% women get symptoms, whereas 50% men get symptoms of:
- Pain while urinating
- Swollen testicles
- Penile discharge.
1,401,906 Chlamydia infections were diagnosed and reported in the year 2013 in United States of America, reported the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Human Papillomavirus or HPV:
There are more than 150 strains of this group of viruses of which, 40 are considered potentially harmful and others are quite harmless. Almost every sexually active person might have had HPV at some point of time in their lives, but the body gets rid of them on its own. In the United States of America, there are more than 79 million people infected with HPV currently and the CDC states that 14 million new cases of HPV are diagnosed every year. Although oral, anal and vaginal sex, are common ways of acquiring this disease, even skin contact may be enough for a possible occurrence. Usually the disease does not have any strong and prominent symptoms, but genital warts and oral warts can be seen. If left untreated, it can lead to cervical cancer.
Another common STD or STI is this disease that is caused by a bacterium by this name and affects the anus, throat, or urethra. It can occur through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. This is a disease that does not express its symptoms much and those, who acquire the symptoms, are mostly men. Only 20% of women are seen to have got the symptoms of Gonorrhoea.
Caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), this common STD, not only causes the common symptoms of STD, but also causes a dangerous inflammation of the liver. When a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person, he/she is likely to acquire this disease. Most of the infected people do not get any symptoms of this disease and those who do, often confuse them with flu or cough and cold. If left untreated, they can continue causing damage to the liver. Some of the symptoms of Hepatitis B are:
- Feeling lethargic
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle and joint pains
- Loss of appetite
- Low grade fever
As soon as these symptoms are seen, they need to be catered to.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the two strains of Herpes virus. This is a viral infection that can affect the mouth or the genitals. It can be acquired by the infected person through sexual intercourse or oral sex and kissing. Within two days to two weeks of the infection, the symptoms are seen and they are often mistaken with normal skin diseases. However, the initial outbreak of these symptoms can be quite severe and intense and they include:
- Blisters on genitals, buttocks and thighs
- Itching, tingling and burning sensation of the skin
- Swollen lymph nodes and groin
- Blisters on lips, gums, tongue and other upper body parts
- Loss of appetite and feeling unwell
- Pain in the entire body
Curing it is not quite possible as it is a virus. However, through medication, it can be managed.
Syphilis is often considered as a "great imitator" and can occur in four different phases namely primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. Each of these phases has its own set of symptoms and usually starts with a simple sore that looks like a simple cut, ingrown hair or just a bump on the skin. More than 15% of people, who are not treated of this disease at this primary stage, are often led to the final stage. With antibiotics, you can be treated well and the earlier you start, the earlier and faster will be the cure.
HIV or AIDS:
AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is probably the most common name and the known name that is most threatened of. Although HIV is the virus that can cause the deadly disease of AIDS, unlike the other STDs, you cannot get it by skin touch or by kissing. The disease can be acquired only by vaginal or anal intercourse and not by saliva or kissing. However, it can be acquired from the mother if she has had HIV. But recently, a case was reported in which a two year old baby, who was born with HIV, was treated of the disease, making it the first functional cure of HIV.
Muscle ache, flu, slight fever and fatigue are the common and yet vague symptoms of this disease. Usually these symptoms are also associated with diarrhoea and weight loss. The reason why it is most dreaded about is that it does not have any cure and as the name suggests, the virus gradually damages the human immune system. However, in the recent times, many string medicines have been invented that can successfully prolong the life span of the infected person.
Bacterial Vaginosis is yet another type of STD or STI which is caused when bad bacteria multiplies and replaces the good bacteria Lactobacilli bacteria which is usually present in the vaginal tract. This change alters the environment and at times, not all, produces symptoms like thin milky discharge having a fishy odour. It happens in women and more so when she has a multiple sexual partners or a new one or if she douches very frequently. Having Bacterial Vaginosis increases the risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease of the uterus and fallopian tubes, and infections following an operation. It can also lead to preterm labour and/or birth.
This STI is caused by a parasite Trichomonas vaginalis and usually affects the sexually active young women. Though the infection occurs in men very rarely, it can be passed on to men as well as women during sexual contact. Trichomoniasis just like the other STDs or STIs does not produce any symptoms and if it does it varies between genital redness and soreness and vaginal discharge and itching in women. As it does not show any symptoms, the chances of re-infection are higher. According to NICHD, Trichomoniasis increases the risk of infants born with low birth weights and also premature births. It was also found that stillbirths and death of newborns are twice in infants born to mothers infected with Trichomoniasis compared to infants born to mothers who are not infected with the disease.
Treating the STDs:
Usually the STDs are treated with strong antibiotics and are well managed in most of the cases. However, there are many of the diseases that still cannot be completely cured and the infected person has to lead a careful life to prolong the life span and learn to live with the disease. But, when the doctor gives the antibiotics, they should be continued to be taken even after the symptoms disappear and for as long as the doctor prescribes. Sometimes, even the partner is given some medicines and antibiotics that must also be taken by him or her.
Prevention of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
To make sure that the disease does not infect you and you do not have to lead to the treatment of the disease, you must prevent it. Another important thing is to prevent it from spreading. The STDs can well be prevented with these following measures and they are:
Abstinence and Monogamy-Best Way to Prevent STD:
Staying away from sex is the most useful method of staying away from sexually transmitted diseases. However, that is not a possible condition for a social person and for long term. Hence, keeping a monogamous relationship with one uninfected person is the best way.
Vaccination- To Prevent STD:
With the advancement of medical science, certain STD and STIs can be prevented with vaccines. Getting vaccinated before sexual exposure is a very good way to prevent the diseases. Vaccines are available for preventing human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A and hepatitis B. CDC recommends that girls and boys within the age of 11 and 12 are given this HPV vaccine. However, if they are not given this vaccination by that age, they can be given the vaccine within the age of 26. Whereas, the hepatitis vaccines are given to new born children and those who are one year old.
Safe Sex Prevents STD:
The term denotes having sexual relationship without getting in contact with the bodily fluids and semen of the partner. Hence, the only way that can prevent such possibilities while having sex is by using condom. No other birth control measure or contraceptive is useful in preventing STDs. This will also stop an STD from spreading.
Educate your Child:
Educating your child about the possible ways of acquiring STDs and the way they can be harmful will make sure that they will abstain themselves from having sexual relationship with many partners. Also, teaching them about the possible preventive measures is a must.
STDs are quite threatening to life and can cause severe harm if left untreated. Hence, preventing them is always useful than leading to a need of treating them.