Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are usually acquired through sexual intercourse, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids, organisms (bacteria, viruses or parasites) that cause sexually transmitted diseases can pass from person to person. There is an incurable STD in more than 65 million Americans. There are 20 million new cases reported each year; half of these infections occur among people between the ages of 15 and 24 and can have long-term implications.
STDs symptoms in men
It’s possible to contract an STD without developing symptoms. But some STDs cause obvious symptoms. In men, common symptoms include:
- During sex or urination, pain or discomfort
- On or around the penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, legs, or mouth, sores, bumps, or rashes
- Unusual discharge or bleeding from the penis
- Painful testicles or swollen ones
Depending on the STD, specific symptoms may differ.
STDs symptoms in women
STDs don’t cause significant symptoms in certain situations. Popular STD symptoms in females include when they do:
- During sex or urination, pain or discomfort
- On or around the vagina, anus, buttocks, legs, or mouth, sores, bumps, or rashes
- An irregular discharge from the vagina or bleeding
- Itchiness in the vagina or around it
The particular symptoms will vary from one STD to the next.
What Causes STDs?
RFGN believes that just about every form of infection is involved in STDs. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis is bacterial STDs. HIV, genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), and hepatitis B is all viral STDs. A parasite causes trichomonas’s. The germs that cause STDs hide in semen, blood, vaginal secretions, and sometimes saliva. Most species are transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex, but some may be spread by skin contact, such as those that cause genital herpes and genital warts. You may get hepatitis B with anyone who has it by exchanging personal products, such as toothbrushes or razors.
Diagnosis of STDs
At Rainbow Fellowship we think that in most cases, based on symptoms alone, doctors cannot diagnose STDs. If you are suspected of getting an STD by your doctor or other healthcare provider, they would typically prescribe tests to find it out. Your healthcare provider might prescribe STD testing, based on your sexual history, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is because in many cases, STDs do not cause significant symptoms. But even STDs that are free of symptoms can cause harm or be passed on to other people.
Using a urine or blood test, healthcare providers can diagnose most STDs. They can take a swab of your genitals as well. They can take swabs from those too, if you have developed any sores. At the doctor’s office or a sexual health facility, you will get checked for STDs. For certain STDs, home testing kits are also available, but they may not always be accurate. With care, use them. Check to see if the testing kit was approved by the Food and Drug Administration before it was purchased. If you’ve had some form of sex, asking your healthcare provider about STD testing is a good idea. Some individuals might profit from testing more regularly than others.
Treatment of STDs
Effective treatment is currently available for several STDs.
- Three bacterial STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) and one parasitic STD (trichomoniasis) are generally curable with existing, effective single-dose regimens of antibiotics.
- For herpes and HIV, the most effective medications available are antivirals that can modulate the course of the disease, though they cannot cure the disease.
- For hepatitis B, antiviral medications can help to fight the virus and slow damage to the liver.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of STDs—in particular gonorrhea—to antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options. Current Gonococcal AMR Surveillance Programme (GASP) have shown high rates of quinolone resistance, increasing azithromycin resistance and emerging resistance of extended-spectrum cephalosporin’s, last-line treatment. The emergence of decreased susceptibility of gonorrhea to extended-spectrum cephalosporin’s together with AMR already shown to penicillin’s, sulphonamides, tetracyclines, quinolones and macrolides make gonorrhea a multidrug-resistant organism. AMR for other STIs, though less common, also exists, making prevention and prompt treatment critical.
STD case management
Low- and middle-income countries rely on identifying consistent, easily recognizable signs and symptoms to guide treatment, without the use of laboratory tests. This is called syndromic management. This approach, which often relies on clinical algorithms, allows health workers to diagnose a specific infection on the basis of observed syndromes (e.g., vaginal discharge, urethral discharge, genital ulcers, and abdominal pain).
Syndromic management is simple, assures rapid, same-day treatment, and avoids expensive or unavailable diagnostic tests for patients that present with symptoms. This approach results to overtreatment and missed treatment as majority of STIs are asymptomatic. Thus, in addition to syndromic management, screening strategies are essential.
To interrupt transmission of infection and prevent re-infection, treating sexual partners is an important component of STI case management.
Vaccines and other biomedical interventions
For 2 STIs: hepatitis B and HPV, safe and highly effective vaccines are available. These vaccines have represented important advances in the prevention of STI. In 95 percent of countries, the hepatitis B vaccine is used in child immunization programmes and prevents millions of deaths annually from chronic liver disease and cancer. As of October 2018, in 85 countries, most of them with high and medium incomes, the HPV vaccine is available as part of routine immunization programmes. In low- and middle-income countries, where most cases of cervical cancer occur, HPV vaccination could prevent the deaths of millions of women over the next decade if high vaccination coverage of young women (ages 11-15) can be achieved (> 80 percent).
Research to develop vaccines against herpes and HIV is advanced, with several vaccine candidates in early clinical development. Research into vaccines for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis is in earlier stages of development. Other biomedical interventions to prevent some STIs include adult male circumcision and microbicides.
- Male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60% and provides some protection against other STIs, such as herpes and HPV.
- Tenofovir gel, when used as a vaginal microbicide, has had mixed results in terms of the ability to prevent HIV acquisition, but has shown some effectiveness against HSV-2.
At Rainbow Fellowship we advise that the only foolproof way to prevent STDs is to avoid sexual contact. But there are ways of making it safer whether you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms offer efficient security against many STDs when used properly. It’s necessary to use condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex for optimal protection. Defense during oral sex may also be provided by dental dams. Condoms are usually effective at stopping STDs, such as semen or blood, from spreading through fluids. But they can’t defend themselves completely from STDs that spread from skin to skin. You can always contract an STD or transfer it to your partner if your condom doesn’t cover the infected region of the skin.