What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites, yeast, and viruses.
As a mother, I’ve worried about my son and daughter and STDs but having had a conversation with them I’ve found out that they have been safer than me when it comes to sex!
I’ve been tested!
I remember my son coming home from college and presenting me with a pair of men’s underpants with the wording ‘I’ve been tested’ on the front and he also had a pocket full of condoms! I was very impressed to find out that the college he went to had arranged for young adults to be tested and they got free condoms.
There are more than 20 types of STDs!
Here are some common STDs and sexually-associated diseases that you should know about:
- The most common curable STD is Chlamydia – a woman’s cervix becomes infected and the penile urethra in men. Common symptoms are pain during sex and discharge from the penis or vagina. Most people who get chlamydia don’t have symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. It’s important to get screened and treated if you think you might have been exposed to chlamydia. If you don’t, it can do a lot of damage to your body in the long run. Latex condoms are effective in helping to prevent the disease
- Gonorrhoea. In my day it was called ‘the clap’. Gonorrhoea is another common bacterial STD. It generally infects the same organs as chlamydia and has similar long-term effects. Common symptoms are burning when urinating and, in men, white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. The same as with chlamydia, many people with gonorrhoea don’t have symptoms. This disease can also infect the throat and be passed via oral sex. The worrying thing is this disease has become antibiotic-resistant
- Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and it can lead to serious complications if left untreated. It is transmitted by direct contact with syphilis sores, which can appear on the external genitals and the mouth, in the vagina or rectum. Some scientists think that oral sex is responsible for the rise of syphilis in men who have sex with men. Syphilis has become more difficult to detect and treat
- Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) had surpassed gonorrhoea in prevalence. Like gonorrhoea and chlamydia, it is starting to emerge as a major cause of cervicitis in women and nongonococcal urethritis in men. MG is associated with serious long-term consequences, including infertility from pelvic inflammatory disease
- Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD, with infection more common in women than in men. Women may mistake this infection for a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis since the symptoms are similar: discharge, vaginal odour, pain during intercourse, irritation, and itching. Men can get trichomoniasis, but they don’t tend to have symptoms
- Human papilloma is possibly the most common STD. HPV is sometimes known as ‘the cervical cancer virus,’ only a few types of HPV are linked to cancer. Although HPV is considered incurable, its symptoms can be treated, and many people resolve infections on their own
- HIV/AIDS HIV is the virus associated with AIDS and it can only be transmitted by an exchange of bodily fluids, including semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, and blood. It cannot be transmitted by casual contact. Most people with HIV are treated with a combination of drugs known as highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART), or combined anti-retroviral therapy (cART). These therapies cannot cure the disease, they can reduce the likelihood that infection will progress to AIDS.
- Crabs/Pubic Lice Crabs are a type of lice that live on the hair in the genital area and occasionally on other coarse-haired areas of the body, such as the armpits or the eyebrows. Usually, they are spread by sexual contact, although they also can occasionally be transmitted by infested linens and clothing. Symptoms include itching in the genital area and visible lice or eggs
- Scabies This is a contagious skin disease that is not always sexually transmitted. Scabies is caused by the parasite Sarcoptes scabei, it causes an extremely itchy rash that gets worse in the evening and at night. The rash is most often found in folds of skin, such as between the fingers, on the wrists and ankles, and in the genital area. Scabies is incredibly contagious, and the mite can live for days off the human body
- Herpes/HSV Herpes is another viral STD and it comes in two forms, HSV1 and HSV2. HSV1 is most often associated with cold sores, and HSV2 is most often associated with genital sores. People with the herpes virus can transmit the virus even when they do not have any sores or other symptoms. Although using a condom can reduce the risk of herpes transmission, condoms are not 100 percent effective since herpes is spread via skin-to-skin contact
- Hepatitis/HBV There are several types of hepatitis. The type of hepatitis most often associated with sexual transmission is hepatitis B (HBV). However, hepatitis C can also be sexually transmitted. Over time, chronic infection with hepatitis B can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect you against infection
- Chancroid is a genital ulcer disease caused by the bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi. The ulcers caused by chancroid are generally larger and more painful than those associated with syphilis, although the early signs may be mistaken for those of a syphilis infection
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition where the healthy bacteria in a woman’s vagina disappear and are replaced by different organisms. Symptoms include burning and itching around the vagina, white or grey discharge, and a strong fishy odour that is particularly noticeable after intercourse
- Nongonoccocal urethritis (NGU) is not caused by a specific bacterium or virus. The two most common causes of NGU are chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium. Symptoms of NGU include burning when urinating and discharge from the head of the penis
- Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that most often affects young children and adults who have weakened immune systems. It spreads by direct skin contact, so it also can be transmitted during sexual contact among adults
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is not primarily thought of as an STD, although new research suggests that it probably can be transmitted sexually. It can also be transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact
- Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is an STD, primarily thought of as affecting individuals in developing worlds. It is now on the rise worldwide. LGV is caused by a type of Chlamydia trachomatis, LGV is closely associated with HIV infection and, as with many other STDs, can actually increase the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition
If you suspect that you may have an STD seek medical help immediately.
Here are pictures of STDs and relevant information that you might find life saving!