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Sexually Transmitted Infections Or Diseases (STDs): Causes, and Treatment

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STIs are habitually spread by engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

However, women usually have more severe health problems from STIs than men, including infertility.

What is the meaning of sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

An STI is an infection transferred from one person to another person through sexual contact. An infection is when a bacteria, virus enters and grows in or on your body.

Some STIs can be cured and some STIs cannot be cured. For those STIs that cannot be cured, there are medicines to manage the symptoms.

How do STIs affect women?

Women often have more dangerous health problems from STIs than men:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea, left untreated, raise the risk of chronic pelvic pain and life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia and gonorrhea also can cause infertility.
  • Women have a greater risk than men of getting an STI during unprotected vaginal sex. Unprotected anal sex puts women at even more risk for getting an STI than unprotected vaginal sex.
  • Untreated syphilis in pregnant women occurs in infant death up to 40% of the time.

How you can get STIs?

STIs are spread in the following ways:

  • Engaging in unprotected (without a condom) oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has an STI. It can be hard to tell if someone has an STI. STIs can be spread even if there are no symptoms.
  • During genital touching. It is possible to get some STIs, such as syphilis and herpes, without having sex.
  • During sexual contact between women who have sex only with other women
  • From a pregnant or breastfeeding woman to her baby

Can sexually transmit infections cause health problems?

Yes. Each STI causes different health problems for women.

Some types of untreated STIs can cause or lead to:

  • Problems during pregnancy and health problems for the unborn baby
  • Infection in other parts of the body
  • Problems getting pregnant or permanent infertility
  • Organ damage
  • Death
  • Certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer

Having some types of STIs makes it easier for you to get HIV (another STI) if you come into contact with it.

How do I get tested for STIs?

Ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested for STIs. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what test(s) you may need and how they are done. Testing for STIs is also called STI screening.

STI testing can include:

  • Blood test. A nurse will draw some blood to test for an STI.
  • Pelvic and physical exam. Your doctor looks for signs of infection, such as warts, rashes, or discharge.
  • Fluid or tissue sample. Your doctor or nurse uses a cotton swab to take fluid or discharge from an infected place on your body. The fluid is looked at under a microscope or sent to a lab for testing.
  • Urine test.

The symptoms of STIs?

Many STIs have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

When women have symptoms, they may be mistaken for something else, such as a urinary tract infection or yeast infection. Get examined so that you can be treated for the correct infection.

How you can STIs treated

For some STIs, treatment may require taking medicine by mouth or getting a shot. For other STIs that can’t be cured, like herpes or HIV and AIDS, medicines can help reduce the symptoms.

If I have an STI, can my partner contact it too?

Possibly. If the tests tell that you have an STI, your doctor might want your partner to come in for testing. Or the doctor may give you medicine to take home for your partner.

The STI may have spread to you or your partner from a former sex partner. This is why it is important to get tested after each new sex partner. Also, if you test positive for certain STIs (HIV, syphilis, or gonorrhea).

How you can prevent an STI

The most reliable way to prevent an STI is to not have vaginal, anal sex, or oral.

If you do have sex, lower your risk of getting an STI with the following steps:

  • Use condoms. Condoms are the most reliable way to prevent STIs when you have sex. Because a man does not need to ejaculate to give or get some STIs, Other methods of birth control, like birth control pills, shots, implants, or diaphragms, will not protect you from STIs.
  • Get tested. Be sure you and your partner are tested for STIs. Talk to each other about the test results before you have sex.
  • Get vaccinated. There are vaccines to protect you against HPV and hepatitis B
  • Be monogamous. Having sex with just one partner can lower your risk for STIs. After being tested for STIs, be faithful to each other. That means that you have sex only with each other and no one else.
  • Do not abuse alcohol or drugs. Taking too much alcohol or using drugs increases risky behavior and may put you at risk of sexual assault and possible exposure to STIs.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Your chance of getting STIs goes up with the number of partners you have.
  • Do not douche. Douching eliminates some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protects you from infection.

The steps work best when used together. No single step can protect you from every single type of sexually transmitted infection.

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