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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)1

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or venereal diseases are spread through sexual contact. The microorganisms that cause STDs generally spread through semen, vaginal fluids, and other body fluids.

Some STDs may spread through modes other than sexual intercourse. For example, during breastfeeding from mother to infant and by sharing of drug needles or blood transfusion (infected blood).

According to WHO, 1 million new STDs are acquired each day across the globe.

Causes of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by infectious organisms such as:

  • Viruses (HIV, human papillomavirus, genital herpes)
  • Bacteria (syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia)
  • Parasites (trichomoniasis)

Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The symptoms of STDs include:

  • Development of sores or bumps around the genital, rectal, oral area
  • Burning pain during urination
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Skin rash over hands, feet, and trunk
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Risk Factors Associated with Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Factors that increase your risk for STDs include:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • History of an STD infection
  • Excessive alcohol or recreational drug use
  • Sharing syringes or needles

Complications of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Untreated sexually transmitted diseases can cause:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • HPV-associated cancer
  • Eye inflammation
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Infertility
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis

Diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

To arrive at an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will discuss your symptoms, sexual history, perform a physical examination, and order laboratory investigations of blood, urine, and fluid samples.

Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The treatment will depend on the type of STD infection. The various options include:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial STD infections.
  • Antiviral drugs
  • Antifungal drugs
  • Antiprotozoal drugs

It is important to abstain from sexual contact until the completion of treatment.

Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

To prevent or reduce the risk of STDs use the following precautions:

  • Get vaccinated (Vaccines are available against HPV, hepatitis A & B)
  • Practice safe sex
  • Regularly undergo medical check-ups