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8 Sexually Transmitted Diseases You Need to Know About

Young people on Beach Laughing

By Dr. Kristie

If you’re sexually active, it pays to be well informed regarding sexually transmitted diseases and how they’re transmitted. Have you contemplated all the options when it comes to contracting sexually transmitted diseases? There are a variety of sexually transmitted diseases you may not have considered. Here are eight sexually transmitted diseases you need to know about:

Gonorrhea

This relatively common sexually transmitted disease is spread through both sexual intercourse and oral sex with an infected partner. Symptoms develop within days to weeks of being exposed to the bacteria that causes this infection. Symptoms include vaginal or penile discharge and painful urination. This sexually transmitted disease is treated with an oral antibiotic which is usually curative.

Chlamydia

This infection is caused by a bacteria that’s spread through genital or anal intercourse with a person harboring the Chlamydia bacteria. Symptoms include vaginal or penile discharge, painful urination, and vague abdominal pain. Some women harboring this infection have no symptoms. It’s thought that even undiagnosed, asymptomatic Chlamydia infections may play a role in infertility in a female which makes treatment even more important in a female of reproductive age. This sexually transmitted disease is treated with an antibiotic which generally cures the infection.

Genital Herpes

This infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is spread through sexual intercourse or oral sex. Symptoms usually appear within several days to three weeks after exposure to an infected person. Symptoms include genital itching and burning associated with the formation of characteristic blisters. It’s important to note this infection may be transmitted to another person even if the infected person has no symptoms. There is no cure for this sexually transmitted disease, although a drug called Acyclovir may reduce the frequency of symptomatic outbreaks.

HIV (the Aids Virus)

This is probably one of the most publicized forms of sexually transmitted disease. It’s caused by a virus that suppresses the immune system causing the infected person to develop a variety of difficult to treat secondary infections. The HIV virus is spread through sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, as well as through blood transfusions and I.V. drug use. Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, fever, and loss of appetite. There is no cure, although there are specific drugs that can control the virus and allow the infected person to lead a relatively normal life.

Syphilis

This sexually transmitted infection is caused by a bacteria which is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Symptoms generally appear from one week to three months after exposure to an infected person and include a painless sore at the point of contact. The infected person may go on to develop a rash, itching, and body aches. If untreated at this stage, the infected person can go on to develop serious symptoms within a decade or two including blindness, mental instability, and heart disease. If treated during the early stages, Syphilis can be cured with an appropriate antibiotic. Once it enters its later stages, a cure may not be possible.

Scabies

Scabies is caused by a tiny mite and is transmitted by sexual contact or exposure to an infected individual’s towels or clothing. Symptoms include a characteristic rash and intense itching. Treatment is with a prescription medication called Kwell which usually results in a complete cure.

Crabs

Crabs are caused by lice and are generally spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Symptoms include intense itching and the appearance of small crab nits or eggs attached to pubic hairs. There is an over-the-counter treatment available, but more resistant infections may require a prescription medication known as Elamite.

Genital Warts

This sexually transmitted disease is caused by the HPV or Human Papilloma Virus. They cause characteristic warts which may be present on the genitalia of both males and females. If transmitted by anal intercourse, the warts may be found in the anal region or in the mouth if transmitted by oral sex. Warts generally appear within three months of contact with an infected person. If a woman is infected with this virus, she should be tested for cervical HPV infection which, in some cases, may increase her risk of cervical cancer and pregnancy related problems.

As you can see, there are a variety of sexually transmitted diseases to consider before taking the serious step of having sexual intercourse. Although not completely effective in preventing every type of sexually transmitted disease, the use of condoms can potentially reduce your risk of some types of sexual infection. When you choose to have sexual intercourse with another person, you’re making a decision that may affect you for the rest of your life. Make that decision wisely. 

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