STIs are sexually transmitted diseases that are passed on through sexual intercourse. They have been around for centuries and there are many different types. Untreated sexually transmitted diseases lead to infertility and serious health problems.
STIs are either bacterial or viral and require medication to treat them. Antibiotics cure bacterial infections such as; chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Antivirals control viruses such as HIV and herpes. Having an STI makes you more susceptible to catching others.
GUM clinics and doctors surgeries treat STIs. You must seek treatment immediately if you suspect you may have contracted one. Abstention from sex or using a barrier method of contraception are the only ways to avoid catching them. You are at greater risk of getting an infection if you have lots of different sexual partners.
STDs and venereal disease are also sexually transmitted infections. STIs sound more socially acceptable and is the modern name for them. STIs have similar symptoms as well as defining side effects. Untreated STIs cause infertility, debility and death.
Antibiotics cure bacterial STIs and remove the condition from your body. Gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are bacterial STIs. Here is some information about each infection.
The bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes the STI gonorrhoea. People with the infection rarely display symptoms. Visible symptoms include; a burning sensation when urinating, vaginal and penile discharge and painful sex. Untreated gonorrhoea leads to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. Babies born to an infected mother can become blind. Long-term effects of untreated gonorrhoea lead to arthritis and inflammation of the heart valve.
Condoms prevent the spread of gonorrhoea and antibiotics treat it. It is becoming more difficult to treat with antibiotics so prevention is the best way to avoid it.
A microscopic organism causes syphilis by burrowing into the moist mucous membranes of the genitals. This forms an ulcer and the condition has three main stages. The first is where the ulcer is forming and the condition is most contagious. Sometimes it clears up in women by itself without treatment. A quarter of people move into the second stage where symptoms include; a sore throat, hair loss, lesions on the genitals and a rash in the palms of your hands. It is very contagious at this point. The third stage is not contagious but causes damage to the heart and internal organs sometimes leading to death.
Treating syphilis with antibiotics will cure the condition. Condoms act as a barrier preventing the spread of infection.
Chlamydia is a very common bacterial STI. Most women with the condition are unaware that they have it. The bacteria damages the fallopian tubes, causes pelvic inflammatory disease and leads to infertility. Symptoms are similar to gonorrhoea. Babies born to women with the condition may cause eye problems and require eye drops. Arthritis develops if the condition is left untreated.
Viral STIs are controlled with antivirals herpes, HIV and HPV are viral infections.
The Herpes virus manifests itself as a rash in the genital area. It is still infectious when the skin is recovering. It is similar to the cold sore virus and flares up every so often. Antivirals stop the rash from getting worse but do not cure the condition. The virus spreads in bodily fluids and moist body parts. Flare-ups are unpredictable and cause the sufferer lots of distress. Condoms help to reduce the spread of the virus but are not completely reliable. Avoid sexual intercourse with someone suffering from a flare-up.
HIV is the virus that leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs). It attacks the immune system until it is unable to fight off infections. Antivirals effectively suppress the virus keeping people healthy for much longer. The sooner it is diagnosed the better the chances of delaying the onset of AIDS. Condoms prevent the spread of HIV.
Human papillomavirus or HPV either cause no symptoms, genital warts or cancer. Different strains cause the different conditions. Teenage girls are vaccinated against HPV in school to prevent cancer and genital warts. Condoms don’t always prevent the spread of genital warts because they occur in the pelvic region.
Get Checked Out
If you have an active sex life with many different partners a regular check-up will ensure that you are free from STIs. GUM clinics are completely anonymous and provide support and treatment. Avoid having sex with a new partner if you suspect they have a sexually transmitted infection. STIs affect your body for the rest of your life so it is important to avoid catching them.