STD or sexually transmitted disease does not only refer to the wider known Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), but includes a host of other infections as well that range from being mild to severe. Another problem with an STD is that most often it remains asymptomatic, i.e. without any signs and symptoms, making it difficult for people to even realise they have an infection.
Let’s take a look at some common STDs that get transmitted between humans during sexual activities:
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
This is the most common STD that most sexually active men and women acquire at some time in their lifetime. HPV is transmitted from an already infected person through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Symptoms of an HPV infection include genital warts in the genital area, which could be raised or flattened, and small or big.
It is a bacterial infection of the genital tract that may not develop any symptoms in the infected person. However, symptoms could occur after one or three weeks in form of lower abdomen pain, painful urination, discharge (men and women), painful sex for women and pain in testes for men.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that affects the genital tracts. Symptoms may appear post two to ten days after infection, or not show up for months. Symptoms occur in form of painful urination with a burning sensation, cloudy discharge from vagina or penis, painful testicles that may show swelling, abnormal periods in women, itching in the anal area and painful bowel movements.
This common and curable STD is caused by a parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, which infects the vagina in women and urinary tract in men. The infection is experienced in form of itching or irritation, discharge with odour from vagina or penis that is clear, white, yellow or greenish, and painful urination and sexual intercourse. Many people do not get symptoms, and the chances of transmitting it increases without treatment.
Genital herpes is usually caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV 2), though HSV 1 may also cause it. The major symptom of genital herpes is painful blisters in or around the anus, vagina or penis. It spreads from an infected person during skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity.
This disease takes a long time to develop and progresses through four stages. The first stage may only result in sores on the body that could be mistaken for a harmless bump or cut. The second stage cause sores in the mouth, anus or vagina along with rashes on the body. After this, the third stage is the latent stage, wherein the infection may remain hidden for years. The final stage develops only in a handful of cases in form of nerve and organ damage. Antibiotics in the initial stages can help treat the infection.
It is best to consult a doctor at the first signs of infection that could be an STD. Untreated STD are not only a health concern for the infected person but these also increase the spread to others. In women, an untreated STD can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that has long-term health implications including difficulty in conceiving.
“Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs),” CDC.gov, https://www.cdc.gov/std/
“STD symptoms: Common STDs and their symptoms,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/in-depth/std-symptoms/art-20047081
“Understanding Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)” WebMD.com, https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/understanding-stds-basics