Key messages about sexually transmitted diseases:
- Knowing the ways of sexually transmitted diseases will help you avoid infection
- Recognizing the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases helps to detect them and see the doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
- Knowing the ways of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS avoids falling into the error of common beliefs
- Adopting methods of prevention of sexually transmitted diseases avoids the risk of infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases are contagious diseases that are transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through unprotected sexual relations primarily or through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal, or other body secretions. Sometimes, this infection can be transmitted in a non-sexual way, such as from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or sharing needles.
Sexually transmitted diseases don't always cause symptoms. Sexually transmitted diseases may pass from people who appear healthy and may not be aware of their infection.
There are many sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. So, it is important to take preventive measures to avoid infection by adopting healthy behaviors and taking correct attitudes. If these diseases are not treated early, they lead to long-term health complications for both females and males that negatively affect them, especially their reproductive health and infertility.
Sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, and they may not cause any symptoms. Therefore, they may go unnoticed until complications arise or one of the spouses is diagnosed with it.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate sexually transmitted diseases include:
- Sores or blisters on the genitals, mouth, or rectal area
- Feeling of pain or burning during urination
- Penile discharge
- Unusual or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, see a picture showing the colors and meaning of vaginal secretions.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Feeling pain during intercourse
- Swollen lymph nodes, but sometimes they spread more widely
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash on the trunk, hands, or feet
The disease signs and symptoms may appear several days after infection, but years may pass before any noticeable problems develop, depending on the germ causing the sexually transmitted infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections may result from:
- Bacteria: Examples of sexually transmitted infections caused by bacteria include gonorrhea and syphilis.
- Parasites: Trichomoniasis, is a type of sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.
- Viruses: Sexually transmitted diseases caused by viruses include human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and HIV.
Other infections like hepatitis A, B, and C, and Shigella and Giardia infections can be spread by sexual activity, but infection can occur without sexual contact.
Anyone sexually active is at risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections to some degree. Factors that increase this risk include:
- Unprotected intercourse. Having sex with an infected partner who isn't wearing a latex condom greatly increases the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. Incorrect or discontinued use of condoms can also increase this risk.
- Previous sexually transmitted infections. Having one type of sexually transmitted infection makes it easier to get another type of sexually transmitted infection.
- Forced sexual activity. Being raped or assaulted is difficult, but it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to get tested and receive treatment and emotional support.
- Alcoholism or substance abuse. Substance misuse can prevent proper judgment and make you more willing to engage in risky behaviors.
- Injecting drug use. Sharing injection needles spreads many types of serious infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
- Young age. Half of all new sexually transmitted infections occur in people aged 15 and 24 years old.
Transmission of infection from mothers to children
Certain types of sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth. sexually transmitted infections in infants can cause serious problems or even lead to death. All pregnant women should be screened and treated for these types of infections.
Because many people don't feel any symptoms in the early stages of sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections, screening for sexually transmitted infections is essential in preventing complications.
Possible complications include:
- Pelvic pain
- Complications during pregnancy
- Eye inflammation
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Heart disease
- Some types of cancer, such as cervical cancer and rectal cancer associated with Papillomaviridae (HPV).
How to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases?
- Abstaining from sexual relations outside marriage.
- Use condoms regularly and in the correct way when one of the spouses is infected and consult a doctor in this regard.
- Having sex if one of the spouses complains of pain or itching, or if one of the spouses complains of secretions or ulcers on the genitals.
- Refrain from sharing towels and underwear with other people, and make sure the bed linen is clean.
- Make sure the toilet is clean before using it.
- Not sharing cutting or piercing tools or personal items such as needles, razors, and toothbrushes.
- Get vaccinated: Getting vaccinated early, before sex begins, is also effective in preventing certain types of sexually transmitted infections. Safe and highly effective vaccines are available for two types of sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B and HPV*