Sexually transmitted diseases are infections contracted through oral sex, anal sex or heterosexual sex or all of the above. The infections are caused by different germs but are easily recognized through three symptoms—urethral discharge, vaginal discharge and genital (private parts) ulcers.
STDs are responsible for high level of morbidity and mortality globally; some of them like gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and chlamydial infections are curable while others like genital warts, herpes genitalis and AIDS can only be controlled, they are not curable.
STDs have health, social and economic consequences; the health consequences include cancer of the cervix, severe pain in the lower abdomen, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, eye infections in the newborn etc; the social consequences affect mainly women in the form of stigma and discrimination; the economic consequences include man-hour loss and cost of treatment which runs into several millions of Naira annually.
However, you do not have to be a victim, learn about them and save yourself and the country from the consequences above.
Gonorrhea is one of the commonest sexually transmitted diseases affecting both men and women in the 15 to 24 years age bracket. The infection is caused by the germ called Neisseria Gonorrheae.
It is the result, in most cases, of sexual indiscipline but responds easily to treatment.
Gonorrhea if untreated can cause persistent pain in the lower abdomen; this is due to the spread of the infection to the womb, tubes and areas around the womb.
Because so many infections can cause pain in this area, the diagnosis may not be easy unless there is a history of vaginal discharge. The pain could be severe and very discomforting.
Untreated gonorrhea in women can lead to blockage of the tubes through which eggs/fertilized eggs get to the womb. If both tubes are blocked the woman will not be able to have children except through assistance.
2. Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused by Human Papillomavirus indirectly, as a complication of Human Papillomavirus Infection; this may occur several years after the infection.
Immunisation is now available against the infection; you can consult your physician.
Syphilis is a very old disease caused by a bacterium—Treponemapallidum. Transmission is mainly during vaginal, anal or oral sexual contact. Syphilis has three stages:-primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary stage can be a little sore on the penis or lip or cervix; this may heal spontaneously after a few weeks. The illness then resurfaces under a year as the secondary stage with rash all over the body, sores in the mouth and other features. All these features can disappear spontaneously forever or the disease may reappear in about ten years as the tertiary stage with devastating effects on the heart, blood vessels, lungs, bones, brain, nerves, and skin.
Trichomoniasis is caused by an infective agent called Trichomonas Vaginalis. This germ infects the vagina, vulva and urethra in women while in men it infects the inside of the penis (urethra). In about 70 % of cases, there are no symptoms but when there are symptoms, men feel irritation and/or itching inside the penis and a burning sensation after passing urine. In women, there is also burning sensation/irritation/ itching in the vagina, and sometimes thin yellowish/greenish smelly vaginal discharge.
The disease affects more women than men, and even more common in older women. However the condition is curable.
5. Herpes genitalis.
Herpes genitalis is caused by herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, it is common in the 15 to 49 years age bracket.
It presents itself in the form of blisters affecting the penis, vagina, anus, rectum and mouth; the blisters break down to form painful sores which last for about a week or two. The sores are highly infectious as they contain the virus and you can infect yourself by touching the sores and then touching other parts of your body without washing your hands thoroughly first.
6. Vaginal Candidiasis.
This condition is caused by candida albicans, a fungus. A small quantity of this germ is always present in the mouth, digestive tract, vagina and skin but remain friendly until there is, a fall in immunity, an extended use of antibiotics, diabetes, pregnancy or some other predisposing conditions such as AIDS.
Symptoms include thick whitish smelly vaginal discharge, burning sensation in the vagina, irritation and itching.
It only occasionally spreads by sex.
7. Chlamydial Infections
Chlamydia, a very common sexually transmitted disease, is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. It is common in sexually active persons under 25 years old and affects men and women almost equally. It spreads by anal, oral and vaginal sex.
Symptoms in men include burning sensation when urinating, discharge from the penis, and pain in one or both testicles; symptoms in women include burning pain when passing urine and vaginal discharge.
The disease is curable but if untreated can lead to serious health complications, it can spread to the uterus and tubes leading to pelvic inflammatory disease, blocked tubes which can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
Chlamydia rarely affects fertility in men.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection (AIDS) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and spreads through vaginal and anal sexual encounters among others.
The prevalence level country-wide is less than 5% but this varies from state to state. HIV/AIDS affects mostly men and women in their prime economically (15-50 years). The disease has no cure but can be controlled, consequently not everyone who has the virus go on to develop the disease.
Inadequately managed infection leads to death.