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What is the Most Commonly Reported Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

Continuing with our objective of helping families carry out a higher-quality sex education, offering them professional and straightforward information and explicit suggestions, today, in a new article on our blog, we will address an issue of great interest: infections transmitted through sexual intercourse.

What are sexual infections?

They are infectious-contagious diseases produced by parasites, bacteria, or viruses transmitted through sexual relations, affecting men and women equally, for which both are responsible. They are called Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

The main routes of transmission are the mucosa: oral, anal, and genital.

Historically, these diseases have been very severely considered, weighing on them a significant stigma and taboo. They have been considered cursed, attributing to them the most severe evils of humanity: malformations, inexplicable disorders, sterility, leprosy, etc.

All this has resulted from wrong information, although there has also been malicious use, considering them a punishment for practising sex as an excuse to prohibit sexuality and generate permanent guilt.

At present, STIs are severe health and social problem. Certain diseases, for example, syphilis and Gonorrhea, which seemed under control, are on the rebound and can have severe consequences if not treated properly.

Young people should be considered a high-risk group.

We consider HIV a sexually transmitted infection, although it can be spread in other ways (primarily through the blood). Also, HPV can be spread from skin to skin.

There are no vaccines against these diseases – except Hepatitis C and HPV (human papillomavirus) – so they can be spread repeatedly.

Any sexually active person, who practices vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse, is a candidate for contracting an STI. Risk behaviours are the same for everyone.

It is good to know that:

  1. Every year the cases of STIs seem to increase due to the increase in youth sexual activity and the existing misinformation.
  2. The source of infection is always another infected person. Almost all STIs are transmitted through sexual contact.
  3. Some people suffer from the disease without knowing it.          
  4. Other people resist going to health services, more boys than girls, due to the social stigma attached to these diseases. They try, at times, to heal themselves.           
  5. Specific drug treatments allow healing, although they do not guarantee immunity.
  6. Throughout history, many people have experienced these diseases as a punishment for wrongdoing. In addition to being ineffective, it has contributed to increasing their suffering.
  7. Most of the personnel specialized in this area agree that:
    • An adequate prevention and sexual education policy are necessary.
  8. It is needed to offer complete information to know the STIs to:
    • Put a treatment quickly.
    • Do not infect other people.
    • Please give them the same consideration as any other infectious disease.
    • Medical therapies, applied on time, are very effective.

what are the most common stds

what is a sexually transmitted infection

Syphilis

Although it seemed eradicated, the number of cases appears to be rebounding. It is produced by a microscopic germ called treponema pallidum. The bacteria penetrate through moist surfaces of the skin or the genital mucous membranes. It can also be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy.

The first symptoms of the disease appear between 4-5 weeks after sexual intercourse with a person affected by it. Generally, a small lesion, sore or reddish ulcer (chancre) appears, in places close to where the bacteria penetrated, although not necessarily.

The diagnosis and treatment of the disease must always be made by health personnel. In some places, there are specific STI centres where you should go if you have an infection. In the case of syphilis, its existence can be known in the first moments utilizing a microscopic analysis of a sample of the first lesion or sore. Proper treatment can make the disease disappear entirely in a short period.

Syphilis is not inherited, although the sick mother can transmit the disease to the fetus, with profound effects.

Gonorrhea

Also called Gonococia. It is less severe than syphilis, although it is also essential. They are caused by a bacteria called Neisser’s Gonococcus. The bacterium penetrates through the cells located in the genitals and lodges in those more temperate and humid zones. The bacteria generally have an incubation period of between 2 and 8 days. The most frequent symptoms are:

The disease is diagnosed by analyzing the gonococci located microscopically in the urethral secretions and the urine.

Treatment is usually effective and quick. The sooner it is done, the more likely it is to avoid sequelae. A pregnant woman with Gonorrhea can pass it to her child at the time of delivery.

Soft chancre

It was produced by a microorganism called Hemophilus Ducrey. It has an incubation period of between 3 and 5 days. One of the main symptoms is the appearance of a small characteristic lesion at the site of infection, such as a gallbladder or pustule that ruptures and gives rise to a necrotic ulcer. It is usually multiple and painful.

The diagnosis is made based on a microscopic examination of the tissue. It is easily curable, and the earlier it is treated, the better.

Other infections

There are many other infections, less known and widespread. However, they are also transmitted through sexual contact, among which it is worth highlighting: Lymphogranuloma venereum, Chlamydia, Inguinal granuloma, Trichomonas, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Fungi (candida), Condyloma (venereal warts), Genital herpes, Crabs, and HPV (human papillomavirus) which is also very common.

Candida

Produced by a fungus located in the genital mucosa and can be transmitted, in addition to sexual intercourse, through the exchange of clothes or intimate objects.

It is usually detected by genital itching and secretions.

Treatments are effective as long as they are done as a couple, although sometimes they recur.

Chlamydia

This disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted through sexual intercourse and contact between the various body mucous membranes. The causative bacteria affect the male urethra and, in the female, the cervix.

Its symptoms have a certain similarity to Gonorrhea: more or less thick discharge from the penis and more desire to urinate accompanied by pain when doing so. In women, there are vaginal discharge and abdominal and pelvic pain.

Condylomas

It is a very contagious virus. It is generally detected by small lesions or warts in women’s external or internal genital areas and can be accompanied by urinary infections. Detection is more difficult in men because there are not always apparent symptoms.

The treatments are usually very effective, although the sooner you go to a consultation, the better.

Trichomonas

They are produced by a flagellated protozoan ( Trichomonas ). It is spread in sexual intercourse. The main symptoms are:

Symptoms are more accessible to detect in women than in men.

The diagnosis is made based on a culture of vaginal discharge and the urethra. Treatment is generally simple and effective.

Crabs

It was produced by a parasite (crab) exclusive to humans. It is transmitted by sexual contact or indirect contagion (life together, contaminated beds, clothes, etc.). The parasite is located in the hair of the genital region. Sometimes it can reach the armpits, eyebrows, etc. The female reproduces very quickly by laying a large number of eggs that remain attached to the hairs.

The main symptom is itching and, sometimes, light purple spots around the genital area. Scratching can cause skin lesions. The parasites can be seen perfectly, which facilitates the diagnosis of the disease. Medical treatment, which is generally very effective, must be immediate, as crabs transmit other infections.

HIV AIDS

The word AIDS, as it is known, means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and the word HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

AIDS is a severe infectious disease caused by HIV. Its most outstanding characteristic is that it affects the body’s defence system, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to numerous infections and other diseases. These infections are called opportunistic because they take advantage of this blockage of the body’s defence capacity.

The virus is transmitted through the following routes: semen, vaginal discharge, and blood. Therefore, the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse without using condoms and by sharing syringes, toiletries, or other instruments that may contain blood. Also, the infected mother can transmit the virus to the fetus.

Currently, no vaccine or treatment completely cures the disease. However, in recent years, there have been extraordinary advances in drugs that improve the quality of life of affected people and considerably delay the lethal consequences. Even cases of cure are known.

Effective prevention would be achieved if condoms were used adequately in all penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, and oral). That is, without a doubt, the key to prevention.

Although in pornographic films, which many young people regularly consume, the protagonists are not seen using condoms. A fact inadmissible – it does not mean in any way that the condom is not essential.

STI prevention

The need to adopt STI prevention measures through comprehensive and systematic strategies seems clear. Initially, sex education programs that include at least:

  1. Bodily and genital hygiene.
  2. Information is clear and objective.
  3. Correct education and creation of responsible behaviour guidelines.
  4. Creation of specific ITS services.

Some methods reduce the chances of contracting an STD, such as certain contraceptive products, different forms of spermicides (creams, ovules, jellies, etc.), and other specific non-contraceptive products containing antibiotics.

However, the right thing to face an STI is immediate consultation with the Health Center. It is essential to offer objective and demystifying information about these infections at all ages, including how they are spread, how they can be cured, and how they are prevented.

One factor contributing to the increase in STIs is the higher frequency of sexual contact with different people and without using prevention methods such as condoms. To calibrate, as soon as possible, the risk of contagion can be taken into account:

  1. If the meeting has been sporadic.
  2. If you don’t know the other person well.
  3. If your partner does not keep a minimum of hygiene.
  4. If your partner has told you that they have or have had an STI.
  5. If during sexual intercourse they are observed to have any lesions, strange discharge, or rash on the skin, which could be symptoms of STIs
  6. If it is believed that there is a possibility that your partner has contracted an infection without knowing it.

If an infection is suspected:

  1. The person should go immediately to a Health Center, STI Center, Family Planning Center-Sexual Health, or their trusted Gynecologist or Urologist.
  2. It is necessary to communicate it to the couple if the analysis is positive.
  3. It is not necessary to have any sexual relations until the total cure of the disease.
  4. It is useless and counterproductive to try to heal oneself.
  5. We must banish the consideration that they are shameful diseases and put them on the same level as other infectious diseases.

It is necessary to demystify and expose these diseases. Their persistence may partially determine the moral character (of punishment or guilt) that has been associated with them for many years. Decent people aren’t supposed to get them. But this is a severe mistake.

CONCLUSION

The condom is the only effective method to prevent the spread of STDs and HIV in young people. It is essential to maintain safe sexual relations.

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