Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that are passed on from person to other through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active runs the risk of getting a STI. Although using a condom significantly reduces the chances of getting a STI, a little knowledge about the most common STIs can help you get treatment at an early stage. So, let’s take a look at 5 common STIs you should know about.
Chlamydia is also known as chlamydial infection and is an STI that is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacterium is known to infect humans exclusively. Women with chlamydial infection do not usually show signs or symptoms of it. Even if there are any symptoms, they are usually non-specific, such as cystitis, a change in vaginal discharge, abdominal pain. An untreated chlamydia can cause symptoms which include pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse, and bleeding between menstrual periods. In men, this infection can cause tenderness or pain in the testicles.
2. Genital Herpes
Herpes is caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This virus can affect the skin, cervix, genitals and other parts of the body. Herpes is a chronic condition with a significant number of infected individuals never showing any sign of it. Symptoms of genital herpes include blisters and ulceration on the cervix, vaginal discharge, fever and pain on urinating. There may also be red blisters which are painful.
3. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human Papillomavirus is not a single virus but a group of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes lining the body such as cervix, anus and mouth. There are around 40 Human Papillomavirus that can affect the genital areas; these can also infect the mouth and throat. A HPV infection can cause abnormal growth and alteration of cells in the cervix, significantly raising the risk of developing cancer of the cervix and genital warts. The most common avenues for HPV transmission are vaginal or oral sex.
4. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infected semen, blood and other body fluids. Infection can also be caused by using unsterilized syringe. Hepatitis B causes the infected person’s liver to swell, which can cause serious liver damage and eventually lead to cancer. Further, this infection can become chronic in some cases.
5. HIV and AIDS
The most widely known STI, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). A person suffering from AIDS has his/her immune system altered. This makes them more prone to infections and diseases, forcing them to be more careful about the elements they expose themselves to. HIV can be transmitted through unsafe vaginal, oral or anal sex, blood transfusions, breastfeeding and sharing of infected needles. At present, there is no cure for HIV, but with continuing research, powerful drugs have been developed that help people with HIV live long lives.
One can avoid almost all the STIs by practicing safe sex, and almost all the STIs except HIV have a cure which can be easily treated. If you think you have symptoms that point towards a STI, there’s no point in hesitating; consult your doctor at the earliest.