STDs are Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These diseases, as the name suggests, are transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact. They are also called as venereal diseases. Today they are one of the most dangerous forms of infections, leading to several deaths especially in the developing and poorly developed countries.
The commonly known STDs are as follows:-
- Genital Herpes
This article discusses the causes, symptoms and treatment methods of these three venereal diseases.
Syphilis is a bacterial disease. The causative agent is Treponema pallidum. This bacterium can pass from one body to another through cuts, lesions and abscesses in the skin. If a person having cuts on the skin has sexual contact with an infected person, then there is a very high probability that the unaffected person will also be infected with syphilis.
The ways in which syphilis is spread are:-
- If a person has sexual contact with an infected person, then this is the surest way to contract syphilis.
- An infected mother can pass syphilis to her fetus.
Syphilis symptoms occur in four stages. They are described as follows:-
First Stage – The preliminary symptom is a sore that appears in the region of the infection. This could be in the groin, rectal or the oral area. The sore will be about half an inch across and will have the thickness of a button. During this stage, if medication is not begun, the sore will disappear by itself within a few weeks. However, the syphilis will not have gone. The bacterium will continue spreading within the blood and give rise to the more dangerous second stage of syphilis.
Second Stage – Several symptoms are seen in the second stage. In the order of their occurrence, they are:-
Headache, chills, pains and even fever;
Loss of appetite and continual sickness in the stomach;
Cuts appear in the skin followed by a red rash;
Rash spreads all over the body prominently on the hands, face and backs;
Hair begins to fall off in patches.
Third Stage – The third stage is a latent stage. In this stage, the person does not show any symptoms of syphilis and cannot infect others. However, the bacterium is still present within the body of the person which can be seen in blood tests. This stage can last up to fifty years.
Fourth Stage – In the last stage, ulcers occur on the skin, which are untreatable. There are painful lesions on the body. At this stage, the person’s nervous system is affected, leading to neuro-syphilis. The fourth stage occurs in one-third of all people who are not treated at the first stage of syphilis.
Syphilis can be treated fully if the treatment is begun at the first stage. The treatment is by using antibiotics such as penicillin or doxycyclin.
Gonorrhea is a STD caused by the bacterium Neressia gonrrheae. This bacterium is transmitted from one infected sexual partner to the other. The bacterium thrives in the mucus glands of the body. They are mostly centered on the genital area, anus and mouth.
Though the primary transmission of gonorrhea is sexual, it can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby.
The following symptoms are shown:-
- Need for frequent urination;
- Yellowish or greenish discharge from the genital area;
- Infection of cervix in women;
- Painful inflammation in the pelvis in women;
- Irritation on the vagina;
- Painful urination in men;
- Inflammation of the testes in men;
- Inflammation of the prostate in men, etc.
The symptoms of gonorrhea are shown more profusely in men than in women. In women, if there is a painful inflammation in the groin area, then it can lead to infertility in the later stages.
Treatment of gonorrhea must be done immediately as negligence can lead to infertility in women. The following antibiotics are prescribed:-
Genital herpes is a viral STD. Two strains of the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the causative factors. HSV-2 is more active and infectious than the HSV-1.
Sexual intercourse with an infected person is the surest way to spread genital herpes. However, genital herpes is more like a skin disease, and any kind of physical intimacy (not necessarily intercourse) can cause genital herpes. Genital herpes is also passed through oral sex. In the oral sex transmission, HSV-1 is the important causative factor.
Genital herpes shows very simplistic symptoms in the beginning, which keep on aggravating as time passes. The preliminary symptoms are the outbreak of small blisters or ulcers on or around the genitals in both men and women. The severity of these ulcers or blisters differs from person to person. In some people, they may be painless, tender and reddish; whereas in some they can become quite itchy and even painful. Normally the ulcers or blisters are dry and do not ooze out fluids.
When the second stage sets in, there are muscular aches and even fevers. There may be a vaginal discharge in women. The ulcers and blisters may become swollen.
Even after the genital herpes is treated once, it can recur. The symptoms of the recurrent herpes are much milder than the first outbreak.
There are several treatment methods both at the personal level and at the clinical level.
At the personal level, one must refrain from using tight and restrictive underwear till the infection passes. The infected area should not be brought in contact with direct sunlight as that could lead to intensive itching. Also, the use of strong soaps and shampoos must be avoided.
Medication is in the form of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.