Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) refer to infections that are transmitted through sexual intercourse.  There are various agents that causes STDs, mostly are bacterial, viral and certain parasites.  STD is actually a general term used for a number of specific sexually transmitted infections, to name a significant few, view more information about the following.

HPV. Human Papillomavirus infection is the most common type of STD.  It may affect the genital, mouth and throat areas.  The HPV infection may cause genital warts and may lead to malignancy or cancer.

Herpes. Herpes simplex is a viral infection which may affect the genitals and the oral area. This condition may be asymptomatic.  

Gonorrhea. Sometimes called the “clap” or “drip.”  Referred to as the “drip” because it can be manifested in males with purulent penile discharges this condition is a bacterial infection that may affect the genital tract, mouth or anus.

Syphilis. Caused by the spirochete bacteria, this infection can be divided into 4 stages.  Distinguishing manifestations of the syphilis infection are the appearance of chancre (painless and firm skin ulceration) and gummas (soft granuloma with a necrotic center).  This condition may lead to neurologic and cardiac complications.

HIV/AIDS.  An STD which primarily leads to the weakening or impairment of the immune system.  Select people may live a long time with proper treatment. Others may die due to opportunistic infections, rather than the HIV infection itself.

Chlamydia. One of the most common STDs, is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

The list of STDs may also include: Hepatitis B, trichomoniasis, candidiasis, Lymphogranuloma venereum infection, bacterial vaginosis and pubic lice infestation.

Symptoms of STDS

Most often, people infected with STD may be initially asymptomatic and may go into periods of “remission”.  The signs and symptoms vary, depending on the specific disease. General symptoms that should always be evaluated through a physician consultation may include, but may not be limited to:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain in the genital area (vagina in women, testicles and penis in men)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse, known as dyspareunia
  • Genital itchiness
  • Genital pain
  • Genital discharges
  • Difficult, painful or frequent urination
  • Genital odor
  • Appearance of genital, mouth and throat abnormalities

Most viral STDs like HPV, HIV and Hepatitis B would rather present with non-localized signs and symptoms, such as fever, general body malaise or fatigue. 

Certain STDs would also present with particular genital, as well as, mouth and throat ulcerations or benign masses.

Diagnosis

A good clinical history and physical examination by your physician will trim down the list of possibilities to arrive at the specific diagnosis.  The diagnostic requirement or laboratory work-up then depends upon the specific disease or diseases that the physician is trying to confirm.  The general diagnostics or laboratory work-up may include the following.

  • Complete Blood Count
  • Urinalysis with culture and sensitivity test
  • Throat Swab
  • Pap smear for female
  • Genital swab and fluid sample examination with culture and sensitivity test for both male and female
  • For ulcerations or masses, biopsy may be conducted.
  • Specific laboratory blood tests can be performed to detect certain types of STDs like Hepatitis B and HIV.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Alert

 This is a serious infection of the organs in the pelvic area, which includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and other parts of the reproductive organ.  This is more common in cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia infection.  Lower abdominal pain and other general signs and symptoms of STDs may be experienced in women having PID. Though the signs and symptoms may be mild or tolerable, possible complications of the inflammation of the pelvic area can be serious.  The inflammation may lead to scarring or adhesion and may result in chronic pelvic pain, infertility and may elevate the risk for ectopic pregnancies.

Treatment and Outcome

As most STDs may be asymptomatic, many cases go undiagnosed and untreated.  In some cases, individuals may be more likely to consult with a physician when the infection is in a more severe stage or form.

The treatment modalities really depend on the specific infection.  In general, specific antibiotics would offer treatment to manage or cure to bacterial STDs.  Anti-viral drugs are non-specific on the other hand, but might be helpful in the treatment of some viral STDs.

Most bacterial and parasitic STD infections are likely to respond to appropriate drug treatment.  However, when complications set in, just like in syphilis where neurologic symptoms are already manifested; the management of the condition is likely more extensive.

Viral STDs are more difficult to manage.  As there are no specific anti-viral drugs available, the possibility of chronicity in cases worsens the prognosis.  For example, chronic Hepatitis B, HIV and HPV are more likely to be persistent. Though treatment modalities are available, the possibility of a cure is quite slim.

Partner notification and prevention of disease spread is very crucial in the management of all sexually transmitted diseases.  Abstinence or the use of protection or condom is warranted during the treatment period and during all times for select STDS.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.