Types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections

Various types of STDs

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Some infections pass exclusively through sexual contact and there are 20 identifiable diseases or infections that come under this category. Below are some of the most common and well-known STIs or STDs. It is important to know and understand about these Sexually transmitted diseases or infection to protect your sexual health. So, let’s find out what these problems are! (Also read: Which tests are required to diagnose HIV)

 

Chlamydia

Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, this infection spreads through vaginal, oral or sexual contact with an infected person. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain and abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis. Although, not a lot of individuals carrying the infection will exhibit the symptoms. In women, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), wherein the untreated STD/STI moves to the reproductive organs, causing permanent damage to the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID is the leading cause of ectopic pregnancy where the foetus develops outside the womb (and is life-threatening) as well as infertility. For pregnant women infected with the bacterium, the unborn baby is at a high risk for eye infections as well pneumonia. If detected in its initial stages, chlamydia is easily treatable with oral antibiotics.

 

Gonorrhea

Neisseria gonorrhoea is a bacterium that causes gonorrhoea and multiplies easily in the warm, damp environment of the reproductive tract. Vaginal or penile discharge, as well as pain or discomfort during urination, are common symptoms of gonorrhoea. When untreated in women, it can cause PID, ectopic pregnancy, infertility as well as the risk of infecting the unborn baby if the infection is acquired during pregnancy. The infection can also affect the mouth, throat, eyes and rectum and can also spread to joints and the blood which can cause life-threatening infections like septicemia. Contracting gonorrhoea makes an individual far more susceptible to HIV and subsequently AIDS.

 (Also read: What is Genital Herpes: Symptoms, treatments and diagnosis)

 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

There are more than 40 different types of HPV, which makes it one of the most common STDs. All the different types can infect men and women and different types cause symptoms include genital warts as well as lesions in the mouth, throat as well cancers. There is no cure for an HPV infection but chances of HPV-induced cervical cancer can be prevented (or detected early) by a Pap smear test. In the Pap smear test, the doctor takes samples of cervical cells for examination under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. Modern vaccines offer considerable protection against most but not HPV variants that can cause cervical cancer.

 

Syphilis

Caused by Treponema pallidum, syphilis spreads through contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The infection also causes lesions called chancres that can also pass the infection to another person who comes in contact with them. Chancres are painless sores that appear on the penis or in and around the vagina. They are usually the first sign of having contracted the infection. Although the sores may disappear within a few days, it does not mean that the infection has been cleared. If left untreated, it can begin to affect the skin, blood vessels, heart, liver, bones and joints.

Pregnant women who are carrying the infection can pass it to the foetus during the term or at the time of birth. It also increases the risk of miscarriage or a stillbirth. Congenital syphilis can lead to bone deformities, speech and motor difficulty, anaemia, liver disorder, seizure. It can lead to neurologic issues in infected neonates.

 

Bacterial vaginosis

A common infection found in women of reproductive age, this infection may spread through sexual contact. The vagina, like all parts of the body, has its own set of bacteria (known as microflora) but when harmful bacteria disrupt the balance and replace the common vaginal lactobacilli bacilli, it causes vaginosis. Women who have new or multiple sexual partners or those who douche their vagina are at greater risk. A thin, milk-like discharge with a fishy odour is one of the most common signs of this STI. But not all women may show these symptoms.
Contracting vaginosis increases the risk of PID and all the complications that come along with it. The risk of preterm labour and birth is also high for women with bacterial vaginosis.

 

Trichomoniasis

Common in young, sexually active women, trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is also known to infect men, but the incidence of such occurrences are rare. Genital contact causes transmission of the infection. Frequent urination or pain during urination, soreness in the genital area, redness, itching as well as vaginal discharge are common symptoms.


Viral hepatitis

A serious liver disorder, viral hepatitis is caused by a host of viruses that spread through sexual contact. Hepatitis A virus does not cause chronic infection but it can cause a short-term infection. This infection spreads through oral-rectal contact but there are other ways too that can cause it to spread and it can be prevented through vaccination. Hepatitis B virus is more severe in its manifestation can cause both short-term damages as well as prolonged damage like cirrhosis, cancer, liver failure and even death.

This virus spreads through sexual contact as well as through infected body fluids like blood by way of infected needles. Expectant mothers can pass on the virus to the neonate at the time of birth. This STI is also preventable by way of vaccination.

(Also read: What the most common question people have about AIDS and HIV)

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