Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also commonly known by the name of venereal diseases. There are over 20 STDs that affect over 13 million men and women in the United States. Fortunately, most are treatable. STDs are diseases that are normally passed from one person to another through sexual contact, caused by bacteria and viruses that grow in hot and humid environments within the body.

How are STDs diagnosed?

Most STDs can be diagnosed with a medical examination, a culture of the secretions from the vagina or penis, or with a blood test.

Chlamydia

This is the most common bacterial STD with an estimated eight million new cases each year. It is transmitted through vaginal and anal sex. Sometimes it is not diagnosed, since it does not produce visible symptoms.

Symptoms in men typically include painful urination or secretions from the penis. Symptoms in women include bleeding between menstrual periods, painful urination, vaginale secretions or mild pain in the lower abdomen.

Gonorrhea

It is transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Like chlamydia, this STD often has no symptoms. However, symptoms involve secretions from the penis or vagina and painful urination.

Syphilis

It is a potentially lethal bacterial STD that is normally transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex. However, it can also spread through non-sexual contact if the sores caused by syphilis come in contact with a skin wound of another healthy individual. Usually, the first symptom is a painless ulcer that appears near the penis or vagina but that can also appear near the mouth, anus or hands.

To date, the use of penicillin has proved to be the most effective treatment. If syphilis is not treated, it can progress to more advanced stages and may result in clinical diseases such as stroke or meningitis.

Genital Herpes

Caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), it is spread by direct contact of skin against skin with the infected site during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

There is another strain of the virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is normally transmitted through non-sexual contact and usually causes sores on the lips. There is no known cure for HSV, but it is possible to treat the symptoms with antiviral drugs.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Aids is the result of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It attacks the body’s immune system and it is usually transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex. It can also be transmitted through blood.

When they are infected, some people show no symptoms at all, while others have symptoms similar to the flu. These symptoms usually disappear within one to four weeks and the virus can remain inactive for years.

Hepatitis B

Also known as HBV, it is caused by a virus that attacks the liver. It can be transmitted by vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be transmitted by blood if you share needles or other sharp instruments that cut the skin and they are contaminated.

About one third of people with hepatitis B do not have symptoms. However, symptoms, may include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The symptoms that indicate the presence of liver-related complications include dark urine, abdominal pain and a yellow coloration of the skin and of the whites of the eyes. A vaccine is currently available and it is the best possible protection.

Genital warts

These warts are caused in most cases by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The results are painless, fleshy warts that resemble a cauliflower and grow on the penis and around the entrance of the vagina or anus.

Genital infection with HPV (human papilloma virus)

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Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The human papilloma virus is part of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different types or strains. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted. Some of these viruses are considered as “high risk” and may reveal abnormal Pap tests (women’s gynaecological cytology). These viruses also can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus or penis.

Other types of viruses are called “low risk” and may result in mild abnormalities on Pap tests or cause genital warts.

Most people who are infected with HPV show no symptoms at all and the infection will disappear by itself. Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person or might not appear.

Genital warts are diagnosed by visual examination. Visible genital warts can be removed with medications applied by the patient himself or with a doctor treatment. They can also be removed using local anaesthesia and sent for analysis.

What are the symptoms of genital HPV infection?

infecciones_sex_03bMost women are diagnosed with HPV based on abnormal Pap Tests. Pap tests are the primary tool of detection of cervical cancer or precancerous changes in the cervix, many of which are related to HPV. There is also a specific test to detect HPV in the DNA PCR (HPV). The test can be performed in women with mild abnormal results in their gynaecologic cytology. It is also used for men but a negative result does not rule out infection. In addition to this test and the visualization of lesions in men, there is no other way to know whether or not there is infection.

What benefit can I get from a treatment and what are the existing options?

There is no “cure” for HPV infection, although in most people, the infection disappears by itself. Administered treatments seek to respond to changes in the skin or mucous membrane caused by HPV infection, such as warts and precancerous changes in the cervix. Some treatment options for genital warts are:

Topical medications:

  • Podophyllin
  • Imiquimod
  • 5-Fluorouracil

If you are pregnant or suspect pregnancy, you should not use podophyllin or 5-Fluorouracil.

Elimination of warts using other methods:

  • Cryosurgery
  • Electrocautery
  • Laser
  • Surgery

It should be emphasized that these methods do not eliminate the virus.

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