You certainly must have heard of STIs – Sexually Transmitted Infections – they are the main reason why condom use is indicated. As the name implies, these are infections that can be acquired through unprotected sexual contact and can cause several uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
They can manifest themselves through warts, wounds and discharge. They usually appear mainly on the genital organ, but can occur on other parts of the body. With proper treatment and prevention, it is possible to break the transmission chain and improve the population’s quality of life.
With that in mind, we created this post to explain a little about what STIs are and how to prevent them. Check out.
What are STIs?
STIs are infections caused by bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms. They are usually transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, oral and anal) without using a female or male condom, with an already infected person. Contagion can also happen from the mother to the child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
Infections usually manifest themselves through wounds, warts, discharge or blisters. When left untreated, they can develop into more severe cases and cause cancer, infertility and even lead to death.
What are the main types?
There are several types of STIs, each with its symptoms and treatments. Below, we list the main and most common ones:
- AIDS / HIV: the self-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease resulting from the HIV virus. It is characterized by the weakening of the immune system, leaving it vulnerable to diseases ranging from a cold to more serious infections, such as cancer or tuberculosis;
- Viral hepatitis A and B: Viral hepatitis is inflammation in the liver and can have several causes, such as viruses and autoimmune diseases. They do not always show symptoms;
- soft cancer: also known as venereal or horse cancer, this STI is caused by a bacterium. Its main symptoms are small and painful pus-filled sores on the genitals;
- chlamydia and gonorrhea: infections caused by bacteria that affect the female and male genitals. Chlamydia, more common among young people, can cause serious health problems, whereas gonorrhea affects the penis, cervix, throat, rectum and eyes;
- condyloma acuminata (HPV): this STI receives several other names and there are more than 100 types, HPV being the most common. They do not always show symptoms and, in their most severe cases, can result in cancer, especially in the anus and cervix;
- pelvic inflammatory disease: can be caused by various bacteria and affects the woman’s internal sexual organs such as tubes, uterus and ovaries , causing inflammation;
- donovanosis: infection caused by bacteria that affects the mucous membranes and skin of the groin, genitalia and anus regions. It can cause ulcers and destroy infected skin;
- syphilis: it is caused by bacteria and can present itself in three stages, the first two stages being the most symptomatic. It causes sores and lumps in the sexual organs and, many times, it goes years without showing signs;
- venereal lymphogranuloma: this STI is caused by bacteria and affects the genitals and groin ganglia. Among the most common symptoms are sores, lumps and painful swelling in the groin ganglion.
Herpes, trichomoniasis and infection by the human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) are some more STIs that you should keep an eye on. In addition to being painful, many of them cause more serious complications when left untreated.
What are the forms of contagion?
As mentioned above, the main form of contagion of STIs is sexual contact (anal, oral and vaginal) without using a condom with an infected person. However, there is also contagion through contact with body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid and even blood.
Some can be transmitted through skin contact, and there are infections that can be passed from mother to child, if she is infected during pregnancy and in the first months after birth. The sharing of syringes and needles is also one of the existing means of contagion.
Therefore, prevention is the best treatment against STIs. The use of condoms, whether male or female, in any type of sexual intercourse, is the most effective method to prevent the contagion and transmission of infections.
What are the main symptoms?
Symptoms of STIs can manifest in different ways, depending on the type and stage of the disease. Below, we list the main symptoms and their characteristics.
- They may be manifestations of genital herpes, chancroid, donovanosis, syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum;
- appear anywhere on the body or on the genitals, and do not always cause pain.
- Appear in the vagina, penis or anus;
- depending on the STI, they may be whitish, yellowish or greenish;
- they can cause itching and a strong smell;
- cause pain during sexual intercourse or when urinating;
- in women, when in small quantities, discharge is only seen in gynecological exams ;
- may manifest in gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and chlamydia.
- In general, they are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and, when in an advanced stage, they appear in the form of cauliflower;
- they do not usually hurt, but itching or irritation may occur.
Some infections like HIV and Viral Hepatitis caused by viruses have specific signs and symptoms. In addition, some STIs may not manifest symptoms and signs and, when left untreated, cause complications such as infertility, cancer and even death.
How is diagnosis and treatment done?
For the STI to be proven, it is necessary that the patient see a doctor. At the appointment, he will report the symptoms, how long he has been feeling like this, and then a physical exam can be performed. When necessary, the specialist will request the collection of biological material for laboratory tests .
Each type of infection has a specific treatment, and it is the doctor who will assess and make this indication correctly. To get the right treatment you need:
- take only the medication indicated by the specialist;
- keep the treatment in the right amounts and times, even if the symptoms have disappeared;
- avoid sexual intercourse during this period and use a condom;
- taking the sexual partner to be treated;
- go back to the health service at the end of the treatment to do the review and check if you are really cured.
Currently, most STIs are curable, and it is possible to live with the treatment and maintain a good quality of life. However, it is extremely important that prevention and treatment be carried out, in addition to improving the quality of life, this interrupts the transmission chain. See a specialist whenever you experience one or more symptoms.