Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections caused by microbes or microorganisms that can be transmitted from one person to another through oral, vaginal, or anal sexual intercourse. If not detected and treated early, these infections may lead to long-term health complications in both men and women and can negatively affect their overall health, their reproductive health in particular.
Most of these infections are preventable and treatable, but some have still have no known cure, such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
People often refuse to talk about or pay attention to STIs. They do not consult a doctor, and some of these infections have no obvious symptoms that may motivate them to visit a healthcare professional. However, statistics indicate that globally there are more than 100 million new STIs among young people under the age of 25 each year, girls and women being more biologically and socially vulnerable to such infections.
Among the most common STIs are: chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.
How Bacteria Spread Infections
Bodily fluids transmit such infections, most commonly through unprotected sexual relations with an infected person. Bacteria can also be passed through blood, such as from a mother to her baby.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted infections may not appear immediately after infection. In some cases the disease can infect the person without any symptoms, which increases the risk of passing the disease to others. Depending on the type of disease, some untreated sexually transmitted diseases can lead to infertility, chronic pain or even death. The presence of sexually transmitted disease in children before puberty may indicate sexual abuse.
Natural Secretions in Women
“Normal” vaginal discharge is usually white, clear or yellow. It shouldn’t smell excessively or cause burning, itching. After the menstrual cycle, discharge is usually watery in consistency. Around ovulation (in the middle of the menstrual cycle) the discharge should become thicker and sticky like an egg white, meant to serve as a stream for the sperm to swim through to hopefully meet up with an egg in the fallopian tube. It may increase in quantity occasionally, with the use of oral contraceptives or intrauterine devices (IUDs), or during pregnancy.
Natural Secretions in Men
Apart from urine and semen, men usually do not produce other types of discharge from the penis only when there is a pathological conditions (abnormal disharge). Uncircumcised men have a small amount of white matter under the foreskin of the penis called smegma, which acts as a lubricant and cleanser.
Diagnosis and Treatment of STIs
In the event that the person is suspected of having contracted an infection, consult a physician for a medical examination and appropriate testing.
Treatment of these infections is often possible. However, there are some infections with no known cure, such as HIV/AIDS and herpes, but can be managed.
Treatment with the available medications must be taken in the specified amount and at/over the appropriate time in order to cure diseases and to prevent spread of infections.
If carrying any STIs, it is necessary that the individual informs their sexual partner(s) and utilize appropriate methods of prevention. Treatment of STIs fails if only one of the sexual partners has been treated. This may occur if only one of the sexual partners is treated and the others are infected without their knowledge, possibly because they do not display any symptoms.
Ways to Prevent STIs
Practicing safe, protected sexual relations (using condoms for the entire sex act)
Refraining from sexual relations and avoiding risky sex practices
Refraining from sex if one of the parties complains of pain, has cuts, ulcers, or warts on the genitals or unusual secretions
Refrain from sharing towels and underwear and ensuring clean bedsheets
Ensuring the toilet is clean before use
When undergoing surgery and dental services, ensuring the safety of blood and sterile instrument
Do not share cutting or piercing instruments or personal tools such as needles, razors, and toothbrushes
Ensure sterilization of surgical instruments