Sexual health is a crucial aspect of a person’s well-being. However, it is often overlooked or neglected. Unfortunately, the risk of infections is always present in sexually active people.
Both men and women are affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some may be asymptomatic, making it important to get tested regularly.
In this article, we will explore some of the most common STDs that affect both men and women. We will also touch on their symptoms and treatments.
1. HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
HPV is one of the most widespread STDs, with nearly every sexually active individual getting this infection at some point in their lives. Over 40 types of HPV are sexually transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Most HPV types are harmless and heal spontaneously, but some can lead to genital warts and a number of cancers (e.g., cervical, penile, oral, throat).
The good news is that HPV vaccines, such as Cevarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil-9, are available to protect against these cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that young women and men aged 11 to 26 get vaccinated, whereas women and men up to the age of 45 can discuss whether the vaccine is right for them with their doctor. A Pap smear test can detect most cervical cancers caused by HPV. There have been recent breakthroughs in natural supplements such as AHCC. This powerful mushroom extract has been proven to help support the immune system in fighting HPV in Phase II Clinical testing.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. It is primarily spread through vaginal and anal sex. Moreover, it can also be transmitted through oral sex.
While some individuals may experience unusual discharge, pain, and a burning sensation during urination, only about 25% of women and 50% of men show symptoms.
The cause of this infection is a bacterium, which means it can respond to antibiotics. After treatment, it is important to get retested in one to three months to ensure the infection is completely healed.
Gonorrhea is another common bacterial STD that gets contracted with Chlamydia. Symptoms include:
- Unusual discharge
- A burning sensation during urination
Note that only 20% of women show symptoms. We can easily treat gonorrhea with antibiotics.
Syphilis is a complex disease that progresses through four stages:
In the primary stage, the main symptom is a sore in the genital area. Many times, these growths get mistaken for ingrown hair, cuts, and bumps.
During the secondary stage, a rash on the body may appear, followed by sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus.
Typically, symptoms disappear during the latent stage. However, the disease can last for years. Out of all the cases of syphilis, only 15% will progress to the final stage of the disease. This causes neurological damage and cerebral disorders. The treatment of syphilis focuses on antibiotics.
Note that the earlier treatment, the more effective it is.
Herpes is a viral infection that causes painful blisters in the genital area. There are two types of herpes, with each strain impacting an anatomical area more than the other – HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types can cause genital herpes, but HSV-2 is more common.
People with herpes may experience outbreaks of blisters, yet not everyone with the virus will experience these outbreaks. Additionally, people with herpes can spread the virus even when they don’t have any symptoms.
Herpes is easy to contract and can spread through skin-to-skin contact. There is no cure for herpes, but people can take medication to manage their symptoms.
If you suspect that you have herpes, it’s important to see a doctor and get tested.
Trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection that is more common in women than men. It can spread through penetrative sex or through contact with genital areas. About 30% of people with trichomoniasis experience symptoms, such as itching, burning, and sore genitals. Some people may also have a smelly, clear, white, or yellowish discharge.
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics. Once the course of treatment is complete, it is essential to retest within three months of treatment to make sure that the infection is gone. If you suspect that you may have trichomoniasis, make sure to see a doctor and get tested.
HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS, a life-threatening illness. HIV spread through body fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. It can also get transmitted through unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse with an infected person. Sharing needles with someone infected is another way to get infected.
Sadly, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but advances in medicine made it possible for people with HIV to live long, healthy lives. If you think that you may have been exposed to HIV, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment is crucial, so the sooner you get tested, the better.
STDs are common infections caused by bacteria and viruses. Some of the most common STDs include HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, trichomoniasis, and HIV/AIDS. Recognizing the symptoms of these infections is important, but the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested.
To reduce the risk of STDs, make sure to use protection during sex, get tested regularly, and get vaccinated against HPV. We can treat most bacterial STDs with antibiotics. With that said, early treatment is vital to prevent serious health problems.