Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasingly affecting people across the world. Many sexually active people are known to experience some or the other sexually transmitted infection. One can contract a sexually transmitted infection through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. You can also contract a sexually transmitted infection by sharing your sex toys with an infected partner. It has been observed that many men and women have multiple sex partners or tend to change their sex partner on a frequent basis. Such behaviour can increase the risk of contracting or developing a sexually transmitted infection. The probability of developing or contracting a sexually transmitted infection is high, if you have become sexually active at a young age. The sexually transmitted infections can be either bacterial or viral in nature.
Most of the sexually transmitted infections contracted by people are bacterial in nature. The bacterial infections are such that they can be cured completely with the help of antibiotics such as Azithromycin or Doxycycline that are available in the market today.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia is one of the most common infections that affect sexually active people. Although this infection can be contracted by sexually active people of any age, it most commonly affects those who are under the age of 25. But almost 50% of the infected men and 75% of the infected women hardly ever experience any symptoms of this infection. Men generally experience symptoms such as slight discharge from the penis and mild irritation at the tip of the penis. Women can experience chlamydia symptoms such as change in vaginal discharge and mild lower abdominal pain.
As the symptoms are hardly recognized by the person who is infected, the infection can often be left untreated. This can cause severe health complications, such as blocking of the fallopian tubes, which then does not allow you to conceive naturally. It can also affect the sperm count and fertility in men. So it is important that the infection is diagnosed and treated at the earliest opportunity.
Gonorrhoea: Gonorrhoea is also a common bacterial infection, which is second only to chlamydia. This infection is caused by the bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and is known to particularly affect men who are between 20 to 24 years and women who are between 16 to 19 years old. Even those who are affected by gonorrhoea hardly ever experience the symptoms of the infection throughout their lifetime.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis is another bacterial infection, which is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in your vaginal walls. Although it does not belong to the category of a classic STI, it is included under sexually transmitted infections, as it is known to affect sexually active women. Viral infections are also very commonly seen in people. Unfortunately, these cannot be cured completely, but can be treated with the help of antivirals such as Acyclovir, Famvir and Valtrex, which are available in the market.
Genital Herpes: Genital herpes is one of the most commonly spread viral infections apart from genital warts. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is a strain of the herpes virus. Genital herpes is mostly known to affect men and women who are sexually active, but most commonly affects those who are between 20 to 24 years old. This viral infection, if left untreated can prove to be life threatening if it spreads to your blood and joints. The most commonly experienced symptoms of genital herpes are fluid filled red blisters around your genitals, thighs, and inside or around your anus discomfort, redness, itching or tingling around the infected area painful or burning sensation while urinating and an unusual discharge from the tube that passes urine from the bladder. Men and women can experience these symptoms either within the first four to five days of being infected, or even after a week, a month or a year.
Preventing sexually transmitted infections
The best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections
is through practicing abstinence. Abstinence is the most effective weapon we all have to ensure that we do not contract any sexually transmitted infections. Whether you are sexually active or not, here are the best ways to prevent yourself from getting an STI:
- Get your Hepatitis A and B vaccination
- Use a latex condom every time you have sex
- Use nonoxynol-9 spermicide as this has been known to combat some infections
- Wash your genitals and urinate after every sexual encounter
- Know your partners. Ask them about their history, and look for signs of infection (even though there may not be any)
- Limit the number of partners you have
- Do not share needles, cigarettes, food or drinks with people that you do not know
People who have sex in any form should be tested regularly for infection and also know the signs. Regular visit to your sexologist
is imperative and for women, regular pap smears could make the difference between life and death.