STIs – Its Causes, Symptoms And Prevention
“STI’s are caused by a wide variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites”
Sexually transmitted infection (STI) is the preferred term for what used to be known as sexually transmitted disease (STD) or venereal disease (VD). The change in terminology reflects an understanding that not all infections lead to immediate symptoms of disease despite the potential for infecting others.
Men contracting STIs can suffer from a wide variety of symptoms. A common symptom is discharge from the urethra (the urine passage that opens at the tip of the penis). There could be pain, ulcers, itching, redness, discharge or swelling in the genitalia, scrotum, groin, anal orifice or throat.
It is critically important to recognize that symptoms can be delayed for varying periods of time ranging from days to even years, depending on the microorganism involved. For instance, symptoms related to an HIV infection may take years to surface. Hence, individuals who appear perfectly normal can be infective to others.
Sexually transmitted infections are caused by a wide variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites but eight of these are common. Of these, four are treatable- gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis while the others, all viral, are not curable. These four are herpes, hepatitis B, human papilloma virus and HIV.
Prevention is critical, given that some common STIs are not really curable. Counselling and health education is the key. This includes recognition that it can be contracted during any form of unprotected sexual activity or intimacy even if this is not with a female sexual worker. The common misconception is that STIs cannot occur following sex with co-workers, colleagues and friends. Talking to experts at Apollo Clinics about sexually transmitted diseases and knowing how to stay safe can help control it to a large extent.
Most individuals suffering from STI are not even aware of it themselves, but remain infective to others. Education can also reduce the odds of drug users contracting or spreading STIs including HIV by unsafe practices such as the sharing of needles. Condoms not only prevent most STIs, they also avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Recently a vaccine against HPV (human papilloma virus) has become available. This vaccine prevents infection with important strains of HPV. It is strongly associated with cancer especially in women but also in men. Use of vaccination can markedly reduce the chance of cervical cancer, the most common cancer in women.
What To Do If Infection Is Suspected
The best course of action is to visit your doctor. It is possible to make a diagnosis based on a clinical examination and tests including testing of body fluids, abnormal discharge or blood.