Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. They are transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, or other body fluid during genital, oral, or anal sex. Some STIs can also be passed from mother to infant during birth or breastfeeding.
According to MedlinePlus, there are more than 20 STIs, including Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
These infections feature varied symptoms, including abnormal vaginal discharge, and genital sores, while others are asymptomatic.
To help you stay in the know, the doctors from Citra Urgent Care located in Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW), have prepared a comprehensive guide to some common STIs, their symptoms, treatment, preventive measures, and other important aspects of STIs.
Scope Of The Sexually Transmitted Diseases
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million people are infected with STIs daily. In addition, approximately 374 million people acquire curable STI infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and trichomoniasis every year.
WHO further estimates that nearly 490 million people live with genital herpes, and 300 million women have an HPV infection.
According to UNAID, 38.4 million persons were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2021.
The above STIs can have devastating effects if left untreated.
For instance, according to WHO, HPV infection accounts for more than 311,000 cervical cancer deaths yearly.
On the other hand, treatable STIs like gonorrhea, syphilis, and genital herpes increase the risk of HIV infection. And mother-to-child STI transmission can cause neonatal death, neonatal conjunctivitis, low-birth weight and prematurity, sepsis, and congenital deformities.
HIV/AIDS has claimed more than 40.1 million lives since the pandemic started.
To avoid the worst, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of these STIs and learn how to treat or prevent them.
The Common STIs And Their Symptoms
Below is a breakdown of the most common STIs and their symptoms.
Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria and is common in men and women. In most cases, the disease infects women’s cervix, throat, and rectum.
On the other hand, it affects the urethra, throat, and rectum in men.
The common symptoms of chlamydia in women include:
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Rectal pain if the disease has affected the rectum
- Bloody stool
In men, Chlamydia is characterized by:
- Pain or swelling on one or the two testicles
- Abnormal discharge from the penis
- Rectal pain and bloody stool if the disease has affected the rectum
- Burning sensation when urinating
Genital herpes can either be caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) or Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2), or both. The HSV-1 virus mostly affects the mouth, causing fever, blisters, and cold sores. It can also affect your genitals should infected saliva or mouth fluid find its way to your genitals.
On the contrary, the HSV-2 virus affects the genital area causing painless/painful blisters around your genitals.
In some cases, both oral and genital herpes can be asymptomatic, meaning they can go unnoticed for a long time.
Ask your healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice blisters around your mouth, genitals, and even the rectum
- Your partner is diagnosed with STI
Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium or simply N.gonorrhoeae infection. It affects the mucous membranes of the reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, urethra, and cervix in women. On the other hand, it targets the urethra in men.
Further, the disease targets other mucous membranes, including the eyes, mouth, throat, and rectum, in both men and women.
Most women with gonorrhea will experience symptoms like:
- Bleeding between periods
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain during peeing
Notwithstanding, men with gonorrhea may experience signs like:
- Pain in the testicles
- Yellowish discharge from the penis
- Burning sensation when peeing
Gonorrhea may also affect your rectum if you do receptive anal sex. The common symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women include:
- Anal itching
- Anal soreness
- Painful bowel movements
- Anal discharge
In most cases, gonorrhea can have no symptoms and cause severe damage to your reproductive system if untreated. That’s why you should go for regular examinations and checkups if you are active in any form of sex.
Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum bacterium infection. In most cases, its symptoms start showing within the first 21 days after exposure. The disease comes in primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages, with varied symptoms.
Syphilis is most infectious during the primary and secondary stages. During the latent stage, the disease remains active without showing any signs. And the tertiary stage is the most destructive as the body experiences the worst symptoms.
You should see your doctor if you:
- Develop a small round sore in your mouth, anal area, or genital a few days after sexual contact
- Develop skin rashes and sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and hair loss a few weeks/months after sexual contact
Note: Tertiary syphilis occurs decades after exposure due to lack of proper treatment. It is characterized by worst symptoms like:
- Hearing loss
- Mental problems
- Memory loss
- Neurological disorders, like stroke
- Heart disease, etc
The other common STIs include HIV/AIDS, Trichomoniasis, Human Papillomavirus, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Genital Warts, and Pubic Lice, among Others.
STI Diagnosis And Treatment
As you have seen, most STIs have similar symptoms, while others are asymptomatic. But, the good news is that there are effective strategies to prevent and treat STIs.
One of the best ways to avoid STDs is to practice safe sex through the use of condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners to few, if not one.
Besides, it is crucial to do regular testing as most STIs are asymptomatic and can go unnoticed for decades.
At Citra Urgent Care, Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW), we take simple urine and blood tests to diagnose the type of STI you might be infected with to issue the proper treatment. We offer rapid STI testing for the most commonly transmitted infections, with results available during your visit.
We also offer virtual consultations, and are able to treat patients of all ages for most acute injuries and illnesses, including Covid-testing and care.
If you test positive for STI, follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter. This may include taking drugs as prescribed, abstaining from sex for the predetermined period, and informing your sexual partner/s about your condition so they can go for testing and treatment.
Suffering From Sexually Transmitted Disease? Book an appointment With Us Today
We offer excellent health services, including STI testing and treatment, Covid testing and management, pediatric care, virtual consultations, and so on. We have seven urgent care facilities in the Dallas Fort Worth area, which are open throughout the week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Book an appointment with us today to enjoy our services.