Sexually Transmitted Infections or STIs are a health problem in the world that affects millions of people every year and are infections that a patient suffers as a result of any type of sexual activities involving the vagina, mouth, anus in women or the anus, mouth and penis in men. . According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30 different species of bacteria, viruses and parasites can be transmitted through sexual contact, infecting more than a million people every day.

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Types, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and STI Prevention Tips from Health Experts (Shutterstock)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-Founder of Indira IVF, highlighted a number of STIs that affect humans and later also hamper their sexual and reproductive health causing infertility :

  1. Chlamydia

According to WHO estimates, chlamydia is the most common STI with 129 million people infected in 2020. It is a bacterial STI caused by Chlamydia trachomatis and some of the symptoms associated with it include pain or burning sensation when urinating, abnormal discharge from the penis, rectal pain, as well as pain, swelling or tenderness in the testicles. One can also have a sore throat if the infection was contracted during anal or oral sex.

In women, chlamydia can cause inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes that prevent the egg from being fertilized by a sperm. It can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that 10-15% of infected women will develop PID.

2. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by a species of bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae and caused the second highest number of STIs in 2020 with 82 million, according to WHO data. When left untreated in women it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes resulting in PID, while in men it can cause epididymitis which is inflammation of the epididymis. In these cases, there is an obstacle to the fertilization of the egg with the sperm.

3. Syphilis

Syphilis infected 7.1 million people in 2020, according to the WHO and is caused by bacteria called Treponema pallidum. It spreads when an infected person comes into direct contact with a sore called a chancre and can be passed from a mother to her child during pregnancy. Syphilis, if left untreated, can damage organs, including those associated with the reproductive system, as well as nerves. Such complications can lead to infertility in both men and women.

4. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

As its name suggests, the human papillomavirus is a virus that is sexually transmitted and causes infections. In women, it is one of the main causes of cervical cancer, affecting the cervix and a woman’s ability to conceive. In men, it can cause genital warts.

According to Dr. Ranjana Dhanu, Gynecology and Obstetrics Consultant at PD Hinduja Hospital and Khar Medical Research Center, the most common types of sexually transmitted infections include:

  1. Gonorrhea
  2. HPV
  3. Syphilis
  4. Vaginitis
  5. Chlamydia
  6. Genital herpes
  7. Genital warts
  8. Hepatitis B
  10. pubic lice
  11. Trichomoniasis

She revealed: “Symptoms usually develop within hours to days after sexual contact. The most common symptoms of STIs include burning or itching around the genital area and can rarely be symptomatic. Considering these infections being highly contagious, regular screening or testing for STDs is highly recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC. Sexually transmitted infections can sometimes become serious and incurable like HIV and therefore the population as a whole needs to be careful about promiscuous behavior and the use of some form of protection.

According to the health expert, the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases are:

  1. Severe swelling or infection OR severe itching of the vagina or penis
  2. Bumps, sores, or warts on or near the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus
  3. Discharge from the penis or smelly vaginal discharge
  4. Abnormal intermittent bleeding
  5. Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  6. Painful or frequent urination

Dr Ranjana Dhanu added: “These are the local protests. Rarely, STIs are associated with generalized skin rash, weight loss diarrhea, night sweats, body aches, fever with chills, jaundice. The main source of transfer of sexually transmitted diseases enters the body from contaminated fluids like blood, urine, semen, saliva and other mucous areas.

She listed the risk factors for STIs as follows:

  1. Being sexually active
  2. Do not use a condom as a means of protection
  3. Sharing needles that may occur during tattooing, piercing, or intravenous drug use, substance use disorder

Dr Ranjana Dhanu warned: “STIs can lead to serious complications if left untreated, for example HIV leading to AIDS, syphilis can damage organs, nervous system and fetus. Complications of STIs in women can be attributed to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancy. Speaking of STD diagnosis, she said, “Currently, there are specific tests available for early and rapid diagnosis, which include urine test, cheek swab, blood test and vagina sore swab. , urethra, cervix, penis, anus or throat. Principles of treatment to alleviate symptoms or to reduce the likelihood of spreading infection could be oral or parenteral (IV), antibacterial or antiviral.

Dr. Kshitiz Murdia has suggested the following prevention tips –

  1. Use of condoms: Condoms are an effective method to prevent the spread of STIs. Latex or polyurethane condoms can be used during vaginal, anal or oral sex to reduce the risk of transmission
  2. Vaccination: Vaccines are available for some STIs, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B. It is important to speak with a health care provider to determine if vaccination is recommended.
  3. Get tested regularly: Testing can help detect infections early and prevent the spread of infection to others
  4. Limit sexual partners: Reducing the number of sexual partners may also reduce the risk of contracting STIs
  5. Communication: Open communication with sexual partners about STIs is very crucial

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