Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections
STDs and Infections are typically transmitted during sexual contact through bodily fluid such as blood-to-blood, semen or vaginally. They can also be transmitted non-sexually, such as from mother to infant, also called vertical transmission, during pregnancy or childbirth. Oftentimes, the STD or infection shows no symptoms, therefore making it a possibility to contract a disease or infection from someone who appears perfectly healthy. The list below contains a summary of some of the more common STDs and Infections. If you are concerned that you may have an STD or Infection or if you have any questions related to your physical health, schedule an appointment to find out the best steps to take to resolve your concerns.
STDs related to the lower genital tract (vagina, extocervix, vulva):
Genital Herpes, medically known as herpes simplex virus (HSV), can be sexually contracted and can often lie dormant in the system for months before showing any signs or symptoms.
- Symptoms: Typically include sores, pain and itching in the genital area. Even if a person does not show any visible signs of genital herpes, they can transmit the virus to someone else.
- Treatment: Although there is no cure for genital herpes, medications can drastically ease symptoms and reduce the risk of infecting others.
Like warts that appear anywhere on the body, Genital Warts are caused by the benign (non-cancerous) forms of human papillomavirus (HPV), and are one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections.
- Symptoms: Genital warts are typically small bumps that may develop into larger clusters and often cause itching or discomfort in the genital area. In some cases, they may not be seen by the naked eye.
- Treatment: If you are not experiencing discomfort from your symptoms, you may not need treatment. However, if you are experiencing pain or are distressed by having visible symptoms, see a physician to see how you may minimize your symptoms and clear outbreaks. There are available vaccines to prevent contracting HPV.
Human papillomavirus (HPV):
Along with genital warts, HPV may cause cervical cancer. There are over 40 strains of HPV, most of which do not cause cancer.
- Symptoms: In cases where high risk HPV may lead to cervical cancer there are often no symptoms which is why it is important to get annual Pap smears.
- Prevention: There are available vaccines to prevent contracting HPV.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis.
- Symptoms: Vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, and lower abdominal pain. If symptoms occur they may appear 1-3 weeks after exposure or there may be no symptoms.
- Treatment: Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. In most cases, the infection is resolved in 1 to 2 weeks. During this time, you should abstain from sex. It is important that your partner also be treated as they may not be showing any signs or symptoms and you may continue to contract the disease between each other.
Gonorrhea is a bacterium. In women, gonorrhea most often affects the urethra, rectum, throat and cervix. Babies may also contract gonorrhea during childbirth if their mothers are infected.
- Symptoms: Symptoms are similar to chlamydia; vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse and lower abdominal pain.
- Treatment: Treatment is through antibiotics. During this time you should abstain from sex. It is important that your partner receive treatment as well.
Syphilis is usually spread via sexual contact caused by Treponema Pallidium. There are different levels of Syphilis. At its highest grade, your body is neurologically infected and it becomes very difficult to treat.
- Symptoms: Syphilis often begins as a painless sore, typically on the genitals, rectum or mouth and then may lie dormant in your system for many years.
- Treatment: In early stages, Syphilis can most often be treated by receiving injections In its later stages, Syphilis becomes increasingly difficult to treat and may severely damage your heart, brain or other organs.
STDs related to the upper genital tract (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes):
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID):
PID is an infection of any combination of the endometrium, fallopian tubes, ovaries or uterus and can affect your fertility, cause ectopic pregnancy or chronic pelvic pain. It is caused by the spread of infections via the cervix and is often associated with sexually transmitted infections. If you are experiencing minimal or subtle signs, it is important to visit your gynecologist as it may help reduce the incidence of long-term complications.
- Symptoms: The most common symptom is pain in the pelvis while some experience vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, fever and chills and nausea.
- Treatment: There are several different regimes to treat PID based on the criteria of the patient. Treatment ranges from oral medication to hospitalization with IV antibiotics. In some instances, patient will require surgery.
Endometritis is inflammation in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, caused by chlamydia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis or mixtures of bacterium in the vagina. It is more like to occur after childbirth or after an operation that enters the cervix. If left untreated, Endometritis can lead to more serious infection and complications with pelvic organs, fertility and overall health.
- Symptoms: High fever, lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding or discharge.
- Treatment: Endometritis is usually treated with antibiotics. Partners may need to be treated if the condition is caused by a sexually transmitted disease. With treatment, Endometritis should go away.
STDs that often go undetected in their early stages:
- HIV: HIV has no gynecological symptoms until advanced stages. There is no cure for HIV but through medication, its progress can be drastically slowed.
- Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B has no gynecological symptoms, even in advanced stages. It is a serious liver infection that can be extremely harmful to overall health if not treated. Although it is not curable, through medication most signs and symptoms can be drastically reduced. There is a vaccination that can be taken to prevent contracting the disease.
- Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C has no gynecological symptoms, even in advanced stages, and can very often go undetected unless/until the infection has severely infected the liver. With medical treatment, some cases may be controlled.Awareness to the above STDs is the key to prevention, as once contracted, they will stay with you for the rest of your life, negatively affecting your long-term health. Be sure to practice safe sex and to avoid carelessness in terms of selecting your sexual partners.
Book an appointment at Fakih IVF today to discuss your sexual health with your physician.