Sexually transmitted diseases are among some of the most common infections worldwide. According to an estimation by the WHO, more than 1 million STIs are acquired daily in both the developing and the developed world!
Sexually transmitted infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens like parasites. These infections range in their severity from mildly disturbing to outright lethal. Most of these infections, however, have a cure, and the ones that are not curable can still be treated effectively to a great degree. While there are many sexually transmitted infections worldwide, some of the most common ones include Syphilis, Herpes, Chlamydia, HIV, Gonorrhea, and Trichomoniasis.
Since STIs are so prevalent, it pays well to know a little about each of the most common infections, so you know how to prevent from ever acquiring one in the first place.
TOP 10 SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
As mentioned before, sexually transmitted infections can be caused by various pathogens, so there are naturally many STIs to be worried about. However, with a little knowledge and a few simple safety precautions, you can make sure that you steer clear of all these infections effortlessly.
Here are the most common sexually transmitted infections that exist:
- Herpes Simplex
- Genital Warts (HPV)
- Hepatitis B
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Pubic Lice
The virus that causes herpes, the Herpes virus, has two strains: HSV 1 and HSV 2. While only HSV 2 is primarily associated with genital herpes, both strains can contribute to the condition. HSV 1, however, is mainly associated with a similar form of the disease but localized around the oral mucosa.
The main symptom of herpes, whether genial or oral, is blister formation. Blisters can appear anywhere on the genitals, including in or on the vagina or the penis, and they can also form in or around the anal mucosa. Oral herpes is also characterized by similar blister formation within or around the oral cavity.
Since a virus causes herpes, there is no definite cure for this infection. However, effective medicines can treat this condition to the point where the patient may experience an average lifespan with minimal blister outbursts.
GENITAL WARTS (HPV)
Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also spread through direct skin contact where warts appear. The main symptom is the formation of warts on the genitals, but HPV can also contribute to certain cancers, such as cervical, oral, and anal.
Although a virus and, therefore, cause this condition does not have a cure, several vaccines are available that effectively protect against HPV. These vaccines include Cevarix and Gardasil. These vaccines provide immunity against genital warts and the cancers associated with an HPV infection.
The CDC recommends that sexually active individuals aged 11 to 26 should get vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine is also recommended for people up to 45 years of age. Talking to your doctor about the possibility of getting vaccinated is recommended.
HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, causes AIDS. AIDS is one of the most well-known sexually transmitted infections around the world. HIV is transmitted through an infected person's unprotected sexual intercourse, vaginal or anal. The virus can travel through genital fluids, blood, and breast milk. It is worth noting that kissing or saliva exchange does not transmit HIV to other people.
HIV does not have any specific symptoms. Most early symptoms mimic a common cold with a sore throat, fever, and muscle aches. The prolonged disease can disrupt the immune system to the point where the patient becomes vulnerable to numerous infections they were previously immune against.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are effective treatments available. Anti-retroviral therapy is an effective treatment regimen against HIV. Moreover, preventative medicinal regimens like PrEP and PEP provide effective cover against the virus.
Hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver which can be both acute and chronic. This liver inflammation is caused by the hepatitis B virus, one of the many hepatitis viruses identified to date. Hepatitis B is mainly spread through unprotected sexual intercourse and blood in direct contact with contaminated substances, such as IV needles.
Hepatitis B can be easily cured and eliminated from the body, thanks to modern medicine. However, an effective cure is only possible if the disease is detected early in its course and treatment is started promptly. Vaccination is also available for all age groups, providing immaculate protection against the virus.
Unlike the four sexually transmitted infections described above, syphilis is caused by bacteria, not viruses. The bacteria that causes syphilis is known as Treponema Pallidum.
Syphilis has four different stages, which can appear at any time in an individual's life once infected. The first stage is where the syphilitic sores occur on the patient's body. These sores may not always look sore or like a harmless bump. The second stage involves a generalized syphilitic rash all over the body.
The third stage is called the latent stage because this is where all the symptoms of syphilis seem to taper off automatically. Patients with syphilis experience a spontaneous recovery in this stage and then forget about their disease. However, symptoms reappear in the fourth and the final stage of this disease, which can also come with nerve and brain damage.
There is an effective cure for syphilis with proper antibiotics.
Chlamydia is also a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by bacteria. This disease can spread through vaginal, anal, or even oral sex. Symptoms include discharge from genitals and pain during micturition (peeing), but only 25 to 50% of people with Chlamydia experience any symptoms. Antibiotics provide a definitive cure against this STI.
Gonorrhea is most commonly associated with Chlamydia. The symptoms include discharge from the genitals and pain while peeing. Only about 20% of people infected with Gonorrhea develop symptoms. This disease is quickly cured by antibiotics.
A parasite causes trichomoniasis. Both men and women can carry this parasite, but more women get infected with this pathogen than men. Trichomoniasis is transmitted through vaginal sex but can also spread among lesbian females when their genital areas come in contact.
Symptoms include painful blisters or sores on the genitals, burning sensations, and a rash. However, only about 30% of people infected with trichomoniasis develop symptoms. The rest of the people never develop any symptoms throughout their disease.
Trichomoniasis is easily cured with antibiotics. Retesting is necessary after a month or two of completing treatment to ensure no reinfection.
Bacterial vaginosis is an inflammation of the vagina. This inflammation is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria found naturally in the normal flora of the vagina. Women of all ages can develop this infection, but women in their reproductive years are the most common victims.
The symptoms include a thin, whitish-gray, foul-smelling discharge from the vagina, vaginal itching, and painful micturition. Bacterial vaginosis is not a deadly infection, but it can cause severe complications if not treated properly. Some complications include preterm birth, increased risk of acquiring other STIs, and the development of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID for short.
Pubic lice, called crabs because the lice look like tiny crabs, are small parasites measuring less than 1.6 mm. These parasites can spread through sexual contact and reside in the pubic hair of an infected person. However, there are other ways that pubic lice can get transmitted to other people, including sharing towels, bedsheets, or clothing.
These parasites feed on a person's blood from their genital area and cause severe itching. Since these lice can also be found in eyelashes and eyebrows, leading to frequent eye infections. Other complications include discolored skin and the onset of secondary infections in the genital region.
Simple over-the-counter drugs effectively get rid of these parasites and their eggs. You can also prevent getting this infection in the first place by not sharing any bedsheets or clothing with any other person. Performing safe sexual activities, such as using condoms during intercourse, may also prevent the transmission of these parasites.