Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that are spread through sexual contact. The risk increases with the number of sex partners you have. Most STDs can be avoided through safe sexual practices. And most STDs can be cured if detected and treated early. However, many STDs don’t have early symptoms.
The only truly safe sex is abstinence. If you do engage in sexual relations then be sure to use a condom for every sexual encounter along with a spermicide containing nonoxynol 9 to significantly lower your risk of getting some STDs and the HIV virus.
Herpes simplex 11, also know as genital herpes, is a viral infection. Herpes appears as blisters on the genitals. The sores appear up to 20 days after exposure. The blisters may go away, but will return, especially after prolonged exposure to sunlight and stress. The average person with herpes has four to seven flare-ups a year. Sexual contact and tight clothing should be avoided during outbreaks.
- - painful sores or blisters that appear on the penis, rectum and sometimes the mouth
- - headache fever
- - muscle aches swollen lymph nodes
- - There is no cure.
- - Antiviral medication can be given to treat the pain and lessen the frequency and severity of the attacks.
The most deadly of all STDs is AIDS. The virus (HIV) attacks and destroys the body’s immune system so a person is easily infected with other life-threatening diseases. AIDS is spreading rapidly among heterosexuals, especially teenagers. At special risk are individuals who have multiple sex partners and IV drug users. The virus is present in semen and vaginal secretions and it enters the body through small tears in body tissue during sexual activity. Early detection by blood test is recommended.
- - fever
- - diarrhea
- - night sweats
- - weight loss
- - fatigue
- - swollen glands
- There is no known cure.
- New medications are being used to help control AIDS and AIDS-related symptoms.
Gonorrhea is the most frequently reported STD in the United States. It’s caused by bacteria that thrive in moist, dark places such as the cervix, penis, throat or rectum. If left untreated, sterility can occur.
- tingling sensation in the urethra painful, milky discharge
- Antibiotics can successfully treat gonorrhea.
Venereal warts are caused by a viral infection.
- tiny, flat or cauliflower-like wart clusters
The warts should be treated immediately because they can spread very fast. The warts can be frozen, burned off or treated with a liquid. If the warts come back, treatment can be repeated.
This is the most common and fastest spreading of all the STDS. One quarter of people infected with chlamydia will become sterile as a result.
- - penile discharge
- - dull pain in the lower abdomen
- - itching or burning of the genitals
- Antibiotics such as tetracycline are prescribed for this disease.
Syphilis is a dangerous bacteria-based STD. Once in the body it can travel through the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the heart, brain and spinal cord. A simple blood test can detect syphilis.
Syphilis occurs in three stages.
1) Up to 12 weeks after contact, reddish bumps called chancres will occur on the penis, anus and sometimes the mouth or lips. These will go away in a week or so.
2) Up to six months after contact, a rash may appear on the chest, back, arms, legs, palms, hands or soles of the feet.
It’s often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, weakness or fatigue. Get medical help immediately.
If untreated, the symptoms will disappear only to recur up to 20 years later and cause serious, even fatal consequences.
Syphilis is usually treated with injections of antibiotics.