Sexually Transmitted Infections
Top Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), is broadly classified as bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. They are mostly spread through sexual intercourse, or in some cases, skin-to-skin contact with another infected party. Some may be successfully treated while others may not. The symptoms and complications also differ by the type of STI. This article will detail some common symptoms and causes of STI.
Chlamydia is reportedly infecting mostly women, even though men get infected too. According to the STI statistics reported in the US and the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Singapore (DSC), chlamydia tops the chart and this figure has been on the rise. One can contract it by having vaginal, anal or oral sex.
The symptoms for men can include, unusual discharge, burning sensation and itching at the opening of the penis, and pain during urination. Complications for men like sterility is rare. Chlamydia can be treated with a course of antibiotics, where all sexual partners are advised to be screened and treated accordingly. They should abstain from all sexual activities during this course of treatment.
Syphilis is another STI which is not as common. Infection is from the direct contact of the syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The risk of contracting this disease is higher and it is in parallel with HIV infection since there is an open sore. The symptoms are very similar to most common STIs and hence it is not easily differentiated.
Syphilis is divided into three stages. The primary stage sees the appearance of a single sore, chancre, or multiple sores. These sores appear where the infection enters the body. The secondary stage will see the appearance of skin rashes, and may include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Without treatment of the prior two stages, the person may develop into the latent, or hidden stage, where symptoms and signs no longer persist, but the person still can infect another person. Complications include damages to the internal organs. This damage may be serious enough to cause death. Treatment is straightforward in the earlier stages with a shot of penicillin or antibiotic. Additional doses are needed for people with infection of more than one year.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common STIs reported in Singapore. Infection is spread from direct contact of the mouth, vaginal, anus and penis. Symptoms may include a burning sensation when urinating. There may be a green or yellow discharge from the penis, and swelling in the testicles. In cases where there is rectal infection, there may be itching, discharge and painful bowel movements. If the infection is in the throat, there may be cases of sore throat. Complications, if left untreated may lead to infertility in men.It can be life threatening if the infection spreads into the blood and joints.
Treatment of gonorrhea can be with a course of antibiotics. However, there may be cases and drugs resistant strains of gonorrhea which will require doses of two different kinds of drugs. A full recovery can be seen from treatment, but that does not immunize the person from getting the infection again.
Genital Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 is the cause of most genital herpes. It is one of the most common STIs diagnosed in Singapore and in the US. Symptoms are minimal and will go away if left untreated. Symptoms can take the form of a cluster of blisters around the genitals or rectum. They usually breaks and forms ulcers and sores.
Subsequent breakouts, if any, will take a shorter time to heal. These breakouts will decrease over the years, but typically one would expect four to five breakouts in a year during the initial stage. One can get infected by having contact with the sores. Infection can also spread when the skin does not have the sore. There is currently no cure for genital herpes. Anti-viral medications can be administered to shorten or prevent outbreaks, and daily suppressive therapy can be taken to reduce chances of passing it to your partner.
Genital warts is one of the top five most reported STIs. It is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and passes on from genital contact during sex. There is almost no signs when one contracts HPV. But if they do,it can be in the form of genital warts, and some other types may even cause anal, penile or oropharyngeal cancer.
Genital warts can appear as a single or a group of bumps in the shape of cauliflower, around the genitals, anus, thigh and groin. This raised bumps usually do not cause pain. Genital warts if left untreatedwill remain the same or grow bigger in size or number but they will not develop into cancer. Genital warts can be surgically removed or frozen off. Treatment may not stop the warts from coming back, hence several courses of treatment are sometimes necessary. Also, treatment does not lower the chance of one passing HPV to their partner. HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is available to protect against the HPV types that cause most genital warts and most anal cancers.
Nongonococal Urethritis (NGU) has symptoms that are similar to gonorrhea, but may not be treated the same way. It infects the urinary tract that leads from the bladder to outside of the body. It is one of the most common STIs reported in Singapore. NGU can be a result of chlamydia, even though some other bacterium infection also causes symptoms similar to NGU. NGU can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
You can read more LGBT-friendly information about STIs at the website of the DSC Clinic.