STIs in general are diseases that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. It must be mentioned here that these diseases can also be transmitted through oral and anal contacts and do not focus only on vaginal contacts. All gender diseases can be avoided through mechanical contraception, especially condoms.
The most common STDs are listed below:
- STDs caused by viruses
- Venereal diseases are caused by bacteria
- STDs caused by other pathogens
STDs caused by viruses
This disease is also one of the sexually transmitted diseases and is transmitted directly through contact with the infected area.
The pathogens are the herpes simplex viruses (HSV). Since, in addition to sexual intercourse, direct contact with infected skin also transmits the disease, a condom provides only limited protection.
You should immediately clean the areas of skin thoroughly if you come into contact with a sick person in those areas. If you have this disease, the risk of developing other sexually transmitted diseases increases.
For many people, the virus lies dormant in the body without being noticed. That is why it is very often transmitted unknowingly. Immediately after infection, red spots appear in the places where the pathogen has penetrated the body and blisters form that itch, pain or burn, which later give way to small ulcers. These symptoms are accompanied by typical symptoms of flu-like infections such as muscle pain and fever. The virus can then rest for months to years until the immune system is weak and the disease can break out again.
Read more on the topic: Genital herpes
Genital warts (condylomas)
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is an extremely widespread sexually transmitted disease worldwide. This disease is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse but also through contact with infected skin areas. The viruses attack the epithelial cells in the skin and mucous membrane.
There are high-risk virus types that almost always cause cervical cancer and other cancers of the genital area. For those types there is the prophylactic cervical cancer vaccination, which should be done in young women, as well as the preventive medical check-up at the gynecologist.
Low-risk types can form genital warts (condylomas), which are benign growths in the genital area, or cause no symptoms at all. There are also some that infect the oral cavity, for example through oral sex, and lead to growths there too. There is no medication for this disease either.
It is also important that, especially in the case of children who develop genital warts, just as with all other sexually transmitted diseases, if they occur in a child, one examines exactly where they come from, especially with regard to sexual abuse.
Read more about this under: Are genital warts contagious?
HIV and AIDS
Unfortunately, HIV is still a very widespread sexually transmitted disease. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the later stage of the disease in which symptoms are already increasing and the number of T cells as part of the immune system has fallen sharply.
In developing countries in particular, there is often a lack of education and sufficient information on contraception and AIDS and HIV. Usually no condoms are used, which could prevent the infection from being infected. In addition to sexual intercourse, the pathogen can also be transmitted via infected needles, blood in general and at birth. Homosexuals in particular represent a risk group, as the infection rate is higher here and the risk of infection is higher with anal intercourse than with vaginal intercourse.
The first signs are like the flu and are therefore often overlooked. On the one hand, lymph node swelling, fever and other signs of infection such as night sweats or weight loss usually occur within the first few weeks after the initial infection. This is followed by a symptom-free phase. Only when it comes to AIDS do other symptoms appear, as the patients are not adequately protected against other pathogens due to their weakened immune system. Pneumonia or fungal infections then often occur.
Read more on the topic: AIDS or Lymph node swelling- what evidence is there that it is HIV?
Hepatitis B is one of those diseases that you can get vaccinated against. Usually you get your first vaccination when you are a baby. Most people are protected for a lifetime afterwards. If you are not sure whether you are still adequately protected, a titer determination is always recommended.
Hepatitis B is an infectious viral disease that attacks the liver. The virus is called hepatitis B virus (HBV). This disease is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse, but the bloodstream is also a possible source of infection. In the vast majority of people, the disease is acute and causes inflammation of the liver and muscle problems, loss of appetite and nausea, which subsides and usually heals completely after a month or a little longer.
In some patients, however, the disease becomes chronic, which can lead to irreparable and serious liver damage. Acute hepatitis is usually only treated symptomatically. In the case of a chronic disease, drugs are used that prevent more viruses from being produced.
Read more on the topic: Hepatitis B.
STDs caused by bacteria
This disease is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which can also be called gonococci. Similar to the syphilis pathogens, these bacteria can almost exclusively be transmitted through sexual contact and can be fended off just as easily with condoms. There are two different forms of the disease, chronic and acute.
Mainly the mucous membranes in the genital area, as well as those of the urinary tract, the intestines (anal intercourse) and the eyes are infected.
Symptoms are mainly a yellowish discharge, especially in the morning in men and women, and itching. If gonorrhea is left untreated, it can in the worst case lead to sterility in men and women. Therefore, both sexual partners should be treated at the same time.
Read more about this here: gonorrhea
Chlamydia infection is caused by bacteria, especially Chlamydia trachomatis.
- Read more on the topic: Chlamydia
They are mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse and mainly infect the mucous membranes in the genital area, in the eyes and the urinary tract.
The typical symptoms are burning and itching in the genital area and when urinating and a yellowish or purulent discharge. In some cases, however, no symptoms are visible at all. If the disease is left untreated, it can lead to purulent inflammation in both men and women and consequently lead to infertility.
The infection can take a further course of the disease, which is called lymphogranuloma venerum. In the beginning of this disease, small tumors develop in the area where the pathogens enter the body. These are painless and subside after a few weeks.
Later it comes to inflammation of the infected areas and to painful lymph node swelling and lymph node inflammation in the groin area. The covering skin sometimes turns downright blue. In addition, abscesses are increasingly forming. The illness can be accompanied by fever and joint and muscle pain.
If left untreated, the lymphatic drainage can be destroyed and in very severe cases even elephantiasis (particularly thick body parts due to lymph deposits). In addition, painful ulcers usually develop in the intestinal and genital areas.
- For more detailed information about the therapy, read our article: Treatment of a chlamydial infection
One of the best known sexually transmitted diseases is syphilis (syphilis, hard chancre). It represents an infection with the bacterium Treponema pallidum. This is transmitted during sexual intercourse and penetrates the body through the mucous membranes. The bacterium can also be transmitted to the unborn child during pregnancy and cause considerable damage. For this reason, if possible, a screening test for the causative agent of syphilis is carried out during the first prenatal check-up.
The characteristic feature of syphilis is the long latency period. This means that there can often be several years between the stages in which the patient remains symptom-free and has no symptoms, but the pathogen can be detected in the serum.
The disease has four stages, each of which can also last for years. In the first stage, a small nodule forms where the pathogen has entered the body (i.e. mostly on the genital organs), which grows into a painless ulcer and then heals again. In addition, the lymph nodes swell. In the second stage, the pathogen has spread all over the body and a rash dominates large areas of the skin. The inner surfaces of the hands and feet are particularly affected. Cure is still possible in the first two stages, but during this time the disease is also highly contagious and, due to its severity, a reportable disease.
Later, in stages 3 and 4, more and more ulcers develop and the pathogens attack the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system with serious consequences. The pathogens can be isolated and examined by means of a smear. The diagnosis is made using a sequence of special laboratory medical methods.
Depending on the stage, syphilis can be treated with various antibiotics, whereby the prognosis is good if it is detected early and therapy is initiated. In the latter stage, however, most patients die from complications of the nervous or cardiovascular system. The safest way to protect yourself is to use condoms during sexual intercourse.
Read more on the topic: syphilis
Soft chancre (ulcus molle)
This is a very rare STD in Europe, but it is more common in Africa and other tropical regions. The disease is almost exclusively transmitted through sexual practices and is caused by the pathogen Haemophilus ducreyi. It is mainly men who are infected. Women, on the other hand, often remain symptom-free.
After a few days, an ulcer forms at the place where the pathogen enters, on the penis or vagina (Ulcer), which is extremely painful. In addition, the lymph nodes in the groin area swell significantly. Here too, whoever protects himself with a condom reduces the likelihood of being infected many times over.
STDs caused by other pathogens
Mycoses are generally understood to be diseases that are caused by fungi.
Vaginal fungus is one of the best-known fungal diseases in the genital area in women. The main culprit of fungus in the genital area in men and women is Candida albicans.
In particular, itching and, in some cases, burning are indications of a possible fungal disease. A crumbly or yellowish discharge can also be an indication.
In most women, fungal infections are caused by too much hygiene. Washing too much with pH neutral soaps can destroy the protective vaginal flora. A damaged immune system is also often the trigger.
Of course, poor hygiene can also cause a fungal infection. And as with the previous illnesses, unprotected sexual intercourse also plays a major role here.
The causative agents of trichomoniasis are protozoa, in women the Trichomonas vaginalis, which are almost exclusively transmitted through sexual contact.
The disease is often symptom-free, especially in men. Burning and itching become noticeable in some women, as bacteria are often found in addition to the protozoa. A foul smelling, sometimes greenish-looking discharge has also been described. Often the urinary tract becomes inflamed and it can even lead to temporary infertility.
An antibiotic also helps very quickly and reliably with this disease.
Find out more about diagnostics, symptoms and therapy Trichomoniasis.
Rapid test for sexually transmitted diseases
In order to diagnose some of the diseases mentioned above, there is a large number of rapid tests for home use that can be purchased online. However, caution is required when using it. These tests have been rated as unreliable by the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases and their use is not recommended. If a sexually transmitted disease is suspected, a doctor should always be consulted, as only he can carry out a reliable diagnosis and at the same time advise on the disease and therapy.
Read more on the subject at: Rapid test for sexually transmitted diseases