Sexually transmitted infections are disease conditions that are transmitted via sexual intercourse. They can be transmitted via any form of sexual exposure {anal/oral/vaginal}. According to WHO, there are about 357 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year. About 1 of 4 of the cases are chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis infection. People acquire more than 1 million STIs every day. More than 500 million people may have genital infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV). Also, more than 290 million women have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection worldwide.

Some examples of sexually transmitted disease include;

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Chancroid
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • trichomoniasis
  • Human papilloma virus and genital warts
  • Genital herpes
  • Public lice and scabies
  • Zika virus
  • Hepatitis B and C

Sexually transmitted diseases don’t manifest early in women when you compare with men. The symptoms are usually non-specific. Condoms can protect against some sexually transmitted diseases, however, they do not offer 100% protection.

There are treatments for some sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, and scabies. However, there is no treatment for others such as HIV, herpes and hepatitis. There are vaccines for some of these diseases such as human papillomavirus (Cervarix / Gardasil vaccine) and hepatitis B. Most noteworthy, delay in the manifestation of symptoms leads to delay in presentation and increased associated complication in women.

Also Read: 15 causes of painful sex in women

The effects of sexually transmitted diseases are;

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease with associated abnormal vaginal discharge and abdominal pain
  • Cervical cancer and anogenital cancers: These results from complications of human papillomavirus. According to WHO, the virus causes 528 000 cases of cervical cancer and 266 000 cervical cancer deaths each year.
  • Liver cirrhosis and cancer complications from hepatitis b are responsible for 1-2 million deaths a year.
  • Urinary tract infection; this commonly occurs in chlamydia infection
  • Cervicitis
  • Infertility: Chlamydia causes a massive and extensive destruction of the fallopian tube.
  • Premature births: The presence of sexually transmitted disease in a pregnant woman predisposes her to have preterm labour and delivery
  • Mother to child transmission of diseases such as gonorrhoea can lead to severe eye infection and pneumonia in the newly born child. Syphilis can also lead to blindness and death in a newborn. Over 900 000 pregnant women with syphilis experienced approximately 350 000 adverse birth outcomes including stillbirths in 2012. Mothers can aslo transmit hepatitis to their children.
  • Herpes and syphilis infection can increase the risk of HIV acquisition three-fold or more.
  • Untreated syphilis can lead to enlargement of the aorta, stroke and deafness.
  • Re-occurring painful sores in the genital region as in herpes infection.
  • AIDS is the long-term complication of human immunodeficiency virus {HIV}. Patients suffer from weight loss, unusual infections and death.
  • Zika virus infection induces birth defects. The defects include microcephaly and mental retardation.

It is important to note that some of these diseases can even be spread via kissing. Couples should practice safe sex and avoid multiple sexual partners. If you notice any symptom of a sexually transmitted disease, please visit your doctor for prompt treatment.

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