Sexually transmitted diseases – STDs or sexually transmitted infections – STIs are serious health issues. It is important to learn and be informed on STDs in order to be able to protect yourself.
As the name implies, STDs are spread through sex (vaginal, oral, anal or genital touching) and close sexual contact. Passed from person to person through blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. It is possible for STDs to be transmitted nonsexually, for instance from a mother to their infants during pregnancy or childbirth, through blood transfusions or shared needles.
Sometimes STDs have no signs or symptoms. Even in such cases, a healthy looking person with no symptoms can still transmit STDs to others. For this reason, if someone discovered they had an STD, it is their responsibility to communicate this with their sexual partners. This is so they can also get screened, receive treatment and possibly prevent further transmission.
Not any regular rash, small reddish-brown bumps on any area of the body. This can be on the infected area; genitals, rectum, tongue or lips. The rash can also appear on the palms or soles of the feet. Such a rash is a sign and symptom of syphilis, HIV and herpes.
2. Open sores
Open sores are also referred to as ulcers. These can be on, nearby or inside the genital or anal area. Ulcers can make urination painful. This can also mean pain and tenderness in the genital area until the infection clears. Open sores are a sign and symptom of syphilis and herpes.
3. Painful urination
Pain or a burning sensation during urination is a common sign of an STD. This is also a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney stones. Getting screened is important so treatment can be started. It is a sign of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes.
4. Unusual discharge or swelling of the male genitals
Penile discharge may be watery (clear), cloudy (containing pus) or bloody. This can contribute to burning or pain during urination. Genital swelling refers to swelling of the scrotum or the testicles within the scrotum. These are signs of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and in rare cases herpes.
5. Abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding
Bleeding through menstruation and vaginal discharge are normal. However, if it is excessive bleeding (during or between periods) or the discharge is strangely coloured and smells bad there is a reason for concern. This is a sign and symptom of gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
Itching in, on or around the genital area; vagina, penis, the inner thighs or the buttocks (rectum or anal itchiness). The itchiness and the need to scratch can be discomforting. Itching is a common sign and symptom of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, herpes and genital warts.
7. Lower abdominal Pain
This pain originates in the pelvic area and is felt in the lower abdomen. This pain can be cramping, dull, or even intense. Abdominal pain can also come from the liver area, on the right side below the ribs. This is a sign and symptom for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, herpes and genital warts.
Fevers are an indication that the body is trying to fight off an infection, it is possible for this to be a sexually transmitted infection. Fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or headaches can be a sign of a number of STDs. They are signs and symptoms of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis A and herpes.
9. Swollen lymph nodes
Swollen lymph nodes are often the result of a bacterial or viral infection. They play a vital role in the body fighting off infections. Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin. This is a sign and symptom of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes and HIV.
10. Diarrhea or painful bowel movements
Diarrhoea is often thought to be brought about by eating something bad, it can also be caused by STDs. Diarrhoea as well as painful bowel movements are signs and symptoms of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV and herpes.
Anyone who is sexually active is potentially being exposed to the possibility of contracting an STD. There are aspects that do increase the risk; such as unprotected sex, sexual abuse, multiple sexual partners or injectable drugs. On top of this, many people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of contracting the STD. Screening is therefore important, if you are sexually active it is recommended to get an STD test at least once a year.