diseases

6 most common sexually transmitted diseases and how to recognize them

Sexually transmitted diseases, like classic venereal diseases, are on the rise again. The reason: All too often condoms are not used during sex since the fear of AIDS has decreased. But there are still good reasons for “safer sex”.

What are sexually transmitted diseases?

Medicine distinguishes between sexually transmitted diseases and venereal diseases in the strict sense. Sexually transmitted diseases are often, but not exclusively, transmitted through sexual intercourse. These include hepatitis B, herpes, chlamydia, pubic lice, but also the AIDS virus HIV. With “classic” sexually transmitted diseases you can almost only get infected sexually. These are, for example, syphilis, gonorrhea and soft chancre.

Unfortunately, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been on the rise again since the turn of the millennium. 

Signs are typical

Symptoms, course and danger of sexually transmitted diseases are extremely different. However, there are some typical features that can indicate such a disease. If you notice anything like this, a medical examination is strongly recommended:

  • Noticeable discharge from penis, vagina or anus
  • Burning pain when urinating
  • Itching and skin changes in the genital area
  • Lumps, reddened skin, pimples, warts or lumps in the same area
  • Lymph node swelling in the groin area

In the following we will introduce you to the currently most common diseases. An exact ranking is difficult to establish because many infected people do not see a doctor. 

Chlamydia

The most common of all sexually transmitted diseases is caused by bacteria. Infection usually occurs through sexual intercourse.

  • Patients typically have thin, yellowish discharge, and sometimes have trouble urinating.
  • The symptoms are often only mildly pronounced. Therefore, an infection often goes undetected.

However, a chlamydia infection can have very unpleasant consequences: in women, for example, infertility and miscarriages, in men permanent narrowing of the urinary tract. The disease can be treated well with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea

The disease, medically known as gonorrhea, is named after the Dutch word for “drop”. This points to a typical feature: discharge and pain when “little business” on the toilet. Gonorrhea often runs without any symptoms. He is extremely contagious. The possible long-term consequences: Men can suffer an infection of the genitals and become infertile. An antibiotic usually helps against the bacterial pathogen that causes gonorrhea.

Syphilis

For a long time, syphilis was the venereal disease that spread the greatest horror – before the discovery of penicillin. The disease typically progresses in phases.

  • Initially, ulcers mainly appear in the genital and mouth area.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes indicates the gradual spread of the pathogen in the body.

The first signs usually subside after weeks. After a longer latency period, flu-like symptoms such as fever, exhaustion and body aches develop. There are also brown-red spots or nodules that can appear almost anywhere on the body. Untreated, the pathogen then rests again. Years later, the so-called late syphilis can break out with catastrophic damage to internal organs, skin, muscles and vessels.

The bacterial causative agent of syphilis can be successfully combated with antibiotics. Since then, severe or even fatal cases have become rare.

Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)

Genital warts are pointed, skin-like growths that can grow on the genitals and anus. They are almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Moisture and warmth encourage their growth.

  • The doctor can eliminate the genital warts by freezing them.
  • Unfortunately, the pathogens do not disappear from the body once you have become infected. Recurrence of the warts is therefore possible.

Human papillomaviruses can be dangerous for women: some of them are believed to be responsible for the development of cervical cancer. 

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis formerly known as “jaundice” is caused by viruses. Infection is possible through all bodily fluids, it occurs most frequently during sex.

  • Some of those infected experience hepatitis with typical yellowing of the skin, dark urine, dullness and symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Acute hepatitis B usually heals by itself after physical rest, often without the infection being noticed.

Despite the mild course, hepatitis B should not be taken lightly. If the condition becomes chronic, unpleasant liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer can result. Vaccination against the disease in children is therefore part of the medical standard today. If the condition has become chronic, the doctor can prescribe antiviral medication.

Blue wafflé disease

Lastly we have blue wafflé disease, a disease which only infects women. In this disease the vagina turns red and smelly and both the vulva and vagina become irritated and itchy. The most important thing to remember about this disease is that it’s completely fake and an internet hoax. Our reason for mentioning it here is not to scare you but to create awareness about how much fake information there is on the internet and that you should always verify any information you get from there.

Condoms still protect

A condom has a dense natural rubber wall. It prevents bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions or blood from coming into direct contact with the genital mucous membranes of a sexual partner. This normally stops the transmission of pathogens. When used properly, condoms offer practically 100% protection against the AIDS virus HIV. This also applies to most other sexually transmitted diseases.

In the case of syphilis and genital warts, however, the infectious sites can be in the entire genital and anal area – even outside the regions that are covered by a condom. Infection with these two diseases is therefore also possible when using a condom. This underscores the need to remain vigilant when engaging in sexual contact.

Also Read From MBU: Dr. Kevin Dalby Discusses 7 Diseases You Can Learn About From a Genetic Test

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