survival-doctor-ad-stabbed
My Family Doctor Blog

Google search



Free Health Newsletter

free-health-newsletterThank you for visiting! You can sign up for our free monthly newsletter here. You'll get the latest articles, with tips and insights from doctors, registered dietitians and more.

We never spam or share your email address.

Click here to read previous newsletters.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: How to Prevent and Treat

sept07-freerideby Eva F. Briggs, M.D.

Q. How do I know if I have an STD?


A.
Sexually transmitted diseases (or infections, STIs) are like hitchhikers, happy to take a free ride from one person to the next. In the United States, the microorganisms that cause STDs complete that journey 19 million times every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Statistics.

Here’s the rundown on a few of them.


CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacterial stealth expert. It causes no symptoms in three-quarters of infected women and half of infected men, according to the CDC. It can also mimic the burning of a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, chlamydia may spread to a woman’s pelvic organs, causing abdominal pain, back pain, fever or nausea.

Mild symptoms, such as discharge from the penis or cervix, often go away without treatment. But the disease isn’t gone. And in women, it silently continues to damage reproductive organs.

Symptomatic or not, infected people can transmit chlamydia to their partners via vaginal, anal or oral sex.


GONORRHEA

Urinary burning? Sore throat? Rectal bleeding and itching? Perhaps, you think, it’s just a urinary tract infection, a cold or hemorrhoids. Or maybe … it’s gonorrhea. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea often causes no symptoms, but if it does, they may fool you.

Severe infections can cause a man’s testicles to swell. In a woman, they can injure her tubes and ovaries, leading to pelvic pain, infertility or ectopic pregnancy. Occasionally, gonorrhea can also circulate through the bloodstream, resulting in fever, skin lesions and arthritis.


TRICHOMONIASIS

Trichomoniasis is an infection by a one-celled parasite. Men usually have no symptoms or develop penile irritation. Women may have vaginal burning and a frothy yellow-green discharge. Even without symptoms, or if they disappear, a person is still infectious.

The disease spreads through penile-vaginal intercourse or vulva to vulva contact. Men almost never transmit trichomoniasis to other men.

Wiggling protozoa appear in infected vaginal secretions under a microscope, or the lab can test a specimen. Trichomoniasis is difficult to diagnose in men.

A single dose of the antibiotic metronidazole cures trichomoniasis.

sept07-freeride2
GENITAL HERPES

Only a minority of people infected with genital herpes ever develop characteristic blistering sores, so avoiding herpes infection isn’t easy. Skin that appears normal can still shed virus particles, even in people unaware that they are carriers. And skin around the genitals (not covered by a condom) can spread the disease, as well.

In those who have outbreaks, the first one is the most severe and painful. Many people never get a second episode, but if they do, it’s milder. The more severe the initial outbreak, the more likely it is to recur.

Swabs of blister fluid show the virus. When there are no sores, the disease is difficult to diagnose, but blood tests can help detect it.

Antiviral medicines shorten the duration of outbreaks. Taken regularly, they reduce recurrences but don’t eradicate the virus. Daily suppressive therapy can reduce your likelihood of transmitting it.


HPV

Human papilloma virus comes in a variety of strains. Some cause genital warts, an annoyance but not life-threatening. Other strains cause cervical cancer.

Located on the genital skin and adjacent areas, genital warts can be single or clustered, few or many. They spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual acts.

Health-care providers can freeze, burn or cut them off, among other options. But there is no cure. The virus
always remains in the skin—and contagious—even if it’s dormant.

In women, Pap smears can reveal changes associated with HPV in cervical cells. The new vaccine Gardasil protects against four types of HPV—those that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

newsletter-graphic
HOW TO PREVENT STDS

The only sure way to prevent these and other sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence. Limiting your number of sexual partners and using barrier methods such as latex condoms can reduce your odds of contracting an STD.

Condoms aren’t foolproof, especially for diseases like herpes that occur in places not covered by condoms. But for maximum effectiveness, you must use condoms for every single sexual act. They can’t do their job when they’re still inside a foil wrapper.


EVA F. BRIGGS, M.D.
, is a board-certified family physician in Marcellus, N.Y., and author of the medical legal thriller Crystal Crazy.

Last updated and/or approved: March 2010. Original article appeared in summer 2007 former print magazine. Bio current as of summer 2007. This article is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.

Share/Save/Bookmark
Comments (2)add comment
0
Re: help?
written by James Hubbard, M.D. , July 11, 2011

Hello, Cara Marie. We unfortunately can't provide individual advice, but you need to have this checked by your doctor.

Sincerely,

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.
Publisher
MyFamilyDoctorMag.com

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0

0
help?
written by cara marie , July 08, 2011

i recently read your std article
i have noticed that i have a sore on my labia minora
it is dark, and it looks like its attached there
its small
also i have noticed that i get a bump on the top of my vagina
its is closed but its hurts bad, it pops sometimes with a yellowish redish liquid emerging
it comes back occasionally
it will swell up and just burst

i am still a virgin

i have only kissed.
when i was younger i played with a didlo but the person that owned it wasnt infected with anything.
i am gravely worried,
can yu give me a list of things that it may b.?
sincerely
-cara

report abuse
vote down
vote up

Votes: +0


Write comment
smaller | bigger
 

busy
 
© My Family Doctor 2017.
Magazine Publishing Website Design and Digital Magazine Media Solutions for Publishers