Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a type of infection that is highly contagious and spreadable from one person to another via intimate contact. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1 million cases of new STDs are recorded each day around the world. The United States has been seeing actively rising STD cases since the year 2013. Massachusetts is one of the states that rank in one of the top 25 states in the US with high rates of STD cases.
What are STDs?
STDs are shortened form of Sexually Transmitted Diseases or otherwise known as Sexually Transmitted Infections that spreads from one person to another through sexual contact, which can include oral and vaginal/anal sex. Some have a myth that oral sex is safer and it doesn’t act as a carrier for STD transmission, but they are wrong. All the types of STDs have the ability to transmit through oral sex and even genital touching where you can get in contact with the infected person’s fluids.
Types of STDs
According to one study, there are more than 12 different types of STDs that can cause severe illness in both men and women. However, not all of them are of serious concern or seen everywhere. A handful of 6 different types of STDs are the dominant ones across the US. Following are the most common types of STDs:
STDs in Massachusetts, US
Massachusetts ranks one of the top 25 states in the US according to the CDC research in 2015. Following are the three most commonly reported symptoms in Massachusetts:
HIV is the most contagious and deadly virus that cannot be cured to date. However anti-retroviral drugs have been developed and used to control and suppress the virus and reduce the symptoms if addressed in the early stages.
HIV refers to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that leads to a syndrome called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) which is the final stage of HIV. HIV passes through sex, blood, and sometimes prenatally but not through other contactless means like air and water. This virus progresses in three stages namely the acute stage – where little to no symptoms are seen, then chronic stage – symptoms are popping out and the last stage is AIDS where the immune cells are suppressed and there’s no recovery back.
Following are the most common symptoms of HIV –
- Sore throat
- Weight loss
- Night sweat
- Dry cough
According to the data from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, an estimated 2,381 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in Georgia. Georgia ranked 3rd among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in the year 2016 – up from 5th the previous year.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection transmitted through skin contact during intimacy. Most of the HPV varieties are spread through sexual contact and affect the genitals, oral cavity – including throat, upper mouth, and lips. HPV can also cause cervical cancer and other cancers in the genitals and throat if left untreated for a long time and continues to expose you to other health problems like HIV. Mostly, HPV can go away on its own without showing any signs or symptoms, however, then can reappear and cause outbreak symptoms in your infected area.
HPV can be detected using a blood test. Physicians highly recommend every sexually active woman above the age of 30 screens for HPV infection at least once every 6 months.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria named Chlamydia Trachomatis which spreads from person to person through intimate contact such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is a myth that some believe oral sex doesn’t spread chlamydia. In fact, they are equally infectious and chlamydia is transmitted orally and if the symptoms occur around the oral cavity, then it is known as oral chlamydia. Symptoms of chlamydia include unusual genital discharges, frequent urination, pain while urinating, and excess vaginal bleeding in women. If you have any of these symptoms, then get tested for chlamydia as soon as possible. Leaving chlamydia untreated can lead to severe health complications such as infertility and PID in women.
Symptoms of STDs
Signs of STDs cannot be detected in the very early stages. Symptoms of STDs can vary and take anywhere from several days to multiple weeks. Often times many of the people who are sexually active, do not experience any symptoms for a while and tend to transmit the disease to all other partners in the meantime without even their knowledge. Also, most of the symptoms can resemble other diseases such as pimples, and yeast infections which can take longer to actually figure out your symptoms are caused by STDs.
Symptoms in women
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain while urinating
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pain in the back or lower abdomen
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
Symptoms in men
- Dark penile discharge
- Burning sensation during urination
- Swelling and pain in the testicles
- Anal itching
- Irritation in the penis
- Painful and irregular bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
- Joint pain
- Unusual sweat during the night
- Soreness in throat
Can STDs be cured?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases can be cured but it depends on what type of infection you have acquired. If you have been tested positive for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea or any other similar bacteria causing STDs, then your physician shall prescribe anti-biotics that fight the STD bacteria and help you recover completely. However, the STD symptoms may tend to show up late or never until the final stage of the infection has reached, then it can become quite a slothy process to get recovered. There is a catch with STD treatments — not all STDs can be cured. The types like HIV and Herpes which are caused by viruses cannot be easily or completely cured. You shall be prescribed medications that are anti-retroviral and help reduce the symptoms and slow the virus spread.
What happens if STDs are left untreated?
Some may expect the symptoms of STDs to go away on their own and wait for the signs to disappear. But, that is not a good idea when you have been sexually active in the past. Getting screened for STDs can help detect the right type of STD you are infected with and process further to get it treated or cured. Leaving any STD untreated can lead to severe health consequences that can result in long-term health complications such as infertility, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can damage your reproductive system. Some STDs can lead to even more severe complications like cancer, tuberculosis, HIV?AIDS and can be fatal.