Sexually Transmitted Diseases, STDs
STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. As the name implies, these are illnesses contracted by sexually contact. Sexual contact includes vaginal and anal intercourse, mutual masturbation and oral sex. The following is a list of common STD’s along with their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:
Gonorrhea – This disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It most commonly has no symptoms at all. Sometimes a foul yellowish green colored discharge may be present. The diagnosis is made by culture or DNA detection techniques. It is treated with antibiotics. If untreated, gonorrhea may develop into pelvic inflammatory disease and subsequent infertility or ectopic pregnancy, or may even infect joints, such as the knee. Partners should be treated.
Chlamydia – This disease is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. Most commonly there are no symptoms at all but it may present with a yellowish green discharge. The diagnosis is made by DNA probe assay, polymerase chain reaction, or culture. It is treated by using antibiotics. Partners should be treated.
Trichomonas– Trichomonas vaginalis is the protozoan organism that causes this disease. The classic symptoms include frothy light green vaginal discharge and itching. Occasionally, there may be abdominal discomfort. The diagnosis is usually made by visualizing the organism on a slide prepared from a sample of vaginal fluid. It is usually treated with an antibiotic called Flagyl. Partners should be treated.
Herpes – The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is responsible for this STD. The primary outbreak is characterized by a cluster of blisters accompanied by severe pain, but many people may not have symptoms. The diagnosis confirmed by culture or DNA detection techniques if a lesion is present, although antibodies may be detected in the blood if a lesion isn’t present. Once you contract this virus, you will have it for life, but many people do not have many recurrences. The treatment goal in herpes is to decrease the frequency and duration of outbreaks. This is achieved using various forms of antiviral medications. Partners should be notified.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – This virus may present as genital warts or cervical dysplasia (abnormal cells on the Pap smear), and some strains are known to cause cervical cancer. Genital warts are diagnosed by clinical exam and/or biopsy, and they may be destroyed by applying a destructive agent to the visible wart or cervix. Strains of HPV can result in the development of dysplasia of the cervix, or cervical cancer in the worst cases. None of these viruses can be eradicated once contracted, but parts of the cervix affected by cervical cancer or precancer can be removed if the disease is detected early, which can prevent cervical cancer from developing or spreading. The HPV vaccine can prevent patients from contracting some of the most dangerous strains of HPV.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – This virus can be acquired by sexual contact, blood contact, or be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby. This disease may remain silent for many years before showing symptoms. The diagnosis is usually made by detecting antibodies in a blood sample. Due to a delay in the development of antibodies, the HIV antibody test should be repeated 3 to 6 months after the initial screening, if recent exposure is suspected. Signs may vary greatly but are all related to suppression of the immune system. These may include cervical dysplasia, enlarged lymph nodes, pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma, to name few. There is no cure for HIV. However, the incidence of transmission from mother to baby may be dramatically decreased with medication treatment during pregnancy and labor. Partners should be notified.
Syphilis – An organism called Treponema pallidum causes syphilis. The initial presenting sign is a painless ulcer. The patient can later develop a rash or neurological problems. Diagnosis is made by blood testing. The mainstay of treatment is penicillin. This disease can be passed on from mother to child. For this reason, all women are screened during pregnancy. Partners should be notified and treated.
What is PID?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) refers to an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This infection leads to inflammation and scarring that may affect any or all of these female organs. PID is one of the most serious complications of sexually transmitted diseases. Women at risk to contract PID often have multiple sexual partners, are not using contraception, have menstrual periods, and live in an area where the diagnosis is frequently made. The most common bacteria that cause PID are gonorrhea and chlamydia. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain and foul smelling discharge. This illness is treated with antibiotics. If the condition is severe enough it may require IV antibiotics, hospitalization and surgery. Some possible long-term effects of PID include tubal (ectopic) pregnancy, infertility and chronic pelvic pain from scar tissue.