Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
Infectious diseases of this type are transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact. Don not accidentally think that this is just a problem for the young generation “living licentious life”! All ages are affected and it is also a mistake that only people who frequently change their partners will get these diseases: an infected partner is enough to make us sick.
The problem is that many people are asymptomatic, only carriers, and are not even aware that they are infectious. If we have symptoms, we should investigate their cause as soon as possible, because it is not possible to determine which pathogen is the cause of the disease. Don’t expect the problem to resolve itself. Depending on the type of disease, the symptoms may temporarily diminish or even disappear, but they will certainly come back as the infection persists. In this case, it is also true that we should not delay the treatment because the later the doctor sees us, the harder and longer the therapy will be.
What are the most common sexually transmitted diseases?
- Herpes simplex virus
- Ureaplasma and Mycoplasma infection
- Gonorrhoea (also known as clap)
According to our dermatologist, it would be safest if everyone had an STD screening every year, but at least a change of partner would definitely require a test. Women mostly visit a gynaecologist for this type of problem, while men visit a urologist or dermatologist. However, women are also advised to have a dermatology and venereology consultation.
How is the test and sampling done?
For women, culturing can be done from cervix and vaginal secretions, for men, it can be taken from the meatus, possibly from the foreskin of the glans, and in both cases from another intrusion gate (e.g. anus, oral mucosa). Syphilis and HIV are tested from the blood.
How many people are affected?
An interesting observation is that old diseases such as gonorrhoea and syphilis have reappeared and are often resistant to conventional antibiotic therapy. Every year, 1,200-1,600 new patients are registered in the healthcare system with gonorrhoea, 600-700 with syphilis, 900-1,100 with chlamydia, and 250-300 HIV positive patients per year. However, real numbers are probably five to twenty times higher, since people do not go to screening, so the estimated data is far below the real numbers.
Because general screening is not a common practice in society, most people only seek medical help when they have symptoms or complications. For women, these may be the classic cystitis or vaginal discharge, chronic lower abdominal pain and pain during sexual intercourse. For men, burning sensation when urinating, redness, warts. Women often treat themselves at home, so it takes more time for them to see a doctor; in these cases, men seek the advice of a specialist more quickly.
Untreated STD can lead to very serious complications, can cause chronic inflammation (e.g. inflammation of the prostate or pelvis) and, in severe cases, can lead to infertility. They are usually treated with antibiotics or antiviral medicines, which help the immune protection and inhibit the growth of viruses.
HPV is talked about a lot these days, but these important information cannot be repeated enough, considering that it is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, of which we know hundreds of types. Basically, we distinguish between low and high risk HPV viruses based on their tendency to cause cancer. Low-risk HPV (e.g. No. 6 and 11) causes warts, which are removed mechanically, by burning, freezing, or by condyloma solution. High-risk HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, penis skin, or anal or oral cancer. Commercially available vaccines provide protection against the most common 9 types of HPV. Three vaccinations should be given to the patient within 6 months.
After treatment, the control test is very important for all types of STDs, it is necessary to have sex with condom until the negative finding, or sexual contact should be avoided.
Due to the nature of the disease, not only the affected party but also the partner should be treated to avoid recurring infection.
Author: Anna Andrusch MD