Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Chlamydia, genital warts, HIV - infectious diseases that are transmitted through sex are taboo for many. However, early detection and treatment are important

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Sex is the nicest thing in the world. Unfortunately, diseases can also be transmitted during lovemaking. Doctors speak of "sexually transmitted diseases" or with the English name: "sexually transmitted diseases", STD for short.

As the name suggests, STDs are transmitted during sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are, for example, trichomonas infections, genital herpes, fungal infections of the genitals and genital warts. However, safer sex can reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. For example, safe sex includes the use of condoms. Safe sex therefore also means taking your own health and that of other people into consideration.

The following diseases are also counted among the sexually transmitted diseases: syphilis, gonorrhea, soft chancre (ulcus molle) and chlamydial infections.

The following is a brief overview of some sexually transmitted diseases.

Chlamydial infection

Chlamydial infections are among the most common sexually transmitted bacterial diseases.

For example, a symptom of chlamydial infection in men and women can be a light, yellowish discharge that is sometimes associated with painful urination. The pathogen can cause inflammation of the uterine lining and fallopian tubes in women. A fallopian tube infection is also very common. Symptoms usually appear around one to three weeks after infection.

However, since the symptoms are often only very weak and a chlamydial infection can proceed without symptoms, many cases of the disease remain undetected. They can lead to premature delivery in women, as well as ectopic pregnancies and infertility.

Treatment of a chlamydial infection is done with antibiotics.

Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV). These viruses cause skin warts, for example, on the vagina, the labia, the penis and the anus. However, the viruses are not always harmless: some of them are so-called "high-risk" viruses, which can contribute to the development of cervical cancer.

The treatment of genital warts is easier, the smaller they are and the earlier the patient starts therapy. For example, the genital warts can be removed by freezing, removing or applying certain creams or solutions.

However, the human papillomaviruses can remain in the body even after the warts have been removed and, similar to herpes, cannot be finally destroyed. Therefore, the genital warts can form again.

Fungal diseases of the genitals

The most common pathogens causing fungal diseases of the genitals are yeasts (Candida albicans). These fungi can be found in small numbers in the normal bacterial flora of most people, but usually do not lead to symptoms of the disease. In women, for example, there is often a small number of yeast fungi in the vagina. However, the acid-producing bacteria in a healthy vaginal flora usually prevent the yeast from getting out of hand.

There are many reasons why the fungi can multiply and become infected. In women, excessive hygiene is sometimes a trigger: If the biological balance of the vaginal flora is disturbed, for example by vaginal douching, a fungal infection can occur there.

In women, the fungus causes, among other things, an inflammatory reddening of the labia and the vagina ("vulvovaginitis"). They may also experience pain during intercourse and whitish, crumbly discharge ("fluorine"). However, the itching that is sometimes associated with the vaginal fungus is particularly agonizing.

In men, for example, the fungal infection can cause inflammation of the glans and foreskin (balanitis): the foreskin and glans are reddened and sometimes oozing. Burning pain can also occur.

A number of antifungal agents are available for local treatment. Doctors often recommend that their patients use vaginal suppositories with lactic acid bacteria at the end of the treatment so that the vagina can quickly restore its natural acidic environment. If the topical therapy is unsuccessful, there is the possibility of a treatment with an anti-fungal medication.

Gonorrhea

Tripper is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoea and is extremely contagious. The bacteria not only infect the genital tract and organs, but can also be found in the throat or rectum, for example.

Since the disease often has few symptoms in the beginning, it can become chronic and lead to infertility. In men, untreated gonorrhea can, for example, lead to an infection of the prostate or epididymis. This can also lead to infertility.

If symptoms appear, these are often burning pain when urinating and milky-purulent discharge in both women and men.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics. Using condoms during intercourse helps prevent infection.

syphilis

The symptoms of this sexually transmitted disease show up not only in the genital organs, but can affect almost the whole body. Syphilis is triggered by bacteria of the Treponema pallidum type. The infectious disease occurs all over the world. However, since the effective treatment with antibiotics, the incidence has decreased dramatically worldwide.

Syphilis has several stages.

About three weeks after the infection, small, painless tumors develop where the pathogen entered the body, for example in the genital or mouth area. These tumors are called "Harter Schancker". At about the same time there is an inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes ("lymphadenitis") because the germ has penetrated to the lymph vessels. If left untreated, the ulcer will heal on its own in about five weeks.

Around four to ten weeks after the infection, the person affected feels general symptoms: headache, flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue or joint pain - the pathogen has spread throughout the body. All lymph nodes can be swollen, and a rash can develop on the skin, especially on the palms of the hands and soles. After a certain period of time, these symptoms subside.

Late syphilis is very rare in the western world nowadays, as in most cases treatment is given beforehand. Late syphilis occurs after a certain period of time, sometimes lasting several years, without symptoms. In late syphilis, among other things, damage to the skin and blood vessels occurs. Finally, the nervous system is attacked. Syphilis can be fatal if left untreated.

The treatment of choice for syphlilis is antibiotics.

HIV infection / AIDS

The immunodeficiency disease AIDS, which was first observed in the early 1980s, is also a sexually transmitted disease.

It is triggered by the HI virus (human immunodeficiency virus). The virus is found in body fluids - particularly highly concentrated in blood and semen. AIDS is now mainly transmitted through unprotected sex.

But not only body fluids exchanged during sex such as semen or vaginal secretions can lead to an infection. The viruses are also transmitted, for example, by reusing needles that have already been used when injecting drugs. HIV-positive women can infect their babies with the virus when they are born.

If you come into contact with virus-containing body fluids and there is a risk of transmission of the HI virus, there is the option of so-called post-exposure prophylaxis. An HIV infection can now be treated with medication. Therapy can also prevent the virus from being passed on to other people.