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Sexually Transmitted Infections

What is a sexually transmitted infection?

The term sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD) is relatively new as diseases classified under the group were referred to as venereal diseases in the 1990s. These type of infections or diseases are highly contagious in nature and there is a high probability that germs of the infection will be passed on. Quite in contradiction to the general notion, scientists have asserted that sexually transmitted infection can be spread through all form of sexual acts, including oral sex, anal sex and sharing the same sex toys among same sex partners. If a sexually transmitted infection is not diagnosed and left untreated it may infect a newborn during childbirth or breastfeeding. The nomenclature of these infections was changed from venereal disease to sexually transmitted infection in order to capture a broader range of meaning that an infected person may infect others even when symptoms of an infection aren’t apparent.

Which sexually transmitted infections are the most common?

The sexually transmitted infections can be bacterial, fungal, parasitic, protozoan and viral in nature. According to available data, the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK are,

  • chlamydia
  • genital herpes
  • genital warts
  • gonorrhoea
  • HIV/AIDS and
  • syphilis

A BBC Health report (14th June, 2011) specifies that in 2009 only a total number of 424,782 (almost half a million) new cases of sexually transmitted infection were diagnosed. A serious concern has also been expressed by the same report that a majority of people with these infections belong under the age group of 15 to 26 years; consequently, it becomes clear that irrespective of the widespread awareness against the STIs, an impending threat caused by these diseases cannot be ignored in case of the physical well being of the UK youths. According to the 2009 report, it is matter of further concern that there has been a significant increase in the number of people affected by the serious STIs like, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis compared to the previous years, while chlamydia is still the most common STI of the nation. In 2008 the total number of newly diagnosed chlamydia cases in the UK was 123,018 but in 2009 a record number of 216,000 people were diagnosed with the same infection.

What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections?

The worst thing about sexually transmitted infections is that in most cases an infected person doesn’t encounter any symptom immediately. In many cases the symptoms appear almost a month after or more since the time of being infected. As specified before, unprotected sexual acts or changing partners frequently has an important part to play in this context. So, the best way to diagnose the problem is to take STI tests at a regular interval. Remember that leaving sexually transmitted infections undiagnosed and untreated may cause severe physical complications not only to you but also to others dear to you. However, the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted infections are:

  • Irritation both in and around the infected area, especially the genitals and anal parts
  • Itchy, blister-like or sore outgrowths
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse or urination
  • Unexplained bleeding from the vagina or anus
  • Inflammation of the genital organs
  • Unexplained discharge that can be frothy, smelly and coloured

How are sexually transmitted infections spread?

Most commonly, sexually transmitted infections are spread through unprotected sexual contact. In case of heterosexual couples germs of an infection can spread through oral or anal sex, apart from vaginal intercourse. In case of homosexual couples, partners are infected though unprotected oral or anal sex and sharing the same sex toys. Moreover, the STIs may also spread through sharing injection syringe with an infected person, blood transfusion, breastfeeding and during delivery.

How are sexually transmitted infections treated?

The first step to treat a STI is to diagnose it and in this context help can be taken from a GUM clinic or the STI testing packs that can be purchased from authentic online pharmacies in the UK. Once the infection is diagnosed, a physician will decide the right medication for you, considering the nature of the infection, which may be viral, bacterial, protozoan or any other type. Your physician will also decide the right strength and frequency of the medication you need to take.