Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health concern in India. STDs are infections caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses that are spread through sexual contact—contact that may be genital, oral or anal. Various health departments estimates that there are approximately 19 million new STD infections every year— almost half of them among young people 15 to 24 years of age. While many STDSs can be treated with antibiotics, some STDs don’t have symptoms and often go undiagnosed and untreated, which may lead to severe health consequences, especially for women. Although condoms are highly effective for reducing transmission of STDs, individuals are still at risk of contracting an STD if they are sexually active.
If you think you have an STD, see your doctor. It’s important to be evaluated, and – if diagnosed with an STD – be treated. It’s also important to inform your sexual partner(s) so that they can also be evaluated and treated.
The range of symptoms of STD’s include:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals, oral or rectal area
- Painful urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the trunk, hands or feet
It is possible to acquire STDs from individuals who may not even be aware that they have an STD, as symptoms can often go unnoticed, and may not even present themselves. Sexually transmitted infections can be caused by Bacteria (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia), Parasites (trichomoniasis) or Viruses (human papillomavirus, genital herpes, HIV).
The best way to prevent getting an STD is to not have any type of sexual activity, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. But you can take several steps to lower your risk for an STD if you decide to become sexually active, or are currently sexually active. These include:
- Any sexual relationship should be with only one uninfected partner.
- That partner should also not have any other partners.
- Use a latex condom the correct way every time you have sex. Or use a female polyurethane condom plus medicine that kills sperm (topical microbicide).
- Use sterile needles if you inject IV medicines.
- Prevent and control other STDs. This will lower your risk for human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Delay having sexual relationships as long as you can. The younger you are when you start having sex, the more likely you are to get an STD.
- Have regular checkups for HIV and STDs.
- Learn the symptoms of STDs and seek medical help as soon as possible if any symptoms develop.
- Don’t have sexual intercourse during your monthly period.
- Don’t have anal intercourse. Or use a latex condom and medicine that kills sperm.
- Don’t douche.
- Begin treatment right away. Take the full course of medicines, and follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
- Don’t breastfeed a baby or use breastmilk to feed a baby if you are HIV positive.
- Tell your local health department or all recent sexual partners and urge them to get medical checkups.
- Don’t have sexual activity while getting treatment for an STD.
- Have a follow-up test to be sure the STD has been successfully treated.
Common STDs are listed below.
Other diseases that may be sexually transmitted include:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Cytomegalovirus infections
- Granuloma inguinale (donovanosis)
- Lymphogranuloma venereum
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Pubic lice
- Vaginal yeast infections