Sexually transmitted diseases may not be the most glamorous topic in the world to discuss. However, there is good reason to discuss them. Over a million people every day acquire some kind of sexually transmitted disease. This totals an estimated 357 million infections per year worldwide, ranging from the humble thrush to the life-threatening HIV. Many of the common infections are not dangerous, but can have adverse effects if left untreated. Unfortunately, a lot of these STIs do not provide the sufferer with symptoms, so it can often be hard to tell if you have an infection or not. Take a look at the list below of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, and how you can prevent and cure them.
HPV stands for the Human Papillomavirus. It is the most common STI in the world, with nearly every sexually active adult contracting the virus at some point. There are many different types of HPV -it is a ‘family’ of viruses which differ in severity. They are categorized into ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk’ strains. A low risk strain could result in the individual contracting genital warts, which is one of the ways in which a HPV virus can manifest itself in the carrier. At the other end of the scale, some strains of HPV can result in cervical cancer. Therefore, it is recommended that all young girls are vaccinated against the virus. In total, there are around 100 types of HPV, with 40 of them concerning the genital area. That is not to say though that you can prevent against HPV just by using a condom during sex. HPV can be passed from person to person from skin to skin contact and oral sex as well as vaginal and anal sex. It can be symptomless, or carriers may experience symptoms long after contracting the virus. This can happen when they are stressed or otherwise unwell. So, if a man breaks out with genital warts, it does not mean he has cheated on his partner – he could have contracted HPV years ago. You can check whether or not you have the HPV virus by undergoing cell testing. Unfortunately, the virus does not show up on blood tests, making it even harder to detect. Genital warts (the most common sexual symptom of the HPV virus) can be treated easily with medication or cream. However, it is advised that you use a condom during sex for three months after your treatment finished to minimize the risk of giving your partner HPV.
One of the most common STI’s in the world, chlamydia is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact. It can also be spread through coming into contact with infected sexual fluids. Similarly to HPV, it is essentially symptomless. However, occasional symptoms include pain when urinating, abdominal pain and bleeding between periods. For men, pain and swelling in the testicles is an occasional symptom. Chlamydia is most common in the under 25s, with 7/10 people diagnosed matching this age bracket. Thankfully, if caught early, chlamydia is pretty harmless. Treatment is a simple course of antibiotics and you should avoid having sex again until your treatment is over. You can also access chlamydia treatment online these days. If not caught early on, however, chlamydia can become serious. The infection can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in things such as pelvic inflammatory disease and can even lead to infertility. In rare cases, it can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her baby. The easiest way to avoid catching chlamydia is to use protection during sex. Condoms for both men and women are available now and ensure you have regular STI tests at your local clinic, especially if you change partners a lot.
Herpes is another extremely common STI. Studies have found that one in six 14-19 year olds in the US have had the herpes virus at some point. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus – the same virus that causes cold sores. It is different to both HPV and Chlamydia in the sense that it has very obvious symptoms, and it is also a chronic disorder. This means that the person will have it for the rest of their life, as no cure is currently available. It can be controlled with antiviral medications, and as time goes on outbreaks will tend to become both less frequent and less severe. Herpes is spread by sexual contact and results in painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. If you choose not to have the treatment, the blisters should scab and clear up by themselves in around 20 days time. However, you may get another outbreak in up to five years time.