What are Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
STDs can affect anybody within the sphere of sexual population; hence it can be said that all STDs are global problems. Some of the very common STDs that are affecting the world population today are syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, Chlamydia infection, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and AIDS.
STDs are mainly transmitted due to penetrative sexual intercourse, i.e. when the man inserts his penis into the vagina of the female. But most of the STDs can also pass on during other types of sexual activities like oral sex and anal sex. The microorganisms causing these diseases could be viruses, bacteria or fungi and they can generally live in most of the body fluids.
The chances of sexually transmitted diseases are very high when a person has sex with many partners, or has sex with a person who has many partners.
Since there are many STDs, there are also many symptoms. Syphilis, which is also known as the French disease is diagnosable by the presence of button-sized warts called chancres near the genital area. These chancres could also develop on the anus and in the throat region. Gonorrhea is commonly known as the clap or the drip disease. With a gonorrheal infection, a person will have continuous mucus-like discharge from the penis or from the vulva. In people with genital herpes, there are blister-like ulcers developed around the genitals. With almost all STDs, there are urinary problems.
Prevention of STDs is mostly through abstinence. Out of all the sexually transmitted diseases in humans, only two of them hepatitis A and hepatitis B are preventable by vaccination, but the others are not. The best way of preventing them is then to limit the number of sexual partners, and to have sex only with people whose sexual history is properly known about. Using a condom is also a good option, but if the condom is used in the wrong way, then it may lead to an infection. Also, condoms are not guaranteed protection. Condoms can only prevent the penis from coming in touch with the skin of the other partner; but it cannot prevent the rest of the genital area from coming into contact. Syphilis sores which are present all around the genital area can be transmitted even after using a condom.
Once a person is sexually infected, it is very necessary that he/she stop all sexual activity. It is a moral responsibility of any person to check the further spread of the STD. Also the person must make it amply clear to his/her spouse that he/she is a victim of the infection. All STDs except AIDS are treatable and the treatment is much more effective if it is started at an early stage.
Treatment of STDs adopts several different ways depending on which is the cause of infection. In conditions like genital herpes, where there is no cure, the infection may last throughout the life of the person. Alarmingly, this disease is found among about half a million in the US alone. Chlamydia is another issue that requires constant screening to prevent from becoming an epidemic. Doctors surreptitiously check teens for such infections. Conditions like hepatitis A and hepatitis B are thought to be self-resolving with little medication.
One bigger concern with the sexually transmitted diseases is the large number of complications they can cause. Most of the STDs can cause impotence in men and infertility in women. Men could suffer from erectile dysfunctions, while both men and women can suffer from pain during urination and/or several abnormalities in the flow or urine. Add to that, there could be severe itching, pain, tenderness and blisters on the affected area. This could indeed make life miserable for the person as long as the STD lasts.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can cause severe liver problems in the long run. There could be cirrhosis of the liver, or liver cancer, both of which are fatal conditions. AIDS is the most dangerous of all sexual infections. It has no treatment yet, and the only option with this disease is death.
Sexually transmitted diseases are found more commonly among the sexually teen population of the developed countries. This population is generally ignorant about the repercussions of unsafe sex, and therefore indulges in it till it is too late. With age comes experience, and hence STDs are found to a lesser extent in the older population. Tourists are responsible for carrying STDs from one part of the globe to the other, and so also people who visit commercial sex workers are very much accountable.
Only proper education can control the problem of STDs. Governments of various nations are taking serious steps in eradicating the problem. School syllabi contain references of such diseases, and condoms are being freely distributed by charitable institutions to vulnerable populations.