Sexually transmitted diseases

As shown by official statistics for the past years, their morbidity increased across almost all countries of the world, infecting 5% of the population. However, nowadays, people assume that sexually transmitted diseases have virtually disappeared, that they are light and that patients may be cured by themselves or their acquaintances without seeing a medical specialist.

This concept is totally wrong. Although the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases is relatively simple, it should only be performed under the control and guidance of a dermatologist-venereologist in order to avoid complications that sometimes can be very serious.

More than 20 agents of sexually transmitted infections (STI) are known, which are promoting the development of:

  • classical venereal diseases, including: syphilis, gonorrhea, chancroid, granuloma venereum, inguinal lymphogranuloma;
  • STIs mainly affecting the genitals, which include: chlamydiosis, trichomoniasis, candidiasis, herpes infection and papilomavirus infection, ureaplasmosis, mycoplasmosis, bacterial vaginosis, molluscum contagiosum infection, shigellosis, pediculosis, and scabies;
  • STIs with a primary lesion of other organs, such as: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, cytomegalovirus infection, giardiasis, amoebiasis.
  • STIs are highly contagious, spreading relatively rapidly among the population and requiring special measures of social prevention.

    When left untreated, STIs are often the cause of pregnancy pathology, miscarriage, intrauterine infection, congenital abnormalities, infertility (in 55-85% of women and 20-40% of men) and represent a huge public health problem.

    In addition, STIs significantly (by 160 times or more) increase the risk of cervical cancer.

    Sexually transmitted diseases are currently considered epidemic.

    According to their agent, STIs can also be divided into:

    • bacterial infections: inguinal lymphogranuloma (donovanosis), chancroid, syphilis, granuloma venereum, chlamydiosis, gonorrhea, mycoplasmosis, ureaplasmosis;
    • viral infections: HIV, genital herpes infection, human papillomavirus infection, hepatitis B, cytomegalovirus (human herpesvirus type 5) infection, molluscum contagiosum infection, Kaposi’s sarcoma (herpes type 8);
    • protozoal infections: trichomoniasis;
    • fungal infections: candidiasis;
    • parasitic diseases: phthiriasis, scabies;

    Physicians are currently able to diagnose a large number of sexually transmitted diseases associated with chlamydiosis, ureaplasmosis, genital herpes infection, cytomegalovirus infection, which can pass away without symptoms. However, a larger number of sexually transmitted diseases make have patients complain of burning, itching and pathologic discharge, which determined them to visit the doctor.

    The progression of these diseases can lead to such other diseases as: endometritis, vesiculitis in men, adnexitis, prostatitis. Very often, STIs can cause infertility in both sexes.

    The most common STIs are:

    Syphilis — considered to be a classic sexually transmitted disease. Its pathogen agent is Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is characterized by slow progression. In later stages it can cause severe injuries to the nervous system and internal organs. The probability of infection after a single sexual contact with a syphilis patient is of about 30%. The symptoms are very diverse, varying depending on the stage of the disease. There are three stages of syphilis:

    • Primary syphilis occurs after an incubation period. In the place of the bacteria’s entry into the body (genitals, oral mucosa, or rectum) a painless ulcer with a dense base (chancre) occurs. After 1-2 weeks after the onset of ulcers, the nearby lymph nodes increase in size. The chancre heals in 3-6 weeks.
    • Secondary syphilis begins within 4-10 weeks after the onset of ulcers. It is characterized by a symmetrical pale rash all over the body, including the palms and soles. The appearance of the rash is often accompanied by headache, malaise, fever. The lymph nodes are swollen in the entire body. Secondary syphilis occurs in the form of alternating exacerbations and remissions (asymptomatic periods). The loss of hair on the head can be possible, as well as the appearance of flesh-colored growths on the genitals and the anus (condylomata lata).
    • Tertiary syphilis occurs in the absence of treatment, many years after the primary infection. It affects the nervous system (including the brain and the spinal cord), the bones and internal organs (including the heart, liver, etc.). About a quarter of patients die during this stage.

    The treatment of syphilis should be comprehensive and individualized. The basis of the treatment in syphilis is represented by antibiotics.

    Gonorrhea is also a classic sexually transmitted disease, whose pathogen agent is represented by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. This disease may affect the the urethra, rectum, throat, cervix and eyes. The probability of infection with gonorrhea via unprotected sex is of about 50%. The most common symptoms of gonorrhea in men are: yellowish or white discharge from the urethra, pain during urination, and in women: yellowish or white vaginal discharge, pain during urination, intermenstrual bleeding, and abdominal pain. In men, the most common complication is epididymitis and in women — the inflammatory disease of the uterus and of its adnexal structures, which are a major cause of infertility. In the propagation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to other organs the gonococcal infection can affect the joints, skin, brain, heart and liver.

    Granuloma venereum — its agent is Chlamydia trachomatis, serotypes L1-L3. The disease begins with a bubble usually on the genitals, which quickly disappears or can go unnoticed. After 1-4 weeks the regional lymph nodes increase in size, become condensed, painful. The skin over the nodes gets the color from pink to bluish-red. In time, the lymph nodes release yellowish pus. This disease can lead to severe complications, such as: anal, rectovaginal, urethral or scrotal fistulas, elephantiasis of the genitals, narrowing of the rectum or of the urethra.

    Chlamydiosis — is a very common sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. According to the statistics, about 100 million people get infected every year, and the total number of infected people with Chlamydia across the globe is up to one billion. More than 50% of them are asymptomatic, without any clinical signs and complaints. Thus, very often, sexual partners do not know that one might be dangerous for the other. Chlamydia eventually leads to very serious and often irreversible effects: cystitis, prostatitis, pyelonephritis, erectile dysfunctions, infertility, gynecological diseases of the uterus, cervix, and uterine appendages.

    Young couples planning to have children often face the problem of infertility in one of the partners. In Europe, about 600,000 cases of salpingitis are assessed as a consequence of chlamydiosis, which leads to the problem of infertility in the fourth part of them.

    Mycoplasmosis — is detected in 50-60% of patients with chronic diseases of the genitourinary system. Activation of asymptomatic mycoplasma is possible when the immunity’s function is decreased (in hypothermia, stress, etc., and most importantly — during pregnancy). Patients may complain of a yellow, white or transparent discharge from the urethra (in men) or from the vagina (in women). Sometimes there is pain, a burning sensation during urination, redness and itching at the external opening of the urethra. With the development of complications, the patients complain of pain in the perineum, scrotum, rectum, abdomen, in the lumbar region. In both men and women there may be pain during sexual intercourse.

    Human Papillomavirus Infection — is a very common sexually transmitted virus infection. During mass screening of HPV, almost 40-50% of sexually active men and women were found to have this virus. The chance of contracting HPV through sexual contact is up to 60-67%. The highest prevalence of HPV infection is found among women under the age of 30 years. When infected, most women (about 80%) are cured of HPV within 9-15 months after the infection without any treatment procedures. However, in a small part of infected women (about 0.5%) it can lead to precancer that can later evolve into cervical cancer.

    Cytomegalovirus infection — is a widespread sexually transmitted viral infection. Antibodies to cytomegalovirus are detected in 10-15% of adolescents. By the age of 35 years, these antibodies are detected in 50% of people. In people with normal immunity, cytomegalovirus is asymptomatic, without causing any harm in the vast majority of cases. In people with weakened immune system, CMV causes severe diseases (damage to the eyes, lungs, digestive system and brain), which can lead to death. No current treatment can completely eliminate the virus.

    Above are just some of the many STIs that are known today. They are all different in clinical manifestations, but have a common characteristic: their way of transmission is sexual and the majority of them can be prevented through protected sex (with condoms or other barrier contraception methods).

    It is no secret that everyone wants to live a full life, to be healthy and beautiful, and always look young. This happens when people constantly monitor their health, lead a healthy lifestyle, but as soon as they break down, harmful problems appear immediately and sometimes they can lead to irreversible processes. One such reason may be illegible sexual relationships that end with dangerous and painful diseases.

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