Common STIs, Symptoms, and Treatments
Knowing the range, signs, and treatments of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is key in being able to fight their effects and their spread.
Chlamydia Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Chlamydia is a common STI which is caused by bacteria. It affects mostly younger, sexually active women, but can also affect men. Chlamydia can be contracted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Symptoms include
- Painful urination
- Vaginal discharge in women
- Painful intercourse for women
- Vaginal bleeding between periods/after sex
- Discharge from the penis in men
- Testicular pain in men
However, chlamydia can also have no signs or symptoms at all, and will be revealed only by a test: “a large number of cases are not reported because most people with chlamydia are asymptomatic and do not seek testing.” This makes it especially important for women who are sexually active to be tested, particularly before they engage in intercourse with a new partner. This allows the bacteria to be treated, and avoids its spread to others.
Chlamydial infection can lead to grave conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain and infections in newborns.
The good news is, chlamydia can be treated easily with antibiotics. If an STI test indicates the presence of a chlamydia infection, women will be referred to their health care provider to receive treatment.
Gonorrhea Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection which is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Babies of infected mothers can also be affected, principally their eyes.
In many cases, an infection of gonorrhea causes no symptoms. However, it can be responsible for the following symptoms in women:
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain in urination
- Bleeding in between periods, especially after intercourse
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
If the infection reaches other parts of the body, it can cause additional symptoms. But we would emphasize that there may be no symptoms of your having contracted gonorrhea – making regular and strategic testing vitally important.
Left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility, complications in birth, and an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Adults with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea are emerging, which may make it more difficult to treat in the future.
Genital Herpes Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Herpes is a very common STD caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). After the infection has taken hold, it lies dormant but can flare up several times a year. At this time, there is no cure for herpes, though the symptoms can be managed. Symptoms include sores, scabs, ulcers, pain, and itching in your genital area. Whether you have symptoms or not, realize that if you are infected, you are still contagious whether you engage in vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Herpes must be tested for through a blood sample, PCR test, or viral culture. Please note that we are not able to provide this testing method at PRCs at this time. Contact your gynecologist or regular doctor so you can verify the presence or absence of the virus.
Syphilis Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Syphilis is a bacterial infection spread through skin or mucous membrane contact with one of the sores of an infected person, most commonly through sexual activity. Syphilis can also be spread from mothers to unborn children. The disease goes through three stages (with some potential complications) if left untreated, and can be life-threatening. It is contagious in the first two phases, and sometimes in the early latent stage.
The Stages of Syphilis
- Primary – About three weeks following infection, a small sore called a chancre appears at the spot where the bacteria entered the body. This sore is usually painless and may go unnoticed if it is hidden on or in the body, but it is the means through which the disease can spread to others. This sore will heal on its own after 3-6 weeks, which may lead those infected to think that the problem has resolved itself, but that is not the case.
- Secondary – A rash may develop which covers the body, along with wart like sores in your mouth or genitals. Other symptoms may develop, which can go away after a few weeks or last for months.
- Latent – If you aren’t treated by the time the disease enters this phase, the disease becomes dormant and may remain that way for years. At this point, symptoms may never return (though the disease is not gone), or the disease may proceed to the tertiary phase.
- Tertiary – Approximately 15-30% of those who have contracted syphilis will enter this phase of the disease, potentially years after the initial infection. In this stage, syphilis may damage your eyes, bones, heart, and more.
At any stage, syphilis may spread and infect your brain or eyes. Syphilis is a very serious condition and needs to be treated as soon as possible. Even though you may not be experiencing symptoms, the disease can be active nevertheless. In most cases – especially in its early stages – syphilis can be treated with a course of an antibiotic such as penicillin. If you think that you may have syphilis, arrange for an STI test with your doctor.
Trichomoniasis Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Also called trich, trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite which travels between people during sex. There is an incubation period from 4 days to 4 weeks between exposure and infection. In the time immediately after the infection, most people don’t show symptoms. Women who do begin to show symptoms may display:
- A foul-smelling discharged colored white, gray, yellow, or green
- Genital redness, itching, or burning
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sex
Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, if you believe you have trich you should be tested. Treatment is available, and involves taking an anti-parasitic regimen. We encourage you to speak with one of our staff and with your regular doctor to learn more.
Hepatitis Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
Hepatitis A, B, and C viruses each affect the liver. Because they behave differently, treatment and inoculation for each of these infections vary in their availability and effectiveness.
HIV/AIDS Contraction, Symptoms, and Treatment
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a viral STI which attacks your immune system. If left untreated with antivirals, it will develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
If you have any questions and would like to learn more, or to arrange a free STD test for chlamydia and gonorrhea, call the staff at our SE Portland or Beaverton PRC.