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Sexually Transmitted Diseases are alternatively referred to as Venereal Diseases and Social Diseases. STDs are passed from person to person via intimate sexual contact. Intimate sexual contact includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and same sex sexual contact where body fluids are exchanged. Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases can be transferred through needle sharing, breastfeeding, and a pregnant woman carrying an STD can pass it to her child during birth. While many diseases can be spread through sexual contact, Sexually Transmitted Disease refers to diseases that are most likely to require sexual contact in order to be transferred to another person. For example, the common cold can be passed through intimate sexual contact because two people are exchanging germs during intimacy. The common cold is not considered an STD because there are various ways outside of sexual contact that a person can contract the common cold.

STD SYMPTOMS

Most Sexually Transmitted Diseases have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, making it entirely possible to spread an STD without being awareness of even having the disease. HIV, Bacterial Vaginosis, Hepatitis B, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease have no symptoms until later in the disease, and some may not ever show signs of their presence without testing. Over time symptoms may occur that alert men and women differently that they may be carrying an STD. Women may experience vaginal discharge that is thick, discolored, or carries an aroma, vaginal burning or itching, vaginal sores, weight loss, hair loss, a generally ill feeling like having the flu for extended periods of time, fatigue, lesions on the skin or mucous membranes, or unexplained rashes. Men may experience a penile discharge, inflammation of the penis or anus, sores, unexplained rashes, skin lesions, weight loss, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, pain or burning when urinating, and a general feeling of illness or flu symptoms for an extended period of time.
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Image: STD

STD CAUSES

Bacteria can cause some Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, urethritis, and Chancroid. Viruses are responsible for Sexually Transmitted Diseases which include Hepatitis B, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Herpes, some strains of genital warts, Molluscum, Human Papillomavirus, and Cytomegalovirus. Parasites can be blamed for pubic lice, which are commonly known as crabs, as well as scabies.

STD RISK FACTOR

Risk factors for contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease include unprotected sexual contact. The use of condoms, STD testing before entering a monogamous, unprotected sexual relationship, and abstaining from sexual activity are the only safeguards against social diseases. Women can pass Sexually Transmitted Diseases to unborn children either in the uterus or during childbirth. There are medications to help protect the fetus and the infant during birth.

STD DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of social disease is through a process which includes a physical examination, blood tests, vaginal and penile swabs, and lab analysis based on the patient’s complaints or sexual activity history. Many patients avoid seeing a doctor, especially women, based on their fear or discomfort with having a physical examination. Since most Sexually Transmitted Diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, sexual partners must be relied upon to tell all their sexual partners when they have been diagnosed with an STD. Because this is not a reliable form of diagnosis, many doctors run STD tests during annual examinations.

STD TREATMENT

Untreated Sexually Transmitted Diseases can lead to serious illness or death. HIV/AIDS can lead to death even with treatment. Sexually Transmitted Diseases can create difficulties during pregnancy or delivery, and can lead to permanent illness, psychological impairment, or sterility.


Bacterial based Sexually Transmitted Diseases can be treated with antibiotics while parasitic STDs are generally treated with permethrin shampoo. Viral Sexually Transmitted Diseases are typically treated with antiviral medication.

Self care and coping mechanisms which protect other people from contracting an STD are very important. Even if an STD is just suspected or exposure to an STD is known, the earlier treatment begins and is followed through the less chances there is for complications or spreading. Those who have been exposed to or are being treated for a Sexually Transmitted Disease should avoid sexual contact with others until a physician clears them. It is still possible to pass STDs to others even after the symptoms have cleared. Protected sexual intercourse or abstinence is the best weapon against the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
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