All you need to know about common STIs

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Every person can be affected with sexually transmitted diseases. Play your part and learn all there is to know about them so you can stay safe and healthy.

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“Practicing safer sex and STI prevention are important practices for anyone who is sexually active. Safer sex means learning and practicing behaviors that decrease the chance of contracting or transmitting a disease or having an unplanned pregnancy. Educate yourself- Prevention is possible only if one understands STIs and how they are spread. To practice safe sex means using condoms, latex gloves and dental dams for oral sex,” Whitney Chinogwenya, Marie Stopes spokesperson.

Chlamydia

It may be difficult to detect in the early stage because it often shows few or no symptoms at all. When the symptoms do appear it is usually is often after 3 weeks of being exposed to Chlamydia:

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse in women
  • Bleeding between periods in women

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of your genital tract. It can also grow in your mouth, throat, eyes and anus. The first gonorrhea symptoms generally appear within 10 days after exposure.

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea may include:

  • Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the vagina
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Anal itching

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism spreads during sexual intercourse with someone who already has the infection. When trichomoniasis causes symptoms, they may appear within five to 28 days of exposure and range from mild irritation to severe inflammation.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Strong vaginal odor
  • Vaginal itching or irritation
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination

Genital Herpes

This is highly contagious, and is caused by a type of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that enters your body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes. Most people with HSV never know they have it, because they have no signs or symptoms or the signs and symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Small red bumps, blisters (vesicles) or open sores (ulcers) in the genital, anal and nearby areas
  • Pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks and inner thighs

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection

HPV infection is one of the most common types of STIs. Some forms put women at high risk of cervical cancer. Other forms cause genital warts. HPV usually has no signs or symptoms.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Small, flesh-colored or gray swellings in your genital area
  • Several warts close together that take on a cauliflower shape
  • Itching or discomfort in your genital area
  • Bleeding with intercourse

Treatment:

According to Chinogwenya, “Treatment for STIs varies and may include medication and practicing safe sex to avoid spreading the disease to others. STIs caused by bacteria are generally easier to treat but viral infections can be managed but not always cured. Treatment usually consists of either antibiotics or antiviral drug. If you think you are at risk of an STI, please visit your local clinic or general practitioner or your closest Marie Stopes Centre as soon as possible for testing. The sooner you start treatment, the more effective it is. Once you start treatment — if you take your medications exactly as directed — it's possible to lower your virus count to nearly undetectable levels.”

So always use a condom. You can visit your doctor if you feel you have any of the symptoms so you can be treated.

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