Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are those that are spread from one person to another during vaginal, anal or oral sex through the exchange of fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid or blood. In fact, some of them, such as herpes or human papillomavirus (HPV), are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
These infections are usually caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites and are typically treated like other diseases with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, they can have serious health repercussions.
Don’t forget that! The initiation of sexual life not only implies deciding about one’s own body and physical contact as such, it also implies responsibilities regarding sexual and reproductive health and the prevention of sexually transmissible infections and unintended pregnancies.
Symptoms and diagnosis of sexually transmissible infections
Sometimes sexually transmissible infections may have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, so diagnosis requires consultation with a health professional, who may do so through a physical examination, microscopic examination or blood test.
Some of the most frequent symptoms of this type of infection are:
– Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina.
– Sores or warts in the genital area.
– Frequent or painful urination.
– Itching and redness in the genital area.
– Blisters or sores in or around the mouth.
– Unusual vaginal odor.
– Anal itching, pain or bleeding.
– Abdominal pain.
If you think you are at risk of contracting any of these infections, it is imperative you seek the advice of a health professional for a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
What are sexually transmissible infections?
There are more than 20 types of sexually transmitted infections, and the most common of these being:
- Chlamydia. It is caused by a bacterial infection, usually has no symptoms and is easily treated.
- Shingles. It is a common sexual infection that infects the genitals and mouth and causes sores or blisters. There is no cure, but symptoms can be treated.
- Gonorrhea. It is caused by a bacterial infection and can infect either the genital tract, mouth or anus. It usually causes no symptoms and is easily treated.
- HIV/AIDS. It is an infection that destroys the immune system. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can keep you healthy.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It is a common sexual disease that is generally harmless, but in some cases can lead to cancer.
- Hepatitis B. It is caused by a virus that can cause liver disease and is transmitted through sexual contact or by sharing personal hygiene items.
- Genital warts. It is characterized by the formation of lumps on the skin of the genital area and around the anus. They can be caused by certain types of HPV.
- Syphilis. It is a bacterial infection that is easily treated, but can become dangerous if left untreated.
- Trichomoniasis. It is one of the main causes of vaginitis. It usually has no symptoms and is easily treated.
Each of them can cause major damage to your overall health, so it is important that you use protective methods that allow you to have safe sex without the risk of contracting an STI.
Practice safe sex
The best way to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections is to use preventive methods during sexual intercourse. One of the most effective methods is the condom, since it is a barrier protection method, preventing the exchange of fluids and skin-to-skin contact, which is the means of transmission of these diseases. Don’t forget there are both male and female condoms.
Getting tested regularly, even if you have no symptoms, also helps you to be sure that you are not suffering from one of these infections and, if you are diagnosed with one, you will be able to start treatment in a timely manner. Take responsibility for your sexual and reproductive health!
In the #YoDigoNoMas Movement we share information and tools for you to learn to assume responsibility for your sexual and reproductive health, and know how to take care of yourself to prevent sexually transmissible infections.
Also, we remind you that we have created a safe and trusted space for survivors of sexual abuse. If you feel you are a victim of this scourge or if someone around you is suffering from it, we invite you to learn more about the Movement, join our cause or, if you think you are ready, to share your story.