SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs)
In addition to HIV, there are other infections that can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. These can cause discomfort, decrease sexual pleasure, and indirectly facilitate the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
If you contract any of these infections, you might notice symptoms such as an unusual discharge of yellow, green, or grayish color from your genitals. Burning, itching, or pain in your genitals or anus, or finding sores (like blisters or ulcers) in these areas, are also signs.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical advice to receive the appropriate treatment for the infection. This will also prevent long-term issues like infertility, internal organ damage, or certain types of cancer.
TYPES OF INFECTIONS
This is an infection caused by bacteria. It’s transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sexual contact, and can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
The first sign is a painless ulcer that can go unnoticed on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. This ulcer goes away on its own, but after a few weeks, the infection reactivates, causing rashes and lesions on the skin, genitals, mouth, palms, and soles.
If you notice any of these changes in your body, seek medical advice, as syphilis is easily treatable.
This infection is caused by a virus transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sexual contact, and also by kissing individuals with active lesions.
It causes painful sores in the mouth, genitals, or anal area, which can ulcerate and burn.
The sores might go away on their own, but the virus remains in the body and can reactivate throughout life.
There is no cure, but treatment helps reduce discomfort, shorten outbreak durations, and decrease the risk of reactivation.
The bacteria causing it can be transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex. Warning signs include: burning during urination, penile discharge or abnormal vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, anal and rectal discharge and pain, or a sore throat.
This infection can be cured with the right treatment. However, if untreated, it might spread and infect the testicles or uterus, leading to infertility.
This bacterial infection is very common and is transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex. Many cases are asymptomatic, but it can sometimes show symptoms similar to gonorrhea, albeit milder: burning during urination, discharge from the penis or vagina, pain during intercourse, anal and rectal discharge and pain, or a sore throat.
With the necessary treatment, chlamydia is entirely curable. If untreated, it can spread to the testicles or uterus, leading to infertility.
The hepatitis viruses affect the liver and can be transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex (hepatitis B), as well as mouth-to-anus contact (hepatitis A), or sharing needles for injectable drug use (hepatitis C).
Many cases are asymptomatic, but over half of the people who contract it experience general malaise, nausea, vomiting, and pain under the ribs, along with yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, and pale stools. This is known as the acute phase.
The acute phase of hepatitis doesn’t require treatment but must be monitored to ensure it doesn’t become chronic, as this can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer over time.
Chronic hepatitis B or C can be treated.
This virus is transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex, and also by direct contact with skin lesions (warts).
There are over 100 types of HPV, classified mainly into:
- High risk: usually asymptomatic, but can cause cervical, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat cancers over time.
- Low risk: commonly cause warts (condylomas) on the penis, vulva, vagina, anus, or mouth.
Although there isn’t a specific cure, HPV-caused lesions can be effectively treated and removed.
A vaccine is currently available that protects against the most common types of HPV.
This is a virus that can be transmitted through anal and vaginal sexual contact and direct skin contact. It’s called “molluscum” because the lesions it causes are pearl-like with a central hole. They are commonly found on the pubis, groin, penis, and vulva, but can spread to other skin areas due to scratching.
The lesions caused by this virus can be effectively treated and removed.