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What are the most common STIs?

Posted in Sexual Health 08 Jun, 2012

Sexually transmitted infections have the ability to develop and mutate over time, posing more significant risks to personal health. At the same time, these potential changes to the infections can also make them more difficult to treat effectively. This is particularly evident with the recent news that gonorrhoea is becoming resistant to antibiotics and as the second most common STI, the news rekindles the importance of practicing safe sex.

What are the most common STIs to look out for and how do you know if you have contracted an infection?

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United Kingdom and is caused by the obligate intracellular parasite chlamydia trachomatis. One of the difficulties regarding this infection is that symptoms can sometimes not present for extended periods of time, even years. Those symptoms that do arise can differ between men and women.

Male Symptoms

  • Pain during urination
  • Testicular pain
  • Rectal pain or discharge from the anus
  • Discharge from urethra or tip of the penis

Female Symptoms

  • Irritation inside or around the vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Discharge from the vagina
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

Treatments:

Both Azithromycin and Doxycycline are effective treatments for chlamydia. Fortunately, this STI can be cured relatively easily with either one of these medications, but it is better to seek diagnosis and treatment as early as possible to avoid further complications from the infection.

Gonorrhoea

As stated, gonorrhoea is the second most common STI. Currently, there are fears that the infection may soon become completely resistant even to recently developed medications. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae and it can be spread through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex. Like chlamydia, symptoms can remain dormant and only present themselves long after the initial infection. The symptoms of gonorrhoea also vary between the sexes.

Male Symptoms

  • Discharge from the urethra (varies in colour from yellow, white or green)
  • Pain during urination
  • Swelling and pain of the testicles

Female Symptoms

  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Pain during urination
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Discharge from the vagina

General symptoms that both men and women may experience include rectal bleeding, discharge, pain and painful bowel movements.

Treatments:

A combination of Azithromycin and Cefixime, two antibotics, can be used to treat gonorrhoea. Both these medications have been included inside OnlineClinic's Gonorrhoea Treatment Pack to help sufferers maximise the impact the treatments can have on the infection.

Syphilis

Syphilis has been one of the most prevalent STIs throughout history and is particularly notorious because of the neurological changes that are seen in the late stages of the infection. Generally it's believed that the infection has largely been controlled and is as such now very rare, but the STI still makes the list of most common sexually transmitted infections. Symptoms of syphilis can be broken down into three stages.

Primary Syphilis

  • Chancres, painless round spots, appear at the site of infection
  • These will heal on their own in 3-6 weeks
  • Generally they appear within 3 months of initial infection

Secondary Syphilis

  • Skin rash on the hands and feet
  • Genital ulcers
  • Flu-like symptoms

Tertiary Syphilis

  • Numbness
  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of muscle coordination

Treatments:

Syphilis treatment usually involves intravenously supplying or injecting directly into the muscle the medicine parenteral penicillin. If diagnosed early enough, the condition shouldn't be dangerous but the later stages can cause death if tertiary syphilis is allowed to develop.

If you believe that you have a contracted a sexually transmitted infection or if you're suffering from any of the above mentioned symptoms, the best advice is to always consult your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic. It may be embarrassing, but testing for STIs is a completely confidential process and finding treatment early can make all the difference in curing and managing an infection.

Keeping quiet and not seeking assistance will only make the situation worse and regularly checking your sexual health with your doctor will also ensure that you do not spread any contracted STIs. You should also always use a condom, the only form of protection against STIs, when having intercourse, as this is the only form of contraception that can prevent the spread of STIs.

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