What is

It is a group of diseases contracted through the sexual act, without protection (condom), where there is an exchange of fluids from Organs genitals. They can be of viral, bacterial or parasitic origin.

Among the most common are AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, HPV and chlamydia. They are associated with frequent exchange of partners, but healthy couples can also have STDs like candidiasis.

Considered a public health problem and with complex treatment, these diseases can cause serious complications such as sterility, abortion, physical and mental disabilities. 

Diagnosis

Blood tests are carried out to identify the presence of bacteria, viruses or parasites, which can be repeated to confirm the diagnosis. Medical evaluation to identify some symptoms may also indicate the presence of these agents.   

Risk factors

The biggest risk factor is promiscuous unprotected sexual contact, which is characterized by people who have had more than four partners in the past year and have not used a condom.

Contaminated pregnant women are also at risk of transmitting the disease to the fetus. For some of them, such as AIDS, it is possible to receive a cocktail that inhibits the infection of the fetus with the virus, in addition to undergoing cesarean delivery to avoid contact with contaminated blood.

Prevention

The most effective and safest way to prevent STDs is the use of condoms. There are female and male models on the market that, if used correctly and throughout the sexual act, can ensure non-contamination. For those who believe they have contracted the virus, it is also possible to consume a cocktail within 72 hours after exposure. 

It is important to remember that 97% of young people claim to know the use of condoms in the prevention of AIDS and other STDs, according to the Ministry of Health, but only 61% of them used protection in the first sexual intercourse, being exposed to all viruses, bacteria and parasites. Other methods used to prevent unwanted pregnancies like the birth control pill are not effective in preventing diseases.

Some diseases can also be prevented through vaccines, such as HPV, which is responsible for much of genital warts and cervical cancer. In this case, for greater efficiency, vaccination should occur in young girls, who have not started sex.   

Symptoms

STDs can present different symptoms due to their wide variety of pathological actors. See the symptoms that can characterize some of them:

  • Gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis: discharge (white, grey or yellowish), itching, pain when urinating, pain during sex and strong odour.
  • Gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, mycoplasma and ureaplasma: discharge (yellowish or clear), strong odour, itching and pain when urinating.
  • Syphilis, soft cancer, genital herpes, donovanosis, lymphogranuloma venereum: sores in the genital region that can cause pain, blisters and sometimes the water in the groin.
  • Gonorrhoea, chlamydia and infection by other bacteria: pain below the belly and during sexual intercourse.
  • HPV: genital warts.

Treatment

Due to the diversity of diseases and symptoms, treatments are very diverse. Some are just controlled and have no cure.

In general, medical indications include antibiotics taken orally and tests to monitor the progress of the disease.

Common questions

I have had few partners in the past year. Am I at risk of contracting an STD?

Contamination by STDs is not only linked to the number of partners, but to the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. However, it is taken into account that the more sexual partners, the greater the chances of having an unprotected relationship.

Is there a vaccine for STD prevention?

For most, the best method is still using condoms, but some STDs already have vaccines that increase protection, such as HPV. It is available in the public health system for young people aged 9 to 13 years and for greater efficiency in protection, it must be applied before the beginning of sexual life.

Can I use the birth control pill as a prevention method?

The contraceptive pill is preventive-only in the sense of pregnancy. It prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg and is not effective against any STD.

I stopped using condoms during sex only once. Am I at risk?

Yes. If your partner is infected with an STD, only one unprotected relationship is needed to contract the disease.

Does STD have a cure?

Due to the wide variety of contaminating agents, treatments are very diverse. Some can be treated with penicillin and other antibiotics, but STDs like AIDS and HPV have no cure and are only controllable with medication and medical monitoring. 

Does oral sex have a lower risk of contamination than penetrative sex?

Each disease has a different risk of contamination, but all can be transmitted through mucous membranes, either in the genital area or in the mouth. The only way to reduce the risks is by using a condom.

How do I know if I have an STD?

The symptoms of some STDs can take weeks or even years to start appearing in the body. The best way to discover and confirm the diagnosis is to consult a doctor after having unprotected sex. This guarantees a treatment with greater chances of success.