STI (Sexually transmitted infections) are infections that you can get from having sexual contact with someone who has the infection. STI are often present without symptoms and go unnoticed. Some of these conditions have serious consequences. In other words, they do more harm to the body than they appear to.
For instance, some of the most commonly found STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus), pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. However, these are preventable causes of infertility. Let us consider how gonorrhea and chlamydia impair the reproductive system causing fertility.
STI are caused by bacteria, viruses & parasites. Those caused by bacteria & parasites can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms in women include:
- Vaginal pain or burning
- Change in texture or color of vaginal discharge
- Irregular bleeding
- Burning feeling while urinating
- Pelvic pain (in advanced stages)
If there is pelvic pain, it could indicate that the infection has spread to the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. Women with STIs are at a higher risk of tubal damage & infertility than women without any infection. These infections can cause permanent damage to the reproductive organs, if left untreated.
Symptoms in men include:
- Mild burning during urination
- Grey/yellow penile discharge
- Testicular pain
The above symptoms may resolve even if medication is not taken, however the infection remains.
Most STDs affect both men & women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If pregnant female has STD it can cause serious health problems for the baby.
The most effective way to prevent any kind of STIs is to abstain from sexual intercourse and avoid having multiple sexual partners. Barrier methods (latex condom) of contraception are also very effective against the spread of these infections.
Proper diagnosis & treatment is extremely essential because infections can be transmitted from mother-to-child during pregnancy resulting in:
- Amniotic infections
- Congenital disease
- Neonatal death
- Neonatal conjunctivitis
- Low birth weight
Most STIs are treated easily with a dosage of antibiotics. Early detection and treatment of infections are important.