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Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Spanish Version

Sexually transmitted diseases or STD’s are infections that can be transmitted through sexual  contact via semen, blood  and vaginal fluids. You have to have a sexual relationship with someone previously infected to be able to get infected.

How many STD’s are there? There are many, but the more common ones are:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • HIV
  • Herpes
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Trichomona vaginalis
  • Gardnerella vaginalis
  • Hepatitis B

What are the risk factors for an STD? There are several risk factors that can contribute to the suspicion of an STD such as unprotected sex (vaginal, anal and oral), using recreational drugs or abusing alcohol, starting sexual activity at a young age, having multiple sexual partners, having another STD, and meeting unknown persons for casual sex in any of its forms, just to name a few.

What are the symptoms of an STD? Symptoms can be variable from very mild ones to some really frank symptoms. These include painful urination, abnormal penile or vaginal secretion, vaginal bleeding, sores in the genital area, fever, fatigue, painful sexual intercourse, pelvic pain, testicular swelling and pain, among others. Sometimes at the beginning there can be no symptoms.

Are STD’s curable? Some of them are, and some others are not. The curable ones include Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomona and Gardnerella. HIV, herpes, and HPV are treatable but there is no cure for them yet. Hepatitis B can occasionally resolve on its own but most often it can lead to liver cancer or chronic hepatitis. Although hepatitis C is not an STD, there is a relative risk of infection through sexual contact.

Can there be long term damage if an STD is not treated? Yes, if left untreated an STD can lead to infertility in both sexes, chronic pain, cancer, brain, heart and eye problems. Some STD’s have very serious complications that can lead to death; such is the case with HIV and progression to AIDS.

What can I do to avoid getting infected? Remember that people with STD’s many times appear to be completely healthy, therefore always have protected sex, avoid getting yourself into risky situations that can compromise your health (excessive drinking or drug use), avoid having multiple sexual partners, stay with one partner who you know is not infected and be exclusive to each other, get tested before starting a sexual relationship with someone, and avoid casual sex.

What should I do if I have any of these symptoms or suspect that I have an STD? Go to your doctor immediately, and get tested. If you are positive for an STD you can be cured or treated depending on the STD.

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