Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are usually spread through vaginal, oral sex or anal sex. If we take a glance at the data of STIs or STDs, nearly 9 million women in the United States are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease each year. Women are prone to more serious health problems from STIs than men including infertility.
What is a sexually transmitted disease?
A sexually transmitted disease is an infection that is usually spread from person to person through sexual contact. This disease occurs when a bacteria, virus or parasite enters the body from one person to another through blood, semen, vagina and other bodily fluids. Most likely, sexually transmitted diseases can be caused by having unprotected sex, having group sex or having sex with different partners.
Sometimes STI can happen without sexual contacts, such as passing infection from mothers to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, or through the use of a single needle or blood transfusion.
Some STIs can be cured and some STIs such as HIV, hepatitis, human papillomavirus, or cytomegalovirus cannot be cured. For those STIs that cannot be cured, medicines are available to control their symptoms.
The most common STIs in women
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Chlamydia Genital herpes
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common type of STI in women. In fact, it is the main cause of cervical cancer. While gonorrhoea and chlamydia are common bacterial STIs. Genital herpes is also detected in 1 in 6 women between the age of 14 and 49 years.
Symptoms of STIs and STDs in Women
Women should be aware of all the symptoms of STIs so that they can get tested and cured on time. Some symptoms can be seen in women when they have an STD, such as –
- Itching in the vagina
- Having abnormal discharge
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination or bleeding during urination.
Other Symptoms of STIs and STDs in Women
Changed Colour of Vaginal Discharge
It is normal to have a white discharge from the vagina. But when it is too thick or too white, there may be a yeast infection. But if it is yellow or green in colour, then it can be a sign of gonorrhoea or trichomonas.
Itching in the Vagina
Itching in the vagina can happen due to many reasons. It is important to get a check-up done in case of excessive itching as it can also be a symptom of STI.
Pain during sex
It is normal to have pain during sex. But sometimes it can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is usually an advanced stage of chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
Abnormal bleeding can also occur due to several fertility problems caused due to PID or STIs.
Vaginal rashes or sores
Sores or small rash around the vagina or on the mouth can be a sign of genital herpes, human papillomavirus or syphilis.
Many sexual infections or diseases do not show any symptoms. In such a situation, if they are not treated on time, the risk of infertility related problems and cervical cancer can increase. Not only this, sometimes sexually transmitted infections can also be spread through contact with people who appear healthy and are unaware that they have an STI.
How to Avoid Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STIs or STDs)?
If you are sexually active then you should have a Pap Smear Test and talk to your doctor for STI related tests. Some other tips are as follows:
Whenever you have vaginal, oral or anal sex, use a condom.
You should openly tell your partner and doctor about your sexual history.
Do not have sex if you see or suspect STI symptoms
Usually, sexually transmitted diseases and infections cause serious health problems for women than men. But if you involve in sex with safety like using condoms, the chances of STD infection will be very least. Also, by getting checked up from time to time, you can not only avoid venereal diseases but can also get them diagnosed on time because the symptoms of many venereal diseases and infections are not visible.
Dr Andy Emma