15:49 10th February 2020 | Sexually Transmitted Diseases
It’s not a very talked-about issue but is more common than you think, especially among young people. We’re talking about STIs.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections acquired by sexual contact. Organisms that cause STIs include viruses, bacteria and parasites. They pass from person to person through infected semen, vaginal fluid, blood or other bodily fluids. In some cases, some infections are transmitted non-sexually, e.g, mother to child in pregnancy or during childbirth, blood transfusions or shared needles.
It is possible to have contracted an STI from a partner and not know. The person may appear perfectly healthy, but may not know s/he has an infection because STIs don’t always cause symptoms. Some STIs do cause symptoms, but not all, which is why they may go unnoticed until problems occur, or if a partner is diagnosed with an STI.
Some of the signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:
• Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
• Painful or burning urination
• Discharge from the penis
• Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
• Unusual vaginal bleeding
• Pain during sex
• Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
• Lower abdominal pain
• A rash over the trunk, hands or feet
Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure, or it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism.
STIs include gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and HIV.
Because many people in the early stages of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI) experience no symptoms, screening for STIs is important in preventing complications.
STIs can cause complications such as pelvic pain, pregnancy complications, arthritis, PID, heart disease, certain cancers and infertility. It is most commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex. But babies of infected mothers can be infected during childbirth. In babies, gonorrhoea most commonly affects the eyes.
Untreated gonorrhoea can lead to major complications. In women, it can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease. In men, it can cause epididymitis, an inflammation of a coiled tube in the rear portion of the testicles. It can also increase the risk of having HIV and even complications in newborn babies (if the pregnant mother is infected)
Chlamydia infections too, even those that produce no signs or symptoms can cause scarring and obstruction in the fallopian tubes, which can make women infertile. How do you protect yourself from getting an STI? Read on…
• Abstain! Don't have sex if you're not ready, and if you must, use a condom every time. Note that condoms are not 100% effective at preventing disease or pregnancy. However, they are extremely effective if used properly. Learn how to use condoms correctly.
• Stay with one uninfected partner. Long-term monogamous relationships are a reliable way of avoiding STIs.
• Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to prevent HPV, Hep A and Hep B.
• Avoid sharing towels or underclothing.
If you are young, reading this, and you think you have an STI, do not jeopardize your fertility and health by keeping silent about it. You don’t want a “fling” or a “YOLO moment” to be the reason you can never have kids, or struggle to have kids, talk less of the other health complications that abound. Some STIs cause irreversible damage to the reproductive organs, so we encourage you to seek medical help immediately.
Visit our partner primary healthcare centre, Medicentre at Isolo, Ikeja, Ikotun and Victoria Island to access care.
Also, you are welcome to our bi-monthly Welcome Forum where we will be discussing this topic among other pressing issues regarding fertility challenges and solutions.
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