Sexual infection is also known as STI/STD and can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. It is important for individuals to know the facts of STI and how to access screening to exclude any risks of STI. Once STI is contracted it is also important to know how to receive treatment and how to prevent the disease.
The main sexually transmitted infections are as follows: chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, tricamonus, vaginalis, gardnerella, herpes simplex I/II. Other infections could be hepatitis, syphilis and HIV. The most common infections in the United Kingdom are chlamydia and gonorrhea. The prevalence is highest in young sexually active adults, particularly women between 16 and 24 and men between 18 and 29. As most people are asymptomatic, a large proportion of patients remain undiagnosed.
Untreated genital chlamydia infection may have serious long-term consequences especially in women in whom it is a well-established cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Mycoplasma genitalium is established clinically as a sexually transmitted infection and continues to generate interest. Similarly ureaplasma urealyticum is indentified as another non-gonococcal non-chlamydia urethritis causing urethral discharge, urinary symptoms, dysuria or pain in passing urine.
The next important infection is tryicamonus vaginalis which causes offensive vaginal discharge associated with vulval itching, burning, redness and swelling. Another main infection is called bacterial vaginosis (BV) formally known as non-specific vaginitis. It is the most common cause of vaginitis and is characterised by an increase in vaginal discharge and over growth of certain bacteria including a bacteria called gardnerella vaginalis. This infection is not considered an STI but sexual activity has been linked to the development of this infection. Herpes simplex virus I and II exist.
Type I is called HSV I and Type II is HSV II. Both are closely related but they each cause infection in different areas. HSV I is transmitted chiefly by contact with infected saliva whereas HSV II is transmitted sexually or from a mother’s genital tract infection to the newborn. Clinical diagnosis is sometimes difficult as patients do not always present with lesions. Cultures from the sore area is very helpful if the patient presents early enough, but viral shedding only lasts for a few days and often the signs have crusted or disappeared by the time the patient is seen. Therefore performing a test called PCR is more important than doing a culture in such cases where active lesions are not present.
Women who have unprotected sex and who have never been tested for any such infection should consider being tested for STI as a number of these infections could be symptom free. Late diagnosis can cause difficulty in treatment and as previously mentioned can have serious consequences regarding fertility and ones future reproductive life. Undiagnosed PID or pelvic inflammatory disease can cause chronic problems like pain, discomfort and ultimately may lead to the removal of the tubes and the ovaries. All this can be prevented by a simple test if carried out early enough. The tests are simple to do and the results are available within one week.