Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

As STIs are easily passed on through sexual contact, when someone has a positive diagnosis for an infection, it is important that their current and past sexual partners are notified and diagnosed/treated, in order to reduce the risk of spreading/re-infection.  GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) Clinics may be able to provide help by notifying previous partners (confidentially) that they may have come into contact with an STI, and inviting them to attend a clinic.

Some Sexually Transmitted Infections - Signs, symptoms and treatments

FUNGAL INFECTION

Thrush

This infection usually occurs naturally in women but can be passed on by sexual contact
Usually symptomatic on and around the genitals by can also present as oral thrush.

Symptoms
- itching and soreness of the genital area, also some burning/pain when urinating or having sex.  Men may have a red, itchy rash on the penis and women will often get an whitish vaginal discharge (which may resemble damp cotton wool or talcum powder)

Treatment
- Easily treated with an antifungal cream/tablets over the counter from the pharmacist. Treatment can also be prescribed at the GP surgery or GUM clinic.
Eating live, probiotic yoghurts can help to prevent thrush by increasing the amount of ‘good ‘ bacteria in the body, which helps to minimise the risk of thrush developing

PARASITE INFECTIONS

Scabies - contact infection that can be caught during sex

A common infection of the skin caused by parasitic mites.  
Very easily transmitted through bodily contact

Symptoms
- extremely itchy, possibly all over the body. May cause a rash that appears under the skin.

Treatment
- treatable with lotions available from the pharmacist, GP or GUM clinic.

Pubic Lice (‘Crabs’)

Live in the pubic hair and feed on blood of host by biting the skin
Can be found anywhere on the body where there is coarse thick hair, eg. chest, underarms and even eyebrows!

Symptoms
- itching followed by what look like small darkish red/brown ‘scabs’ in the pubic area (these are most likely, live lice)

Treatment - lotions are available to buy over the counter in a pharmacy, however lice are often accompanied by other STIs and therefore it is advisable to go to a GUM clinic for screening

BACTERIAL INFECTIONS

Chlamydia

The most common STI in the UK (Lincolnshire has a very high rate of infection)

Symptoms
- grey watery discharge from the penis or vagina, pain when urinating or during/after sex. HOWEVER… as many as 60-80% of women and 40-50% of men show no sign of infection

Treatment
- antibiotics. Infections that are left undiagnosed/untreated in the long term can lead to other problems developing; eg increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (women), pelvic inflammatory disorder (women) and infertility (both men and women)

Trichomoniasis

An infection of the genitals that is caused by the bacterium trichomonas vaginalis (TV)

Symptoms - the condition often has no symptoms, but when present, symptoms may include a yellow or green discharge from the vagina with soreness. Men usually act as carriers and do not show symptoms.

Treatment - antibiotics

NSU (Non-specific Urethritis)

An infection of the urinary tract caused by bacteria. There are often a variety of causes of NSU and it’s not always related to sex as this infection can also occur naturally

Symptoms - pain when urinating and maybe a whitish discharge

Treatment - antibiotics

Gonorrhoea - (‘The clap’)

Bacterial infection that is passed on during sexual contact.

Symptoms - Itchy and sore genitals, discharge that may vary in consistency from ‘creamy’ to ‘cottage cheese’ like and colour may be white, yellow or green. Pain when urinating and cloudy, smelly urine. Men’s testicles may swell due to epididymitis - inflammation of the epididymis (sperm duct). HOWEVER… many people show no signs or symptoms (up to 70% of women and 30% of men).

Treatment - antibiotics    - some strains of gonorrhoea sometimes show resistance to some antibiotics and may require more aggressive antibiotic treatment

Syphilis (‘The Pox’)

Bacterial infection that has 3 stages:
1)   A painless red sore (chancre) usually on, or close to the genitals but may appear anywhere on the body
2)   A rash that can spread all over the body, including on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
3)   Long term problems, occurring up to 40+ years after initial infection, including heart/liver/kidney failure, blindness, insanity, circulation problems (which could lead to other complications such as gangrene) and ultimately, DEATH

Treatment - Antibiotics will cure the infection up the end of the 2nd stage. Once in 3rd stage only symptoms are treated.

VIRAL INFECTIONS

Viral infections remain in the body indefinitely although there may be no signs or symptoms.

Genital Warts - Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Second most common STI in the UK, there are around 30 types of HPV that are transmitted through sexual contact, including those that cause genital warts and can cause cervical cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name of a family of viruses that affect the skin and the moist membranes that line the body, such as those in the cervix, anus, mouth and throat. In the UK, from September 2008, routine HPV vaccination will be introduced for girls who are 12 and 13 years of age, as part of the national immunisation programme. A three year catch up campaign, starting from the Autumn of 2008, will offer the HPV vaccine to girls between 13 and 18 years of age.

Symptoms - warts on the penis, vagina or anus (can also be internal). The virus is most infectious to other people when warts are present.

Treatment - warts can be removed using acidic creams, liquid nitrogen to freeze, laser surgery (burning) or removed surgically.

Genital Herpes - Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Symptoms - fluid filled blisters on the genitals. May also be sore and itchy.  Herpes can be passed on even without symptoms, although the virus is more likely to be passed on while blisters are present.

Treatment - creams and tablets taken orally can be used to relieve symptoms, suppress the virus and protect the immune system. Anyone who has the virus may experience sporadic outbreaks of symptoms throughout their life.

Hepatitis B & C

Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can be caught through sexual contact, although there are other types of Hepatitis that aren’t associated with sexual transmission. Hepatitis B can be passed to other people through sex, although Hepatitis C is more commonly connected with drug use.  Infection can also be passed through saliva.

Symptoms - general aches and pains, feeling sick, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice. This viral infection causes inflammation of the liver, so can lead to general feeling of ill health and could cause long-term liver damage.

Treatment - no specific treatment is available, although new drugs can help reduce severity of symptoms and suppress the virus whilst protecting the immune system. Good hygiene practice will prevent the spread of infection to others and maintaining a healthy life-style, avoiding alcohol and fatty foods, will help manage the infection.

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