STDs are sexually transmitted diseases, also known as sexually transmitted infections.
Many people get confused about the terminology for STD and STI, yet they are the same thing. STIs were previously referred to as STDs, however scientists over the years have decided to take away the word disease and replace it with the word infection.
- What are the most common STDs?
- Are there long-term consequences from untreated STDs?
- How to test yourself at home for STDs
What are the most common STDs?
Some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world include HPV (human papillomavirus), this is also known as genital warts. Other extremely common bacterial infections in the world are chlamydia and gonorrhea, while common viral infections include HIV and syphilis.
The biggest issue with STDs and why they are so common, is because they might not have many symptoms at all. 4 out of 5 women with chlamydia have no symptoms. This is also the case with other infections including HIV and syphilis, where you may not be aware you have the infection, until the disease has progressed to much later, which makes it incredibly important to get tested.
In terms of symptoms, for many women, a vaginal discharge is completely normal, known as a physiological discharge. However, in certain cases, like if you have an STD, you can develop what is called a pathological discharge, which is an abnormal discharge. Abnormal discharge is discharge that may smell unpleasant, or is different from normal discharge in colour e.g. yellow, grey, green.
Some women may experience an alternation of their periods, some women will experience bleeding after sex, or bleeding in between their periods. Other women may experience pain during or after intercourse also. These are all indicators of STDs in women.
For men, the symptoms are slightly different. Men can experience a discharge from their penis, a stinging or burning pain during urination. Occasionally, they may also experience blood in the sperm or pain during ejaculation, or testicular pain and discomfort.
Depending on what type of sex the male is having, you may also experience rectal symptoms if you are engaging in anal intercourse, for example a discharge from the anus, which could be green or contain blood. Another symptom of an STD could be a sore throat, if you are having unprotected oral sex.
Are there long-term consequences from untreated STDs?
With these symptoms in mind, it’s important to remember that many sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms and untreated STDs can result in long-term health consequences for both men and women. Women could develop an infection called pelvic inflammatory disease, where the disease infects the fallopian tubes and the uterus. This can lead to infertility at a later date. Men on the other hand, can develop infections known as epididymis and testicular infections, with a link to infertility with untreated infections also.
It’s advised that you should get tested if you have any unusual genital symptoms, for example unusual discharge, abnormal bleeding or pain in the genital area. You should also get tested if you notice any new lumps and bumps in the genital area or new rashes.
Everybody who is sexually active should be tested. Many patients who are in long-term relationships, ask if they should get tested. We would recommend that patients get tested at the beginning of a new relationship or if they are having regular sexual partners to get tested. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, it’s always good to get a full sexual health screening.
To learn more about common STIs and STI detection, watch this short video with Dr. Dominic Rowley:
How to test yourself at home for STDs
If you feel like you may have contracted an STD, or have any notable symptoms, it would be advised that you undergo a sexual health test. At LetsGetChecked, we offer a range of different at home sexual health tests in order to help give you your peace of mind, taking the test from the comfort of your own home and receiving your results online in a matter of days, with full medical support.
To view our range of sexual health tests and be aware of your sexual health, visit www.letsgetchecked.ie/sexual-health
LetsGetChecked is the convenient personal health test provider of at home tests for general health, sexual health, cancer screening, and fertility and hormones for men and women. Take your samples from the comfort of home and return them directly to our accredited laboratory by prepaid post. The customer receives their results online within 2-5 working days of the sample reaching the laboratory.
In the event your results are positive or outside the normal range, our expert nursing support team will guide you through your personalised treatment program.
To learn more about our range of services, please visit www.letsgetchecked.ie.
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley