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Prophylaxis of sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) present a group of infectious diseases with sexual mode of transmission. Besides syphilis and gonorrhea, there are more than 20 other diseases that can be transmitted sexually, such as urogenital chlamydial infection, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, genital warts, ureaplasmosis, mycoplasmosis, urogenital candidiasis. Such parasitic diseases as scabies and pediculosis can also be transmitted during sexual intercourse.

In the world, every sixth citizen suffers from some STD. All these diseases are infectious and are caused by microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites). They are never relieved spontaneously without treatment. Chronic STD can lead to severe complications: chronic inflammatory urogenital diseases in men and women, decreased potential in men (up to impotence) and miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, infertility and even genital cancer in women.

In 2012, a decrease in the STD morbidity was recorded: the incidence of syphilis (977 cases) decreased by 12%, of trichomoniasis (10 104) by 17,2%, genital herpes (1691) by 13,2% as compared with 2011.  The incidence of gonorrhea increased by 6,1% (3371 cases), chlamydial infection by 11,4% (10 538). The incidence of mychoplasmosis remained to be at the level of 2011 (2005 cases).

In 2012, the STD morbidity in Minsk region was the following:   syphilis – 112, gonorrhea – 379, trichomoniasis – 1914, urogenital chlamydial infection – 1119, genital herpes – 116, mychoplasmosis – 186 cases.

HIV-infection is the most severe disease, sexual activity being one of the primary modes of its transmission. The presence of some STD in a patient increases considerably the risk of getting HIV-infection.

All STDs have different incubation period, that is, the period from the invasion of the body by disease-causing organisms, to the appearance of clinical manifestations of the disease. In syphilis, the incubation period lasts 3-4 weeks followed by the appearance of a hard chancre. This is a small ulcer or erosion formed in the place of the invasion of the causative agent. Seven or 8 weeks later, secondary syphilis develops, which is characterized by the eruptions on the skin of the trunk, extremities and mucous membranes. Inner organs, the nervous and skeletal systems can also be affected. After 3-5 years, if the patient did not receive any treatment, tertiary syphilis occurs with destructive irreversible damage to the organs and tissues.

For gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, the incubation period ranges from 3 to 5 days; for chlamydiosis and mychoplasmosis, up to 45 days.

The most typical symptoms of STDs are:

  • urethral or rectal discharge, unusual vaginal discharge;
  • itching, burning or discomfort during urination, frequent urination;
  • pain in the lower abdomen, as well as in the lumbar area in women and in the testicle area in men;
  • pain during sexual contacts;
  • formation of small ulcers, blisters and erosions on the genitals, in the anal area oral cavity;
  • proliferation if the genital and anal areas;
  • rash over the body, as well as on the genitals, the palms and soles;
  • increased lymph nodes.

These manifestations can decrease or disappear some time later even without treatment, but it does not mean that the patient recovered. This means that the disease became chronic. Some of STDs have vague symptomatology. Please, remember that these diseases will not be cured without treatment. Self-medication cannot be allowed.

The presence of the above mentioned symptoms, especially after casual sex, should be considered to be a solid reason for visiting a doctor. This can be an obstetrician-gynecologist, an urologist or a dermatovenerologist.  Only after thorough examination and laboratory tests, the doctor can make a conclusion about the presence or absence of a STD. The treatment is usually complex. It includes the use of antibiotics, immune-stimulating therapy and local treatment.

In case when the disease has been detected, the patient should undergo a full course of treatment and laboratory tests observing all the doctor’s recommendations. Never interrupt the treatment, because it may lead to the recurrence of the disease in a more severe form. During the treatment, the use of alcohol is forbidden. Sexual contacts should be avoided too during all period of treatment and follow-up. It is very important! Otherwise, your partner will be infected, and you will get the infection from him/her again. It is necessary to inform your partner about the need of applying to a doctor.

The majority of STDs are curable. When applying to a medical establishment, the patients have the right to be treated with respect. Confidentiality is guaranteed in accordance with the acting legislation.

People can protect themselves from contracting STDs or HIV. The primary step is the awareness about how these diseases are transmitted and what precautions to take in order to avoid infection. The most reliable way of preventing STDs is marital fidelity based on mutual love and respect. Early sexual life, frequent change of sexual partners, casual sex, sexual contacts with several partners without the use of chemical and physical barriers lead to increased risk of infection.

People having sexual contacts outside marriage should know about safe sex practices and measures of individual protection. The most reliable means of protection from the majority of STDs is the use of latex condoms. You’d better have them before they are needed. Oral use of antibiotics and other medicines for prophylaxis is not recommended, because it may lead to the development of candidiasis (thrush) and will not protect you from infection.

Sometimes, people may contract simultaneously several STDs. It should be noted that treatment of each disease may differ considerably. In case you have any doubts, consult the doctor and undergo careful examination. For additional information, refer to regional dermatovenerological dispensaries. In many of them, paid medical services are provided including anonymous screening and treatment of STDs.

Please, remember!!! There are no effective folk remedies for treating STDs. You should seek treatment only in specialized medical establishments!

Remember that it is you who are responsible for your health and the health of people closest to you!!!