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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs):

STDs or Venereal Diseases (VDs) are reproductive tract infections (RTI) which are transmitted from one human being to another through sexual intimacy. Of these, HIV-AIDS, and Hepatitis B are also transmitted through Sharing surgical instruments, injection needles, transfusion of blood, and congenitally transferred from mother to foetus via placenta or milk. 

Except for AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Genital Herpes, all other STDs are completely curable if detected and treated early. In women, they are often asymptomatic and remain undetected for long. Delay in reporting can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID), and abortion. Still birth, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and even cancer of the reproductive tract. Incidence of STDs is especially high in the age group of 15-24 years.  

Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases: 

1) Gonorrhoea: Caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae which is spread through sexual contact, and use of common toilets, and undergarments. Incubation period 2-5 days Passes through genital tubes, forms pus containing discharges, pain over genitalia, and burning during urination. It may also lead to arthritis, and eye infection in children of affected mothers. Detection- Gram staining of discharge and culture. 

Gonorrhea signs and symptoms

Gonorrhea infected children

2) Genital Herpes:  

It is caused by the Type-II Herpes simplex virus. The disease is primarily transmitted sexually through genital secretions but also on contact with viroids and genitalia. There are vesiculopustular lesions followed by clusters of painful erythematous ulcers over external genitalia and perianal regions. Symptoms are more severe in females. Infection of neonates can occur in the case of infected females. There is fever, headache pain, itching, and vaginal and urethral discharge with tender inguinal lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes). Urethral and cervix infections also occur. Detection is carried out by clinical symptoms, antigen detection, PCR, and nucleic acid hybridization. 

Genital Herpes

3) Syphilis: It is a highly infectious venereal bacterial disease caused by a spirochaete (Treponema pallidum) with an incubation period of 3-5 weeks. Transmission through sexual contact and from mother to children. In the 1st stage, there is indurated infectious and painless ulcer or chancre on the genitals and swelling of local lymph glands. In the 2nd stage, the chancre is healed and there are skin lesions, rashes, hair loss, swollen joints, and flu-like illness occasionally. In the tertiary stage chronic ulcers appear on the palate, nose, and lower leg. These can be paralysis, brain damage, blindness, etc.  

Syphilis

4) Hepatitis B: It is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Mode of transmission may be blood transfusion, sexual contact, saliva, tears, intravenous drug abuse, tattooing, ear, and nose piercing, and sharing of razors. It can produce cirrhosis and possibly cancer of the liver. Vaccines produced through recombinant DNA technology are available to prevent hepatitis B infection. E.g., Recombivax HB.

Hepatitis B

5) Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs): 

It is caused by Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a retrovirus that attacks helper T cells which stimulate antibody production of B cells. This results in the loss of natural defense against viral infection. 

Steps to prevent STDs: 

  1. Avoid sex with unknown/multiple partners. 
  2. Always use condoms during coitus. 
  3. If in doubt, go to a qualified doctor for early detection and treatment for diseases. 

Other diseases of the Reproductive Tract:  

1) Testicular Cancer: Most common cancer in males of age 20-35 years. 95% of cases arise from spermatogenic cells within seminiferous tubules. An early sign is a mass in the testis, often associated with a sensation of testicular heaviness or a dull ache in the lower abdomen. The pain usually does not occur.  

Testicular Cancer

2) Prostate Disorders: Any infection, enlargement, or tumour that obstructs the urine flow. Acute and chronic infections of the prostate are common in pot-pubescent males often in associated with inflammation of the urethra. It is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in men. A blood test can measure levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). 

Enlarged prostate

3) Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS): Appears in the post-ovulatory period and disappears as soon as menses begins. Signs are highly variable. They may include oedema, weight gain, breast swelling and tenderness, abdominal distensions, backache, joint pain, constipation, fatigue, lethargy, etc. 

4) Breast cancer: Breast cancer is a disorder in which the cells of the breast proliferate uncontrollably. There are various types of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer is determined by which cells in the breast develop into cancer. A lump or thickening in the breast that feels distinct from the surrounding tissue. Breast size, shape, or appearance changes. Dimpling is a change in the skin above the breast. A recently flipped nipple. The pigmented region of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast flesh peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking. Redness or pitting of the skin around your breast, similar to orange skin. Drugs like Tamoxifen and Evista are used for prevention.  

Breast cancer

5) Cervical Cancer: Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus, which is transmitted sexually (HPV). HPV can induce abnormal cervical cell proliferation, often known as cervical dysplasia. Pelvic pain increased vaginal discharge, and irregular vaginal bleeding is the most prevalent symptoms and indicators of cervical cancer.

  1. Having several sexual partners is a risk factor for cervical cancer.
  2. Prolonged use of birth control tablets a Papanicolaou smear (PAP smear) paired with an HPV test can be used to diagnose cervical cancer. To assess the stage of cancer, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans may be performed. Cervical cancer treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy. Precancerous alterations in the cervix can be detected using modern screening procedures. As a result, screening is suggested once a year for women over the age of 30.

Cervical cancer

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