There are many myths and misunderstood facts surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and adequate awareness is the only way to steer clear of these. Efforts in the direction of creating awareness about the various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), their causes, mode of transmission and prevention from such diseases is one of the key determinants of reproductive health.
Also known as venereal diseases or reproductive tract infections, such diseases are infectious conditions transmitted through sexual contact. Few commonly known sexually transmitted diseases are AIDS, Gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes and warts, chlamydiosis and hepatitis-B. A majority of these diseases occur without any symptoms, owing to the action of bacteria, viruses, and parasites of different strains, and this makes it even riskier for women.
If awareness is lacking in this area, then by the time the disease is caught it could progress to untreatable dangerous situations. From infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), abortions, to ectopic pregnancies, and in worse scenarios it can also cause cancer of the reproductive tract. The stigma about such diseases is perhaps the main reason why women especially in rural areas keep it under wraps. This has to necessarily change.
The organisms like bacteria, viruses or parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases pass from person to person through blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. Apart from sexual contact, these types of infections could also be transmitted non-sexually, like from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, through breastfeeding or through blood transfusions of contaminated blood and tissue or from sharing of syringes.
Especially in the case of diseases like AIDS, this may also be passed from the mother to her child during birth, or after birth through breastfeeding. The right diagnosis and treatment of the same is hence necessary before it blows out of proportion and turns untreatable. Though hepatitis-B, genital herpes, and HIV infections still baffle the medical community, every other sexually transmitted disease can be cured if caught early on.
Depending on the organism causing it the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases usually appear only a few days after exposure, or it may take years before any noticeable problems are seen. Some commonly seen signs that should not be ignored could be unusual discharges from genitals, genital ulcers, tumors, itching or pain during intercourse. Ideally it is best to consult a doctor once you are sexually active and you think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection.
As for the prevention strategies, various government and non-governmental programs that promote safe sexual habits, and awareness about various sexually transmitted diseases should be reaching far flung rural areas. The introduction of sex education is one of the steps taken by the government to spread awareness among adolescents about safe sexual practices. It is also important to provide proper medical facilities to deal with problems related to sexually transmitted diseases. As such diseases often have no symptoms, testing is the only way to know for sure if someone has one so regular STD screening with the help of specific tests is a good idea for anyone who’s sexually active. Talking to a doctor about strategies to protect yourself from contracting the STD from your partner is also a smart step.
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