As a part of STD prevention, let's investigate the basic symptoms, who's at risk, and how to prevent contracting five common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Today, we will discuss the Chlamydia and Herpes.
Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia affects men and women differently.
For women, symptoms may include vaginal discharge, painful urination or intercourse, lower abdominal pain, fever, and bleeding between periods. If Chlamydia is left untreated, it may cause more serious complications, like pelvic inflammatory disease (which can lead to infertility) and chronic pain.
For men, symptoms may include painful urination, penile discharge, a burning or itching sensation at the opening of the penis, and testicular pain, but other side effects are rare.
The Chlamydia bacteria can cause eye infections in both sexes, and mothers can also pass the bacteria to infants during childbirth, creating a risk for pneumonia and eye infections in newborns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 2.8 million Americans are infected each year. According to the CDC, sexually active teenage girls are more at risk, due to the immaturity of their cervix.
- Sexually active women in their mid-20s or younger should be screened for Chlamydia each year. Testing is also recommended for pregnant women of any age, as well as older women who have multiple sexual partners or a new partner who has not been tested. Fortunately, a few doses of antibiotics can cure Chlamydia.
Genital herpes is caused by an infection of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) can also cause genital herpes, though it is very uncommon.
Spread by sexual contact, the virus enters the body through small openings in the skin or mucous membranes. While the first episode of genital herpes triggers pain and itching on the skin around the genital area, internally, and sometimes on the buttocks, red bumps form that develop into leaking blisters soon after. Some people develop flulike symptoms, like fever.
Although the sores typically heal on their own within a month, the virus stays in the body to cause future (but less severe) outbreaks. Genital herpes may not cause any symptoms, or the signs might be so mild they're unnoticed.
Although cases are rare, newborns are at risk for contracting genital herpes during vaginal delivery if the mother has an active infection. In newborns, the virus can cause blindness, meningitis, seizures, brain damage, and even death. Pregnant women should be screened for genital herpes in order to prevent its transmission during childbirth.
Women have a slightly higher risk of developing herpes because the disease is easier to pass from men to women than from women to men. An annual Papanicolaou (Pap) smear is recommended to check for this and other infections.
- Genital herpes can be treated with antiviral, suppressive medications to shorten and prevent outbreaks. These medications can also reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmission during sex. There is no cure for genital herpes.
Did you learn anything about Chlamydia or Herpes? Let us know in the comment section below! Join us tomorrow as we continue the discussion with Gonnorhea and HPV.
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