Sexually transmitted diseases: What are they and how to protect?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted by vaginal, anal or oral sexual activity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, more than one million people are diagnosed with STDs every day. In our country, the group with the highest incidence of STDs is the 25-29 and 30-34 age group. STDs are serious diseases that negatively affect public health. For this reason, it is necessary to increase the level of knowledge and awareness about sexually transmitted diseases in order to increase the sexual health of the society.

 

How does it affect health?


STDs affects people biologically, psychologically, socially and economically. As a result of sexually transmitted diseases, problems such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, sepsis, urethral stenosis, neonatal blindness, cancer and death may occur. In addition, it can cause psychosocial problems such as socialization and stigma in individuals. As a result, these diseases bring many burdens to the individual, family and society.

 

Who is at risk for sexually transmitted diseases?

 

STDs is extremely important in terms of human health because it is difficult to diagnose, is frequently seen and its treatment is long-term. Risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases are as follows:

  • Starting sexual intercourse at an early age
  • Unprotected sex
  • Being polygamous
  • His wife is polygamous
  • Sex workers
  • Having insufficient or wrong information about STD
  • Lack of access to family planning methods
  • Failure to transfusion of blood and blood products under appropriate conditions

 

Clinical symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases


In terms of clinical symptoms of STDs, urethritis is most common in men. Pelvic inflammatory disease, cervicitis, vaginitis, genital ulcers, hepatitis and neonatal diseases are seen in women. Accordingly, women usually have vaginal discharge, genital ulcers, pain in the lower abdomen; In men, there are symptoms such as swelling in the scrotum, swelling in the groin, urethral discharge, genital ulcers.

 

How can we protect ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases?


It is even more important to prioritize preventive methods rather than therapeutic methods in sexually transmitted diseases. In order to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, the following should be considered:

  • Do not have sexual intercourse with people whose sexual history you do not know.
  • Use a condom with every sexual intercourse.
  • Get effective sexual health education.
  • Do not use needles and syringes that have been used by other people before.
  • Get tattoo, epilation, manicure, pedicure, shaving, ear piercing, dental treatment done where you trust.
  • Get your hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Get your HPV vaccine.

 

References

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/how-to-prevent-stis . Published August 2020, Accessed Jan 2022.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/fact_sheets.htm . Last reviewed: Jan 2022, Accessed Jan 2022.
  3. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted ınfections (STIs). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis) Published Nov 2021, Accessed Jan 2022.
  4. Yıldırım, F., & Erbil, N. (2021). Türkiye’de üniversite öğrencilerinin cinsel yolla bulaşan hastalıklar konusunda bilgi düzeyi: Sistematik derleme. Androloji Bülteni, 23(3), 179-186.
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