Did you know that April is STD Awareness Month? Even though it’s almost the end of April, it’s not too late to get yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases. STD Awareness Month is an annual observance to raise awareness about the impact of sexually transmitted diseases on the health of Americans and the importance of discussing sexual health. Although this is a United States based campaign, anyone throughout the world can participate.

Get Yourself Tested is the official website for this national campaign, which is aimed at informing young people about STD’s and the promotion of testing and treatment. While the campaign targets young people, the concept can be adapted to anyone’s personal situation, whether you are 25 or 55 – it’s still important to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases if you are sexually active. To find an STD testing location, check out the National HIV and STD Testing Resources website.

To help you become more familiar with the most common sexually transmitted diseases, below you will find some information and symptoms so you know what to look for when checking yourself and any potential sex partners for sexually transmitted diseases.

Chlamydia (Bacterial)

Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria that results an infection in the genital area. It can get into the urethra and it can also infect the rectum and sometimes it can spread from the genital area to other parts of the body including the eyes and throat. Chlamydia is spread by sexual contact through anal or oral sex. This is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections. Chlamydia can cause serious health problems later in life, but can be treated successfully with the use of antibiotics.

Affected Areas: Eyes, Penis, Rectum, Testicles, Throat, Urethra

Symptoms

  • Usually appear between 1 and 3 weeks after exposure but may not emerge until much later
  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • A white/cloudy and watery discharge from the penis
  • Swollen or tender testicles

Genital Warts (Viral)

Genital warts are fleshy growths or bumps seen most often in moist areas in and around the genitals and anus including the inside of the opening of the urethra, and may also be inside the anal canal. They are caused by a group of viruses called human papilloma virus (HPV). Genital warts are highly contagious, very common and can recur. Genital warts can appear as white or flesh-colored, smooth, small bumps, or larger, fleshy cauliflower-like lumps. Not everyone infected with HPV will develop genital warts – some will be infected with a strain that does not produce warts, or they will not appear, even though the virus is present in the skin or mucous membranes around the genital area. You can apply drugs directly onto warts which will cause them to disappear, but they may reappear in the future.

Affected Areas: Anus, Mouth, Penis, Scrotum, Thighs, Throat, Urethra

Symptoms

  • May appear 1 to 3 months after initial infection
  • Pinkish/white lumps, varying in size on the genital area which can appear on or around the penis, scrotum, thighs or the anus
  • Can become fleshy cauliflower-like lumps

Gonorrhea (Bacterial)

Gonorrhea can cause a yellow or white discharge from the penis, along with pain when passing urine. When infecting the anus, there can be a similar discharge. Most of the symptoms of infection will start within 1 to 14 days of infection and include a vague ache of the joints and muscles. Although these can disappear after a further 10 or so days, you are still infectious. If left untreated, gonorrhea can affect the prostate gland, spread to the scrotum and can affect the joints. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, although some drug-resistant strains are known to exist.

Affected Areas: Anus, Penis, Rectum, Scrotum, Throat, Urethra

Symptoms

  • May appear in 1 to 14 days after exposure
  • A white or yellow discharge from this penis
  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Irritation and/or discharge from the anus
  • Possibly no symptoms until it spreads further

Hepatitis B (Viral)

Hepatitis B is one of the more deadly Sexually Transmitted Infections, although there is a protective vaccine to prevent it. It can cause as little as a flu-like illness or as much as total destruction of the liver. Typically, it will cause different degrees of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes). There is no way of knowing if the person you are having sex with has the infection. Some people can ‘carry’ the virus and not know. This is a serious liver disease, which can make you very ill. Hepatitis B can take months to recover from and in some cases can be fatal.

Affected Areas: Nowhere specific

Symptoms

  • May appear in 6 to 90 days
  • Often nothing – but can be detected by a blood test
  • Sometimes flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Jaundice – yellowish skin and whites of eyes, darker yellow urine and pale feces

Herpes (Viral)

Herpes is a viral infection of the skin which can infect the corners of the mouth, the outer parts of the genital areas and even the anus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV); HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both cause crusted blisters and then ulcers that weep a thin, watery substance. Herpes comes in attacks which can last for months and then disappear for years, or even never return. For some people, the condition will pass unnoticed, with only tiny ulcers on the penis to show its presence. Herpes cannot be cured, as the virus never leaves the body, but outbreaks can be suppressed by using tablets and cream.

Affected Areas: Anus, Eyes, Hands, Mouth, Penis

Symptoms

  • Usually appear 2 to 7 days after exposure and last 2 to 4 weeks
  • Itching or tingling sensations in the genital or anal area
  • Small fluid-filled painful blisters around the mouth and genital area
  • Discharge from the anus
  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Flu-like symptoms as the infection spreads

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (Viral)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a condition in which the immune system begins to fail and is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). People who are infected with the virus are said to be HIV positive. Over time (usually many years) HIV affects a person’s immune system by infecting and killing off certain white blood cells, which means the body is less able to protect itself from disease. When the immune system has been badly damaged by HIV infection, people can get sick from infection or cancers. At this stage of HIV infection, a person is said to have AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV. Once you have the virus, you remain infectious for life.

Affected Areas: Nowhere specific

Symptoms

  • May appear after around 3 months
  • Often none. People can stay fit and well for many years and not know they have HIV
  • Symptoms can differ from person to person and may occur several years after infection. These can include night sweats, swollen lymph glands and recurrent infections

Non-gonococcal Urethritis (Bacterial)

Urethritis refers an infection of the urethra, which is the tube that runs from the bladder to the outside. Urine and semen pass through this tube. Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) most commonly means there is an infection in the urethra. Sometimes the cause of the infection can be found but often is not proven. If left untreated, non-specific urethritis may lead to inflammation of the scrotum and be painful during sex. Antibiotics can treat most urethritis infections.

Affected Areas: Anus, Urethra, Penis, Scrotum

Symptoms

  • A white/cloudy discharge from the penis
  • Inflammation of the scrotum
  • Desire to urinate more frequently
  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Flu-like symptoms

Pubic Lice (Parasitic)

Pubic lice are brown or grey in color and shaped like tiny crabs. They live in hair of the pubic area, body and armpits and may also live in strong hair of the face such as beards and eyelashes. Lice feed on human blood and can live up to four weeks on the human body, but die within twenty-four hours away from the human body on clothes, bedding or other material. Treatments can be purchased from the chemist or drug store.

Affected Areas: Genital Area, Pubic Area

Symptoms

  • Symptoms may appear in 5 days to 7 weeks
  • Itching in the genital area

Scabies (Parasitic)

Scabies is a skin infestation with a mite called sarcoptes scabiei. These mites burrow into the skin where they live and reproduce. Eggs laid in the burrows hatch, crawl out onto the skin and make new burrows. Scabies can be treated with special lotion purchased from the chemist or drug store.

Affected Areas: Anus, Scrotum

Symptoms

  • May appear in 2 to 6 weeks
  • Eczema-like rash
  • Itchy red patches on the body
  • Scratching at night

Syphilis (Bacterial)

Syphilis is curable and is caused by a microscopic parasite, which is highly infectious. At first it causes sores or ulcers on the genitals. If it is not treated, the infection then spreads through the body and may infect the brain and other organs. It has serious long term effects. If left untreated, syphilis can cause mental illness, blindness, heart disease or even death.

Affected Areas: Anus, Mouth, Penis, Rectum, Scrotum

Symptoms

  • May appear in 21 days (primary stage)
  • Sometimes none at all, but can be detected by a blood test
  • Painless sores on the penis, mouth or anus
  • Rash on the body
  • Flu-like symptoms

Note: This article has been produced for general information only. Brad is not a doctor or health care professional and he does not work in a similar field. This article has been compiled through online research. It is important if you believe that you may have a Sexually Transmitted Infection that you seek professional medical advice as soon as possible so a medical professional can make a proper diagnosis.

References:

  1. Get Yourself Tested
    http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt/
  2. National HIV and STD Testing Resources
    http://www.hivtest.org/STDTesting.aspx
  3. Sexually Transmitted Disease – Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease
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