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Health
26/ 11/ 11
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs)

Syphillis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea... Surely, you know a little bit about these STIs and how to avoid getting infected. But are you sure you've got the whole picture?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what does what to whom and which comes from where or what...

Here are some basic facts, which you should be aware of...

Chlamydia

This is the most common STI. It is caused by the bacterium Chlaymida tracomatis. It was first diagnosed in the 20th century and has been a reportable disease since 1990.

How it is spread: It is spread through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person by semen, vaginal fluid or infected cells in the back of the throat. It can also be spread from a mother to her baby during delivery. If left untreated, it can result in serious infection of the lining of the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It may cause sterility in men and women.

Symptoms: Many men and women have no symptoms. Men may have discharge and itching around the opening of the penis, burning sensation when they urinate or pain in the testicles. A urine test is used for diagnosis. Women may have increased vaginal discharge, pain during urination, pain in the lower abdomen or during sexual intercourse. A swab is taken from the cervix for diagnosis. Swabs may also be taken from the throat and rectum.

Treatment: Antibiotics. No sex for seven days after treatment is finished. All sexual partners in past 90 days should be examined and treated.

Prevention: Always use a condom or dental dam.

Gonorrhea

Sometimes called "the clap," gonorrhea has been plaguing mankind for thousands of years. It is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

How it is spread: It is spread through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex with an infected person, through semen, vaginal fluids, or from infected cells at the back of the throat. It can be spread to the eyes by hands touching infected fluids and to babies during birth. The resulting pelvic inflammatory infection in women can block fallopian tubes causing sterility or ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. Men can become sterile.

Symptoms: Half of the men and women infected have no symptoms. Incubation is 2 to 10 days. Women may have pain during urination, in the lower abdomen or during intercourse. Many women may only have a smelly vaginal discharge. Men may have a smelly discharge or itching around the urethra, urinate more often and have pain and swelling in testicles. If contracted from oral sex, it can cause sore throat and swollen glands. It is diagnosed with urine tests in men, cervical swabs for women, and throat and rectum swabs for both.

Treatment: Antibiotics. No sex for seven days after treatment. All partners within 60 days must be examined and treated.

Prevention: Always use a condom or dental dam.

Syphillis

An age-old scourge easily treated in modern days with penicillin, it is responsible for the death of gangster Al Capone, among others. Caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, it is also passed through anal, oral or vaginal sex with an infected person. It causes highly infectious sores on the vagina, the anus, the penis or the mouth.

How it is spread: It is spread through direct contact with these sores and rashes, through injection drug use or from a pregnant mother to her baby. It is also passed through semen and vaginal fluids, and contact with a skin rash during the later stage.

Symptoms: Some people have no symptoms or are unaware of a painless sore that appears on the penis, buttocks, vagina, throat or any other place the infection entered the body. After 4 to 10 weeks, in the later stage, a rash may appear, there can be patchy hair loss, muscle and joint pain or swollen glands. Without treatment, the infection becomes latent to appear 10 to 20 years later causing serious heart, brain and bone disease.

Diagnosis: It is diagnosed through blood tests.

Treatment: Antibiotics, usually penicillin.

Prevention: Do not have sex at all with people who have sores in the genital area. Not even a condom or dental dam can provide protection.

Herpes

Herpes is a general term for two different diseases: one that affects the area around the mouth (oral herpes, also known as cold sores) and another that affects the area around the genitals (genital herpes). Viruses cause both of these diseases. Herpes cannot be cured. Once someone is infected with either virus, it cannot be cleared from the human body.

How it is spread: It is spread through kissing and oral-genital sex and more serious sexual activity, including penile-vaginal or penile-anal intercourse.

Symptoms: The symptoms of herpes depend on the site of disease:

  • Oral herpes (cold sores): Sores around the mouth and nostrils. They may itch or be painful.
  • Genital herpes: Sores on the penis in males or near or in the vagina in women. Genital herpes can also cause sores near the anus, including the area between the anus and the genital (the perineum). Sometimes, genital herpes can cause pain when urinating or defecating.

Treatment: Herpes cannot be cured. Once either virus is inside the body and settles itself into the nerve cells, it cannot be eliminated. However, herpes sores can be treated. Treatment can speed up healing time, reduce pain and delay or prevent additional flare-ups. Typically, treatment is used only during a flare-up. This is called "episodic therapy." In people with compromised immune systems, flare-ups can be frequent and may require long-term therapy to prevent recurrences. This is called "suppressive therapy."

Prevention: Do not have sex with or kiss people with blisters. Since the infection can be passed without any symptoms, use condoms regularly for any contact.

More information...

Check out this brochure about Sex and STIs.

For those who are interested in finding out more about STIs, visit the Sexually Transmitted Infections Journal website. - http://sti.bmj.com/

For medical advice, you can contact the GU Clinic.


National Gay Helpline

If at any time you require support or you feel like you would like to express your thoughts freely to a person who will understand you, send us an email on support@maltagayrights.org

You may also call the National Gay Helpline, run by MGRM... Tel: +356 21430006 / +356 99255559

The Drachma Parents Group is also an active group within Drachma.  Their mission is that of providing support to parents and friends of LGBT people, read more

contACT

If at any time you require support or you feel like you would like to express your thoughts freely to a person who will understand you, send us an email on support@maltagayrights.org

You may also call the National Gay Helpline, run by MGRM... Tel: +356 21430006 / +356 99255559

Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM)

32, Parish Street ,
Mosta ,
MST 2021,
Malta (Europe).
T: +356 2143 0009
M: +356 9925 5559
E: mgrm@maltagayrights.org

The Drachma Parents Group is also an active group within Drachma.  Their mission is that of providing support to parents and friends of LGBT people, read more