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Sexually transmitted diseases (venereal diseases)

Sexually transmitted diseases (venereal diseases)


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Overview of sexually transmitted diseases

Under sexually transmitted diseases is understood to mean diseases that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse or sexual acts. Many forms of these diseases are widespread and, depending on their severity and extent, can be annoying or even life-threatening. Some similarities of the sexual diseases in advance:

  • infection: All sexual diseases described here are caused by viruses or bacteria that can be transmitted during unprotected sexual acts, especially vaginal or anal intercourse.
  • Pathogen: The pathogens are often found in the sperm, vaginal secretions and / or blood serum and enter the sexual partner's circulation through the smallest of injuries during sexual intercourse.
  • risk groups: In principle, a sexual illness can affect anyone who has intimate contact with other people. People who change their sexual partners frequently and engage in unprotected sex with them, as well as drug addicts who share injections and thus have direct blood-to-blood contact, are at increased risk.
  • Prevention: The best safety measure against sexual diseases is to use condoms. In the case of dry vagina and anal intercourse, a lubricant should also be used to prevent the condom from tearing.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is associated with an imbalance of the bacteria that normally live in the female vagina. It is unclear how this imbalance arises. The healthy vaginal flora contains numerous lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli) that ward off pathogens. Similar to vaginal thrush, this balance is disturbed in bacterial vaginosis and other cultures can spread.

Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

The lactobacilli produce lactic acid and thus enrich the vagina with acid, which prevents other bacteria from spreading here. In bacterial vaginosis, these lactic acid bacteria are replaced by pathogenic germs such as Gardnerella vaginalis, chlamydia, mycoplasma or Bacteroides bacteria. As a result, the pH in the vagina rises, providing a better habitat for pathogens.

Not a classic sexually transmitted disease

Bacterial vaginosis is not a disease that can only be contracted through sexual contact. The disease can occur in any woman of childbearing age (often between 15 and 44 years). Nevertheless, the underlying bacteria can be exchanged during sex and women with frequently changing sex partners have an increased risk.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis causes increased vaginal discharge in women of childbearing potential. It is one of the most common vaginal infections. Typical symptoms include:

  • Strong smelling vaginal discharge (fish-like),
  • Discharge is watery and gray-white in color,
  • occasionally itching and burning,
  • Symptoms worsen after sex or during the menstrual period.

Effects of bacterial vaginosis

The vaginosis itself is largely symptom-free in many cases and is rather unpleasant in nature. However, treatment should still be given, because other pathogens find good conditions during vaginosis and there is a significantly increased risk of contracting further inflammation and serious infections such as AIDS. In pregnant women there is a risk of premature birth or infection of the newborn.

Medicines for bacterial vaginosis

The main drug used to treat bacterial vaginosis is the antibiotic metronidazole. The success rate is 70 to 80 percent, but 30 percent of patients with rapid healing will return in the next few months. The use is also associated with possible side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and nausea.

Naturopathy for bacterial vaginosis

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) with its anti-inflammatory effect has proven itself for naturopathic support. It can also help against menstrual cramps, vaginal discharge and bladder disorders and is considered a natural antidepressant.

Chlamydia trachomatis

Chlamydia trachomatis has become the most common sexually transmitted disease in the developed world. The WHO estimates that 100 million new cases occur worldwide every year. Studies show that this infection is the most common bacterial disease in European countries and the United States. The bacterium is transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex without a condom. Both men and women can get this common infection.

Chlamydia infections in men

Symptoms are more common in men with chlamydia, but here too about 50 percent of infections are symptom-free. The signs of the infection are: pain during urination, redness or swelling of the end of the penis, discharge from the penis, usually in yellow or beige. The urinary tract is inflamed, making urination difficult. The pain is usually limited to the tip of the penis, where the urethra ends. Pain can also occur during sex.

As with women, an untreated Chlamydia trachomatis infection can also spread to men. If the pathogen reaches the prostate and epididymis, this can cause severe pain and impair the functionality of the internal genital organs. This functional restriction can lead to sterility.

Chlamydia infections in women

Chlamydia infections in women often go undetected because around 80 percent of all infections are without visible symptoms. The only sign that occurs more often is a purulent discharge from the vagina. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread further and also affect the upper genital organs such as the fallopian tubes. Inflammation can occur there, which can lead to functional restrictions and even sterility if the inflammation becomes chronic.

Not only genital organs can be affected

Chlamydia can affect various organs, including the penis, vagina, urethra, anus, eye, throat, and lungs, and can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to the reproductive system.

Chlamydia trachomatis treatment and complications

The good news is that Chlamydia is easy to cure with antibiotics. The bad news is that half of the infected women do not know they are infected, and 30 percent develop serious complications such as damage to the fallopian tubes caused by pelvic inflammation, which can lead to sterility. Damage to the fallopian tubes can also cause the fertilized egg to implant outside the uterus; premature births are also possible.

Chlamydia in babies

A baby who is exposed to Chlamydia trachomatis in the birth canal may develop eye or pneumonia. When the baby passes through the birth canal, it comes into contact with the woman's blood and vaginal fluid. An infected baby usually shows the symptoms of conjunctivitis such as watery eyes and swollen eyelids (usually in the first ten days after birth). Symptoms of pneumonia include wheezing cough, which gets worse and worse and usually occurs three to six weeks after birth.

Naturopathy in Chlamydia trachomatis

Plants that are known for their antibacterial properties are suitable for supportive naturopathy treatment. These include, for example:

  • Sage,
  • Garlic,
  • Turmeric,
  • Cat thorn,
  • Saw palmetto,
  • Turmeric.

Gonorrhea (gonorrhea)

Gonorrhea, colloquially known as gonorrhea, is the second most common bacterial infection in Europe and a serious health problem because untreated infections can lead to complications, pelvic infections, premature birth and infertility.

Triggers gonorrhea

The sexually transmitted infection is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium, which thrives in the warm, humid areas of the reproductive tract, in the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes of women and in the urethra of men and women. The WHO estimates that around one percent of the world's population is infected with this bacterium. Every year there are over 100 million new infections worldwide.

Transmission

Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria that are mainly found in the semen and vaginal fluid of men and women who are infected. Gonorrhea is easily transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active can get it and pass it on.

Gonorrhea is significant because of its possible complications, such as female genital tract diseases that can lead to infertility, additional infections and neonates, and eye diseases. Gonorrhea patients are also often infected with chlamydia. Gonoorhoe continues to promote sexual transmission of HIV, and the two diseases often occur together.

Symptoms usually appear two to fourteen days after infection, but many people who are infected never show symptoms. Those affected are ideal carriers of the disease.

Gonorrhea symptoms in women

The early signs of gonorrhea are usually difficult to identify. Men are more likely to show clear symptoms than women. Half of the women who develop gonorrhea symptoms have abnormal vaginal discharge and around 25 percent complain of genital pain. Less common symptoms of gonorrhea are painful urination and increased bleeding during the period. The discharge often has an unusual consistency, sometimes it is creamy, sometimes it reminds of blood or is even greenish.

Gonorrhea symptoms in men

More than three quarters of men with gonorhea show symptoms, making it easier to spot the infection. Although the ailments disappear on their own after a few weeks, the infection remains in the organism and can cause further damage to the body. The first symptoms may appear one week after transmission, namely:

  • Burning pain when peeing,
  • white discharge from the penis,
  • Redness and swelling of the urethral mouth,
  • increased urge to urinate,
  • dull pain in the bladder area,
  • Anus pain (if the anal area is infected).

Gonorrhea in babies

The infection can be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. Newborns show symptoms in their eyes for the first few weeks. These swell, turn red and have a mushy discharge.

Prevention of gonorrhea

Any form of unprotected sex with an infected partner can lead to transmission. This also includes certain sexual practices such as anal sex or oral sex. Frequent unprotected sexual contact with changing partners increases the risk of gonorrhea. In addition, you should avoid sharing clothes and towels with an infected person, because their shared use may also be contagious.

Naturopathy for gonorrhea

Eating fruit cleanses the blood, as does vegetables, either raw or as juice. Bananas and potatoes should be avoided. However, papayas, wild apples and melons are known as natural remedies for gonorhea. Other forms of naturopathy such as acupuncture do not help directly against gonorhea, but they strengthen the immune system so that it is better equipped to fight the bacteria.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a variant of the herpes virus (HSV), in which painful blisters occur in the genital region. Type 1 HSV usually causes feverish blisters in the mouth or face, while Type 2 HSV typically occurs on the genitals.

Herpes viruses last a lifetime

Mostly herpes viruses are inactive and cause no symptoms, but a weakened immune system can lead to outbreaks. Once infected with HSV, the virus remains in the body for a lifetime.

Herpes transmission

Both types of viruses can be transmitted through direct contact, i.e. skin-to-skin touching, kissing and anal, oral or vaginal sex. The first symptoms can appear after two to fourteen days, sometimes they show up years after infection. Some people never show symptoms. Often these people do not even know that they are infected with genital herpes, but they can transmit the infection.

Genital herpes symptoms of an initial infection

Symptoms can vary from person to person. A newly caught herpes infection is often manifested by the following symptoms, which usually last for one to two weeks:

  • Red spots on the genitals, rectum and anus opening,
  • Blistering with yellowish liquid,
  • painful swelling of the surrounding lymph nodes,
  • Fever,
  • burning pain on the skin,
  • itchy rash on the infected area,
  • Nerve pain in the leg.

More outbreaks

After the first outbreak, the symptoms disappear and the virus becomes inactive. It stays in the nervous system and can reactivate months or years later, mostly in the same place where it first appeared. Often, further outbreaks occur in connection with stress, fever and other diseases, as well as in women during menstruation. Over time, there is less and less outbreak, the symptoms become milder and therefore often go undetected.

Herpes and pregnancy

Herpes does not affect male and female fertility. If a woman is infected with the virus immediately before pregnancy, there is very little risk that the disease will spread to the baby. If there is an initial infection in the last ten to twelve weeks of pregnancy, the baby may become infected during childbirth. This risk can be avoided by giving birth by caesarean section.

HIV

HIV is a virus and stands for Human Immunodeficiency. The virus only infects humans and closely related primates. Our immune system usually protects the body from viruses. In the case of HIV, however, the virus directly attacks the immune system, which is unable to ward off and destroy HIV.

HIV transmission

The HIV viruses are primarily found in the semen, in the blood and in the vaginal and wound secretions. The most common way of transmission is unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse. Oral sex also has a low risk of infection. Furthermore, direct blood-to-blood contact, such as when sharing cannulas with drug addicts, is associated with a high risk of infection.

Transfer from mother to child

There is a risk that infected pregnant women may transmit the virus to the unborn child or during childbirth during pregnancy. Infection through breast milk after birth is also possible.

No general risk of infection

In addition to the transmission routes described, there is no risk of infection in everyday life. It is harmless to live, work, eat and share the sanitary facilities with an infected person. There is no risk of transmission from coughing or sneezing or from ordinary physical contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands or drinking from the same vessels.

Increased risk of infection

The virus often gets into the body through minor injuries. Those who suffer from other sexual diseases such as syphillis, herpes, chlamydia, gonnorhoe or vaginal inflammation are at greater risk of becoming infected with HIV during unprotected sexual intercourse.

HIV symptoms

The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the degree of infection. The onset of infection can be symptom-free, but flu-like symptoms can also occur. These include, for example:

  • Fever,
  • A headache,
  • Body aches,
  • swollen lymph nodes,
  • Weight loss,
  • Diarrhea,
  • To cough.

The long latent period

After the first phase, when the immune system tries unsuccessfully to fight the virus, the symptoms disappear. The HIV infection now goes into the second phase, which consists of a long symptom-free period. In this latent period, many sufferers do not know that they are infected and transmit the infection to others. This period can last for ten years or more.

What happens in the body of an HIV infected person?

During the second phase, HIV slowly kills white blood cells, destroying the immune system. Blood tests during this phase show the loss. Usually a human has between 450 and 1400 of these cells per microliter. This number changes constantly, depending on the constitution of the person. With HIV infection, the number of white blood cells decreases continuously and makes people susceptible to other infections. In addition, there is an increasing risk that the advanced phase of AIDS will be initiated.

HIV treatment

Treatment with anti-HIV drugs prevents HIV from multiplying and destroying the immune system. This protects the body from life-threatening infections and cancer and prevents HIV from spreading to AIDS.

AIDS

The term AIDS describes the most advanced stages of HIV infection. People whose infections are treated early do not develop this stage. AIDS is a general term that includes various diseases that result from a very weakened immune system.

AIDS equals death?

A few decades ago, medicine was powerless against this virus. This is no longer the case. AIDS or HIV is no longer synonymous with an imminent death. With the right treatment and care, many people with AIDS can recover from the resulting diseases and live long lives.

HIV equals AIDS?

HIV and AIDS are not the same. In the past, most HIV infections ended in the AIDS phase. This phase is largely avoidable through today's HIV therapy. Even people who do not receive treatment usually have a window of several years before AIDS develops. It takes a long time for the immune deficiency to reach a level that allows secondary diseases to enter unprotected.

Terminal AIDS

In the final stages of AIDS, the HIV virus has damaged the immune system to such an extent that the body can no longer ward off infections. As a result, people with advanced AIDS develop repeated infections of the same type, particularly pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic herpes, toxoplasmosis or meningitis.

Increased risk of cancer

The immune system is also involved in the defense against certain types of cancer. When the immune system breaks down in the late stages of AIDS, the cancer occurs more often. The risk of getting cancer in the bowels, lungs and skin increases, as does the likelihood of developing lymph node cancer.

Vaginal yeast infections

The Candida mushroom usually lives in small amounts in the vagina. A fungal infection means that these fungal cells multiply and cause intense itching, swelling and discomfort. Candida infections mostly affect women who still have their period. They are less common in the postmenopausal period, at least when hormone therapies are not being followed. And they are rare in girls who have not yet had menstruation.

Vaginal thrush symptoms

The most common symptoms are itching and vaginal discharge. The latter is often chewy, white and creamy - almost like shepherd's cheese. Other symptoms include burning and reddening of the vagina, sometimes the labia swell. Some women have pain when urinating. Sex can also cause pain because the inflamed vagina is irritated. A more detailed description of this clinical picture as well as treatment options and home remedies can be found in the article Vaginal Mushroom (Vaginal Mycosis) - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the unicellular parasite Trichomonas vaginalis and can affect men as well as women. However, the symptoms differ between the sexes. The vagina is usually infected in women, and the urinary tract is particularly affected in men. The parasite is usually transmitted through sex with an infected partner.

Trichomoniasis symptoms

The symptoms usually appear five to 28 days after the infection. The signs of trichommoniasis include vaginal inflammation in the woman with malodorous, yellowish-foamy discharge, burning, itching and pain during sexual intercourse. If the urinary tract is infected, pain may occur in men and women when urinating, as well as frequent urge to urinate. Men may occasionally experience a tingling sensation inside the penis.

Infections during pregnancy

Infections with Trichomonas vaginalis during pregnancy can cause premature birth, which can lead to poor health of the newborn. Infested babies need intensive care in the first few weeks, stay in the hospital for a long time and often suffer from a long-term disability in the nervous system. In addition, pregnant women with trichomoniasis are at increased risk of tearing membranes before birth, which can lead to a low weight of the newborn.

Naturopathic prevention

Various herbs strengthen the immune system against the parasites. The most recommended herbal remedies here are garlic and tea tree oil.

Pelvic inflammation

Pelvic inflammation affects the woman's upper genital tract. These include the uterus, ovaries and the neighboring regions of the pelvis. You can also expand to the abdomen. If the ovaries are affected, deformities can occur, which can lead to infertility.

Pelvic inflammation contagion

Different bacteria cause pelvic inflammation, including the same that trigger gonorrhea and chlamydia. The bacteria usually reach the vagina first, causing inflammation. If treatment is not done in time or if the immune system does not switch off the infection on its own, it can spread to the organs of the pelvis over time.

Increased risk of infection

Sexually active women in the childbearing years are most at risk, and those under 25 are more at risk than the older. During menstruation, women have an increased risk of infection. Likewise, women who often sex with different partners without a condom are at increased risk of infection.

Pelvic inflammation symptoms

A pelvic infection is often difficult to diagnose because even when the symptoms appear, they are easily confused with signs of a number of other diseases. Complaints include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen (lower abdominal pain),
  • Fever,
  • Exhaustion,
  • vaginal discharge,
  • painful bleeding after sex,
  • irregular menstrual bleeding.

Syphilis (syphilis)

Syphilis has largely disappeared from people's consciousness. However, this disease has not yet been overcome. In 2015, according to the Robert Koch Institute, 6,834 people in Germany became infected with the Treponema pallidum bacterium. Even today, syphilis can cause permanent damage, and in extreme cases it can even be life-threatening. Recognized in the early stages, it can be treated effectively.

Syphilis contagion

In most cases, the pathogens enter the organism through vaginal or oral intercourse and penetrate through minor injuries. Experts speak of a 60 percent chance of getting infected with an infected person in unprotected traffic.

Syphilis symptoms

The first symptoms only appear several weeks after the infection. An ulcer first forms, often where the bacteria have invaded. This is often the case on the genitals or mouth. After the ulcers have healed, those affected cannot be considered healed. The pathogen spreads throughout the body. Rashes and fever then appear in the second phase of the disease. If the pathogens remain in the body, severe tissue damage in the brain and spinal cord can occur, the so-called neurosyphilis.

Syphilis treatment

With the discovery of penicillin, syphilis became curable. Detected early, a penicillin injection is usually sufficient to contain the disease and kill the bacteria.

HPV / papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the most common virus-related sexual diseases. About 25 percent of women under the age of 30 are infected with HPV viruses. In women over 30 years old, the figure is still around eight percent. There are no numbers in men due to a lack of routine examinations. However, experts assume a 70 percent probability that the respective sexual partner is also infected.

HPV symptoms

Typical symptoms are genital warts, also known as genital warts or pointed condylomas. Certain high-risk types of papilloma viruses can cause cell changes that are associated with an increased risk of later cancers such as cervical cancer. Men, in particular, often do not know that they are carriers of the virus, since they often only cause small lesions on the penis.

Prevention of sexual diseases

The following applies to all venereal diseases: safe sex, the use of condoms and hygiene in the genital area are good means of preventing sexually transmitted infections. Condoms in particular can massively reduce the risk of most sexual diseases. Proper use is of course a requirement.

To keep the condom intact during sex, additional lubricants should be used for dry vagina or anal sex. These should only be applied after the condom has a firm fit on the erect limb. After the sexual act, the condom should be held when pulling out, if possible before the limb slackens. (Somayeh Ranjbar, vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Swell:

  • Merck & Co., Inc .: Overview of sexually transmitted diseases (accessed: August 26, 2019), msdmanuals.com
  • Federal Ministry of Health: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) (accessed: 26.08.2019), bundesgesundheitsministerium.de
  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI): Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) (accessed: August 26, 2019), rki.de
  • Professional Association of Gynecologists (BVF): Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Safe Sex (accessed: August 26, 2019), Frauenaerzte-im-netz.de
  • German STI-Gesellschaft e.V.
  • Deutsche Aidshilfe e.V .: STDs (accessed: August 26, 2019), aidshilfe.de
  • Austria's public health portal: Sexually transmitted diseases (available on August 26, 2019), gesundheit.gv.at
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (access: 26.08.2019), who.int
  • Peter J. Katsufrakis, MD, MBA; Kimberly A. Workowski, MD: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine, Chapter 14, New York, N.Y .: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2011, accessmedicine.mhmedical.com
  • Mayo Clinic: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (access: August 26, 2019), mayoclinic.org


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