Sexually transmitted diseases (STD): Red flags

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a risk for the entire population. Although there are higher-risk social groups, no one, regardless of their age, sex, sentimental situation or social status, is exempt. Yes, STDs are considered a pandemic in most countries of the world, including Spain.

It is estimated that approximately 25% of sexually active young people suffer from an STD. Despite their name, STDs are not always contagious or sexually transmitted.

How to avoid the spread of STDs

Young people are specially exposed to STDs. An important number of young people have more than one sexual partner, therefore having a thorough knowledge of diseases and not underestimating their risks, along with the use of condoms, are the most effective methods to avoid the spread STDs.

However, no method is infallible, and it is possible to have a sexually transmitted disease which does not present any symptoms.

This is why regular gynecological exams are so important. The ob/gyn will diagnose, rule out or treat these conditions whether they are symptomatic or not. When in doubt, we strongly recommend visiting your trusted specialist, since the absence of treatment, in some cases, may increase the risk of contracting other more complex STDs, such as HIV, or even derive in infertility.

Most common STDs that are usually asymptomatic

  • Chlamydia (asymptomatic in 90% of cases).
  • Hepatitis B (70% of cases).
  • Gonorrhea (4 out of 5 women are unaware of their diagnosis).

These are the most common asymptomatic sexually transmitted diseases, although most present no symptoms in the early stages. Their transmission is therefore simple, fast and practically unstoppable.

When symptoms do occur, these are the most frequent:

Symptoms of the most common sexually transmitted diseases

These are the signs that show the most common STDs in women:

Vulvovaginitis

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

  • Inflammation, redness and itching both on the vulva and around the vagina.
  • Abundant vaginal discharge, dense and yellowish, sometimes, with an intense smell.
  • Stinging when urinating.
  • Dyspareunia or discomfort during sex.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.

Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis

  • Itching or itching and burning in the vulvovaginal area.
  • Discomfort during sex or when urinating.
  • Thick, whitish and odorless vaginal discharge.

These symptoms usually become more intense before menstruation and decrease during it.

Symptoms of vaginosis

  • White-grayish and malodorous discharge which becomes more intense after intercourse.

Symptoms of gonococcal or gonorrhea

  • Urinary discomfort and altered vaginal discharge.

However they are often asymptomatic, until complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) appear.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

  • It is usually asymptomatic, but it can cause damage to the genital tract that affects a woman’s fertility as a result of cervicitis -inflammation of the cervix- or PID.

Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Lower belly and pelvis pain, especially during sexual intercourse.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge and unpleasant odor.
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding between cycles or during and after intercourse.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Discomfort when urinating.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

Some people have no symptoms during the first four months.

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Fever.
  • Joint pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice).

Symptoms of syphilis

When latent:

  • Asymptomatic

First stage:

  • Sores in genitals, anus or mouth, which quickly ulcerate and highly contagious, although painless.

2nd stage:

  • Skin rash.
  • Ulcers in mouth, vagina or anus.
  • Hard red or brownish-red spots on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet, among other areas of the body. They do not itch.

3rd stage:

  • Cardiac, neurological, ophthalmic and auditory lesions.

Symptoms of genital herpes

Primary vulvovaginitis

7 to 10 days after infection

  • Fever
  • General discomfort
  • Generalized muscle pain

Between the 2nd and the 3rd week of infection

  • inflammation of a painful inguinal ganglion can occasionally occur.
  • Discomfort pain while urinating.

10 to 20 days after infection

  • Ulcers.

Latent stage

  • Asymptomatic

An altered immune state or a weakening of the defensive system caused by emotional or physical factors or stress can reactivate the disease.

Non-primary or recurrent vulvovaginitis

Same symptoms as in vulvovaginitis but more benign and less lasting.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Symptoms

  • Condylomata acuminata, warts or pink lesions in the genital area that can be asymptomatic or cause pain or itching.
  • Asymptomatic precancerous cervical lesions in most cases.

HIV or AIDS -Symptoms

During the first days.

  • Asymptomatic.

First weeks

  • Symptoms similar to those of a flu (fever, headache, tiredness and swollen lymph nodes in your neck or groin).

Advanced stages

  • Severely weakened immune system.
  • Severe weight loss.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Prolonged inflammation of the lymphatic glands.
  • Purple spots on the skin.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Sores in mouth, anus or genitals.
  • Memory loss.
  • Depression and other neurological disorders.

AIDS is also associated to conditions such as infections, heart, kidney or liver diseases and cancer.

We hope this article has been useful for you. You will find further information at the website of the Unidad de la Mujer. You can also contact us at the number (+34) 917 303 673

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