STDs: What Are They?

STD is an acronym that means sexually transmitted disease. The acronym STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. An STD or STI is a disease spread amongst people through sexual contact. This can be via skin-to-skin contact or through bodily fluids like semen and blood. STDs develop from certain kinds of bacteria, parasites, and viruses that thrive in moist places. There are a variety of STDs and many can be treated by a medical professional. However, untreated STDs can cause serious health issues like infertility.

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Can STDs infect both men and women?

Yes, STDs can infect both males and females. The difference is how the STD presents itself on the male or female body. STD symptoms may include unpleasant discharge, vaginal bleeding, and burning sensations around the vagina in women. For men, STD symptoms look like swollen testicles, penis discharge, bumps on the penis, and pain during urination. Patients dealing with any of these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

How do doctors diagnose an STD?

Anyone who engages in oral, vaginal, or anal sex can catch an STD. Doctors diagnose STDs using laboratory tests. Medical professionals will collect urine, blood, and fluid samples and send the samples to a lab for further examination. Doctors will also conduct a physical examination to check for abnormalities like sores, bumps, and discolored discharge.

Are STDs incurable?

STD treatment depends on the type of disease or infection. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Viral infections can be prevented with a vaccine or treated with antiviral medication. For parasitic STDs, treatment may include an antiparasitic or antibiotic medication. For reference, syphilis is a bacterial infection and trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection. Herpes is a viral infection that has no cure. Some STDs, particularly the viral ones like HIV and herpes, have no cure.

In what ways does an STD affect male fertility?

STDs disrupt the entire reproductive system and can greatly interfere with a man’s ability to create, deliver, and store sperm. In men, STDs can impact the testes, scrotum, semen, and penis. The STD syphilis can cause epididymitis. This disease makes the coiled tube that carries and holds sperm and the testes inflamed. Syphilis can also cause erectile dysfunction. Another STD, called mycoplasma genitalia, causes urethritis in men. Urethritis occurs when the tube that carries urine through the penis becomes swollen.

Should I talk to my doctor about STDs?

Patients should speak to a physician to learn more about STDs and sperm health. Patients can also use this time to schedule STD testing to prevent or catch any STDs. Consult a healthcare provider for more information.

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