Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread primarily through person-to-person sexual contact. There are more than 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Vaginal discharge is one of the most common problem encountered by women every year. Vaginal discharge may be physiologic or normal. The normal vaginal discharge is typically clear, mucoid at the time of ovulation and then becomes thick and whitish before menstruation. It has no odor. Any change in color, odor, amount and consistency may be a sign of an ongoing vaginal infection. There are a number of causes of abnormal vaginal discharge, which may include bacteria, fungus/yeast or parasites, and the symptoms and kind of abnormal discharge depends on the causative agent of the infection. Vaginal infection is easily treated with appropriate antibiotics depending on its causative agent, and early treatment is necessary to avoid the serious but rare complications brought about by vaginal infection.
Genital ulcers are defined as any break in the skin in the genital area. Wide array of infections typically present initially as genital ulcers, which include Syphillis, Herpes, Donovanosis, Chancroid and Lymphogranuloma venereum. Among these infections, Herpes and Syphillis are the most commonly encountered today, although the rates of these infections are steadily decreasing as the advances in medical diagnosis and treatment ensues.
Syphillis is caused by Treponema pallidum and it is considered to be a chronic systematic disease. It typically begins as a painless, red, firm ulcer and then resolve spontaneously in 3-8 weeks, after which, if remained untreated, may progress to affect the different organ systems of the body including the brain.
Herpes, on the other hand, is a recurrent sexually transmitted infection caused by Herpes simplex virus which enters the body through tiny breaks in the skin. The primary herpes infection typically begins as a painful pimple-like ulcer which may become encrusted and excoriated.
Treatments of these infections are generally more difficult compared to the vaginal infections. Treatment will depend on the severity of the infection, its causative agent, the susceptibility of the causative agent to the available medical treatment, the absence or presence of any complications and the ability of the patient to comply to the treatment and for follow-up. In some cases, hospital admission for IV therapy is necessary as part of the treatment of these infections.
Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea. It is found in the urogenital tract of men and women. Neisseria gonorrhea infection can also cause urethritis (infection of the urethra), cervicitis (infection of the cervix) and pelvic inflammatory disease. Patient with gonorrhea may complain with purulent vaginal discharge, pain during urination, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and abdominal pain. Most common complication of gonorrhea is the disseminated gonoccocal infection. It presents with fever, chills, skin lesions, infertility and if left untreated, may even affect the heart, liver and the central nervous system. Treatment of gonorrhea infection usually needs more than a single antibiotic.
Chlamydia is also known as a silent infection. It may or may not cause any symptoms, and in some cases, Chlamydia is only diagnosed when complications arise. One of the most common manifestation of Chlamydia is mucopurulent vaginal discharge. It is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, and its primary method of transmission is by sexual contact. Among the complications arising from untreated Chlamydia infection is infertility, that’s why diagnosis and treatment of this infection is very important. Chlamydia is easily treated with the appropriate antibiotics.
It is important to note that treatment of the current and past sexual partners of the patient is also necessary in the treatment of these kind of infections to avoid re-infections or recurrent infections which in the future can lead to resistant cases of the respective infections.