According to data from the National Institute of Health, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as venereal diseases, is increasing among young people, both males and females, especially those under 30. It is crucial not to underestimate these infections and to know how to protect oneself.
The Most Widespread Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The most common bacterial infections include:
Among viruses, the most spread include:
- Genital herpes
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Viral hepatitis
Trichomonas vaginalis is a common protozoan infection, and pubic pediculosis or crabs is a parasitic infection.
Over the past two decades, cases of STIs among young people have increased. Syphilis, for example, is the third most common STI globally, following chlamydia and gonorrhea, and its prevalence is rapidly rising.
HIV infection also persists, although there has been a slight continuous decline, especially among young adults.
The exact epidemiological trends of these diseases are difficult to monitor because many infected individuals are asymptomatic and unaware that they may be transmitting the infection to their sexual partners, even casually.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Prevention is Key
Regarding sexual activity among young people, the primary concern is often avoiding unwanted pregnancies while preventing STIs should not be underestimated. These infections pose real risks to health, fertility, and overall quality of life.
Protecting yourself during sexual intercourse means creating a barrier to safeguard your health, well-being, and your partner’s. It helps prevent the transmission of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasites responsible for infections transmitted through unprotected sex.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: How Does Infection Occur?
Infections are transmitted through sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Transmission can also occur through pre-ejaculate and vaginal secretions, as well as semen produced during ejaculation. Infection or contagion can happen through contact with genital, anal, and oral mucous membranes, saliva, or exposure to infected blood (e.g., through sharing contaminated tattoo or piercing instruments). Also, transmission can occur from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
However, there is no risk of infection or transmission from:
- Saliva droplets expelled through coughing or sneezing;
- Touching objects or using communal toilets;
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: What Are the Symptoms?
Once the body comes into contact with a pathogen (which applies to any infection), there is an incubation period during which the disease can be transmitted even without visible symptoms or manifestations.
The length of the incubation period varies depending on the specific microorganism responsible for the infection. In some cases, visible symptoms may not develop in the body.
Signs of infection can manifest not only in the genital area but also in other parts of the body, depending on the type of infection and the type of sexual intercourse practiced. For instance, lesions and signs may occur in the mouth, anus, skin, or other organs.
Key signs that require careful analysis by a doctor include:
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus visible on undergarments
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Lesions in the genital, anal, or oral regions
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation, sometimes accompanied by pain
Painful intercourse or the presence of bleeding should also not be underestimated.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: What to Do?
There is no shame in having a sexually transmitted infection; it is simply about preserving one’s health and respecting the health of sexual partners.
When in doubt, seeking medical assistance can help clarify symptoms through specific tests and samples taken with swabs (rectal, cervical or vaginal, urethral in males, or pharyngeal), as well as blood, urine, or saliva samples.
Only with an accurate diagnosis can specific therapy be initiated for symptom management and complete recovery.