Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are spread from one partner to another through sexual contact. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States estimates that nearly 15 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in this country. The biggest risk group is young people aged 16-24.

Most of these diseases can be treated easily. However, when neglected, they can cause a serious infection called pelvic infection, especially in young women, that involves the ovaries and uterine ducts. As a result, infertility, and sometimes a problem that requires hospitalization for days and/or surgery may arise.

We know that some types of virus in Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, the most common sexually transmitted infection, are associated with cervical cancer, anal cancer, vagina and external genital area (vulva) cancers, and mouth and throat region cancers.

Syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS and Hepatitis can sometimes result in death. Sexual contact should not be perceived as only sexual intercourse. Kissing, oral, anal contacts and some sex toys (such as vibrators) play a role in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms can be very effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. While these objects prevent the spread of HIV and gonorrhea, they have little protective effect against HPV, chlamydia and herpes.

Chlamydia Infections

Chlamydia microbe is an intracellular pathogen. It is transmitted vaginally, anally and orally. It does not cause any complaints in 75% of women and 25% of men. It is manifested by vaginal/penile discharge and burning while urinating. Untreated, it can lead to pelvic infection in women and associated infertility, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic pain that does not respond to treatment. In men, it causes epididymitis and inflammation in testicles; however it can also cause infertility. People who have been exposed to this infection have a high propensity to get the HIV virus. If it infects a newborn during childbirth, it can cause severe pneumonia and eye infections.

Condom reduces the transmission of chlamydial infection but does not prevent it completely.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection. It is transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex. Sometimes it does not cause any symptoms, however complaints may start within 2 to 10 days after transmission. It is manifested by discharge and burning in the penis, vagina or anus and has symptoms such as itching and mild burning when urinating. There is antibiotic treatment, but the fact that the infection has been treated does not prevent complications. For example, if it has involved the fallopian tubes, damage may occur despite treatment. It can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic infection due to damage to the tubes. In men, it can block the sperm ducts and result in infertility.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Hepatitis B is an infection caused by the hepatitis virus and can lead to liver damage. It can be transmitted through sexual contact and body secretions. It can also spread with use of infected syringes, dental instruments, blood and blood products from an infected person. It does not cause any symptoms in one third of the infected people. If any symptoms appear, they are manifested by headache, fever, muscle pain, weakness, loss of appetite and nausea. If liver damage has occurred, dark urine, abdominal pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes are observed. There is no specific treatment. Most people recover spontaneously in 4-8 weeks and immunity occurs. In some patients however, the infection continues and becomes chronic. Cirrhosis and liver cancer due to liver damage can be seen in people who are chronically infected. Newborn baby of a mother with a chronic infection must be given immunoglobulin serum and hepatitis vaccine for protection. In our country, hepatitis vaccine is routinely administered to all newborns who are not at risk to protect babies from hepatitis.

HIV (AIDS)

It is caused by the HIV virus. It is transmitted through vaginal, oral and especially anal sex. In addition, infected syringes, blood and blood products can transmit the virus. It can also spread to baby in the womb, at birth and through breast milk. Besides, opportunistic infections and tumors may accompany the HIV virus, as it damages the white blood cells that provide body immunity. Death is due to opportunistic infections caused by immune suppression rather than virus infection. In approximately 20-30% of pregnant women with AIDS, newborns also have AIDS and unfortunately die in the first 18 months. There is still no definitive cure for AIDS. Existing treatments serve to strengthen the body’s immune system.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a virus infection. Herpes virus type 1 (HSV-1) is usually seen on the lips and is called herpes or cold sores. However, it can also be transmitted by contact during oral sex. Herpes Type 2 is transmitted through the contact of the skin, which has an active infection in the genital area, through vaginal, anal or oral sex. After the contagion, itching and burning occurs in the genital area, and then small puffiness similar to acne develops. After the pimples burst, it becomes an open wound and this heals spontaneously in a few weeks. Treatment of HSV-2 is done with antiviral medication. It is taken orally in the form of tablets, but there are also local cream forms. It is more likely for people with open wounds to spread the AIDS virus. If the infected person is pregnant, she must give birth by cesarean. If the virus is transmitted to the newborn during childbirth, it will cause severe infection and brain damage. It can have a course with frequent recurrences. Treatment regimens will vary accordingly.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV is a small, unsheathed, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) virus that has an affinity for epithelial surfaces in tissues (epitheliotropic). It belongs to the family of papillomaviridia viruses. It is called “Human” Papillomavirus because it is unique to the human species. It is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Recently, there has been a marked increase in the frequency of infections caused by HPV. All over the world, anogenital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Like all sexually transmitted diseases, HPV infection peaks in the first decade after the first sexual intercourse, typically between the ages of 15 and 25. While the probability of a woman being exposed to HPV at least once during her life is 85%, this rate is 91% for men. As the number of different sexual partners increases, HPV transmission probability also increases, and as the number of partners decreases, the chances of transmission diminishes.

It is most commonly manifested as condyloma (genital wart) in the genital area. In population studies in developed countries such as the United States and Scandinavian countries, the prevalence of genital warts in sexually active individuals ranges from 1-10%. In a survey study conducted in 81 provinces in our country, the annual prevalence of genital warts in women between the ages of 30-65 was found to be 154/100.000.

In addition to the wart, it also causes female genital cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers) and oropharyngeal cancers (mouth, throat, larynx cancers).

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection. After the discovery of penicillin, syphilis was almost eradicated in our country. But the spread of foreign prostitutes and unprotected sex has increased the prevalence of syphilis in our country. It is transmitted through sex, however contact with however contact with syphilitic sores is also a common form of transmission. During the primary stage, syphilis is manifested with a small round sore called painless chancre. If left untreated, rash, fever, malaise, hair loss, and diffuse swelling in the body occur. In the last stage, nerve and brain damage called neurosyphilis is seen. Its treatment is possible with penicillin. However, if it is detected in the late stage, despite the completion of the treatment, sequelae of the disease do not recover. In untreated people, severe damage occurs to the heart, eyes, brain, joints and bones and may progress to death. If syphilis is not treated during pregnancy, infant mortality in the womb is about 25%. In 40-70% of pregnant women with untreated syphilis, active syphilis is detected in the newborn. If the diagnosis cannot be made, deaths due to damage to the heart, eyes and brain are not uncommon.

Trichomonas Vaginalis

Trichomonas is a single-celled living creature (protozoa). It can spread through sexual contact, can be found in bath towels and clothes as well and can also be transmitted by wearing them. It is manifested with a yellow-green and foamy vaginal discharge. A foul smell occurs. There may be burning and itching in the vagina and urinary tract. Although men may have a rash on the penis, they usually do not show symptoms. Antibiotics are used in treatment. The important point is the treatment of both partners at the same time. Failure to treat trichomoniasis during pregnancy causes inflammation of the amniotic membrane, and this can lead to rupture of the membranes and premature birth.


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