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The Effects of STIs

Sexually transmitted infections are no joke. They are a serious health issue that should be treated as such. As a matter of fact, the percentage of sexually active people who get infected by an STI at some point in their lives is incredibly high. While the focus should always be prevention (use condoms!) there are a lot of cases where this advice could be too late.

So you test yourself as often as it is recommended because many people who have them are not aware of it; you should go to your doctor to discuss treatment and should definitely warn all your lovers (past and new!) because they may also be at risk. Because, what are the effects of the most common sexually transmitted infections?

Chlamydia: Chlamydia is one of the most common STI’s because it is one of the easiest diseases to be transmitted among people. This STI is actually transmitted by a bacteria (chlamydia trachomatis) that spreads after having unprotected vaginal, anal or even oral sex. It is often left untreated because in many cases there are no symptoms.

  • Short term impact: When it shows symptoms, this infection causes pain and discomfort. In women it can lead to pain during sex and a burning sensation when you are peeing. Besides, abnormal vaginal discharge is common. Women could also experience pain in their lower abdomen and on their lower back.
    For men, abnormal penile discharge is common, just as well genital burning, itching and pain in the testes. After the first weeks of infection, some men also experience SARA, which is an arthritis that inflames the joints and causes inflammation of the eyes.
    For both men and women who get infected with anal sex, they could have bleeding, discharge and pain in the rectum.
  • Long term effects: The main effect of chlamydia in the long term is damage to reproductive system in both men and women. As a matter of fact, this infection is one of the principal causes of infertility around the world.
    In women, the infection can spread all the way to the uterus and fallopian tubes; it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. If left untreated, chlamydia can create a lot of pelvic pain and it could also cause infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.
    In men, the infection can spread to the testicles. As a result, the testes become swollen and painful in a condition called epididymitis. There is some research that shows untreated chlamydia increases the risk of contracting and spreading HIV.

Genital warts: Genital warts are warts in the genital regions, but sometimes they can spread to other areas. Genital warts are probably the most common infection; they are a result of two strains of HPV. Around 80% of the population contracts one of the 100 strains at some point in their lives.

  • Short term impact: The warts are usually very close together and vary in size.
    In women, they appear on the vulva and around the vaginal opening. The warts can also appear inside the vagina, the cervix and the rectum.
    In men, they appear on the tip of the penis and the anus. Sometimes the warts can occur in the urethra and the scrotum.
  • Long term impact: While the warts are itchy and painful, they tend to be harmless; genital warts have not been linked to any infertility or other health risks.
    However, in women the majority of cervical cancer can be caused by HPV, so they should be more careful and get pap smears in their check ups.

Gonorrhea: This infection is caused by a bacteria and usually the symptoms are more present in men. In both sexes rectal infections can cause bleeding, discharge, itching and painful bowel movements. The effects usually present themselves after two weeks.

  • Short term impact: Only about 50% of women experience symptoms; pain while peeing, irregular periods and more vaginal discharge are common.
    Men tend to experience pain while urinating, penile discharge and swollen testicles.
  • Long term impact: The long term effects are similar to those of chlamydia.
    In women, untreated gonorrhea can cause pelvic pain and infertility. Besides, the ovaries can develop abscesses and the glands that lubricate the vagina can also get infected.
    Men can develop painful infections in the testicles and prostate. Sometimes gonorrhea could also lead to infertility.
    The most dangerous effect of long term gonorrhea is the disseminated gonoccal infections. When this occurs, the infection spreads to other regions (not only genital); commonly affecting the heart, joints and skin. The most serious cases could even cause septicemia.

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