Sexually transmitted diseases (venereal) include all infectious diseases transmitted primarily through sexual activities (sexual, oral or anal). In some cases, infections can occur in non-sexual ways (mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy or birth, an infected needle or in rare cases, via blood transfusion).
Sources of infection
Currently, there are more than 20 known diseases and a large portion of them can have a severe impact on an infected individual's health. Sources of infection can be viral in nature (genital herpes, genital warts, HIV/AIDS), bacterial (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) or parasitic (trichomoniasis or pubic lice).
Symptoms of the diseases
The symptoms vary in nature and range from irregular mild periods/bleeding and discharges all the way to the formation of various warts, lumps or swollen lymph nodes. It is not uncommon for the onset of the infection to be symptom-free. Alternatively, symptoms are non-specific and often disappear quickly. Infectious agents (viruses, bacteria or parasites) however continue surviving within the human organism, breed and in later stages cause the occurrence of secondary symptoms which may include rashes, increased body temperature, muscle and joint pain or issues of a similar nature.
When to seek medical help
In the event of any suspicion of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to quickly carry out a gynecology, urology or dermatovenerology examination as required. To confirm that an infection is present, there are various tests that can be carried out (blood/urine samples or a cervical swab) depending on the disease origin. Timely diagnosis of the diseases contributes significantly towards limiting the negative impact on the health of the infected individual. It also helps prevent the disease from spreading among the general population. Some of these infectious diseases require mandatory reporting to the Czech Register of Venereal Disease. At the same time, it is important to mention that knowingly spreading a sexually transmitted diseases is considered a criminal offence.
Treating sexually transmitted diseases
Most sexually transmitted diseases can be treated with antibiotics, usually only requiring one treatment batch. It is important to stress however that some sexually transmitted diseases are showing increasing resistance of the bacteria to antibiotic treatment (antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains). In addition to this, when we consider the fact that some other diseases are incurable despite medical progress (HIV for example), the best form of prevention from STDs is to follow rules of safe sex.
When you suspect an STD
Did you have unprotected sex and suspect that the sexually transmitted disease has already developed? Immediately book an appointment at the dermatovenerology department, your general practitioner, gynecologist or urologist. For your own and other people's protection, you should ensure sexual abstinence until your fears were confirmed or proven to be false. By visiting a doctor, any potential disease can be treated in a timely manner and the risk of transmitting the disease to your sex partner is significantly lowered.
The venereology department focuses on the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of sexually transmitted disease as well as serious venereal diseases which require mandatory registration with the authorities. These include gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. Patients are examined directly at the practice and if required, they are then sent for the necessary blood tests.
Do not underestimate prevention
Young people belong to the highest risk group and should therefore be increasingly aware of sexually transmitted diseases. Such awareness should be provided to these people at schools as well as by their own parents. The simplest and most effective form of prevention is to always ensure safe sex (use protection).
Basic rules to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease
- Do not have sexual intercourse. The risk of contracting an STD is virtually non-existent.
- Limit the number of sexual partners. The best protection is a long-term monogamous relationship, i.e. a relationship without any affairs.
- Know your partner and their sexual past, including the number of previous partners or any sexually transmitted diseases they may have had.
- Do not be afraid to examine your partner in detail, including their intimate areas prior to engaging in any sexual activity. Let you partner know in case you notice any unusual discharge, small ulcers, rash or swelling.
- Always use a condom. The correct usage of latex-based condoms with spermicide significantly lowers the risk of contracting any sexually transmitted disease (as well as unplanned pregnancies).