Sexually transmitted diseases

Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Genital herpes, Trichomoniasis, Chlamydiosis, Genital warts, Chancroid, hepatitis-B, AIDS, etc are major sexually transmitted diseases. Check out this article to know about these diseases, symptoms of diseases, treatment and the methods to prevent STDs.


Infectious diseases, whose causative organisms are spread by contact during sexual intercourse, are called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or venereal diseases or reproductive tract infection. For examples Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Genital herpes, Trichomoniasis, Chlamydiosis, Genital warts, Chancroid, hepatitis-B, Aids, etc. Today STDs are found to be a major threat to a healthy society. Therefore its prevention and early detection is very necessary and are given prime consideration under the reproductive health care programs. The incidence of this kind of a disease is very high among the persons in the age group of 15-24 years. If proper and timely treatment is not given it can lead to pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID), abortions, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancies, infertility and cancer of the reproductive tract. The different STDs are given below:


Gonorrhoea is an acute infectious, sexually transmitted disease of the mucous membrane of the genitourinary tract, eye, rectum and throat. Gonorrhoea is caused by gram-negative, oxidase positive, diplococcus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae . Gonorrhoea is referred as gonococci. The bacterium lives in genital tubes urethra and causes acute urethritis in both the sexes. From here the disease may spread to the other parts of the reproductive system. Their incubation period is about 2 to 10 days. Inside the reproductive tract, the gonococci attach to the microvilli of mucosal cells by the pile. This attachment prevents the bacteria from being washed away by normal vaginal discharges or by the strong flow of urine. The bacteria then transported to intracellular spaces and subepithelial tissue. In the male, the incubation period is 2-8 days and followed by urethral discharge of yellow, creamy pus, painful urination with the burning sensation. In females gonococci infect the uterine tubes and surrounding tissues, leading pelvic inflammatory disease. PID is a major cause of sterility and ectopic pregnancies.
Treatment: There are four treatments which are considered by the centres for diseases control and prevention:

  1. Penicillin plus Probenecid

  2. Ampicillin plus Probenecid

  3. Ceftriaxone or ofloxacin plus doxycycline for 7 days.

  4. Spectinomycin


Syphilis is also a sexually transmitted disease which is spread through sexual contact. It is caused by a spirochete called Treponema pallidum with incubation period of 10 days to 6 weeks. Congenital syphilis is the disease acquired in utero from the mother. It enters the body through a mucous membrane or minor cut in the skin, then migrates to lymph nodes and rapidly spreads throughout the body. Syphilis occurs in three recognizable stages:
  1. Primary stage : begins as the bacteria cross the mucous epithelium and enter the lymphatics and bloodstream. The incubation period is about 10 days to 3 weeks. The initial symptom is a small painless, reddened ulcer with a hard ridge that appears at the site of infection.
  2. Secondary stage : Appears roughly 6 weeks later. It is characterized by reddish skin rash accompanied by fever, headaches and uneasiness. In a few instants more serious complication such as meningitis, hepatitis or arthritis may develop. Losses of patches of hair, malaise are also seen during this period.
  3. Tertiary or Latent stage : The individual then enters the latent phase. During this period the disease is not normally infectious, except for possible transmission from mother to foetus. The most severe symptoms of tertiary syphilis result in tissue loss that can lead to mental retardation, blindness, a shuffle walk or insanity.

Treatment: Diagnosis is made from serological test. The disease is then treated as follows:
  1. For a long time, organic arsenical compounds are used for the treatment of syphilis.

  2. Administration of massive doses of Penicillin or its antibiotic relatives.

  3. Administration of cephaloridine. It is a highly effective drug for the treatment of syphilis.

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is a viral disease, which is caused by Herpes simplex virus and is spread through sexual contact. In Genital Herpes painful pustules are formed on the male and female reproductive organs. Symptoms are more severe in females. There is fever, itching, headache, vaginal urethral discharge with the selling of lymph nodes. The disease is detected by antigen detection, PCR and nucleic acid hybridization techniques.
Treatment: Acyclovir, valacyclovir or famciclovir are used for the treatment of disease in the early stage but there is no care of this disease in the chronic stage.


Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a protozoan parasite called . it is a pear-shaped flagellated protozoan. It infects both males and females. But women are more sensitive to this disease. In males, it causes urethritis, epididymitis and prostatitis, which results in pain and burning sensation. In females, it causes vaginitis with foul-smelling, yellowish vaginal discharge and burning sensation.
Treatment: The administration of metronidazole is the standard treatment but both the partners are treated simultaneously.


Chlamydiosis is caused by an obligate intracellular pathogen called Chlamydia trachomatis . It causes urethritis, epididymitis, cervicitis, inflammation of fallopian tubes, proctitis and Lymphogranuloma venereum .
Treatment: Treatment consists of administration fo erythromycin, tetracycline, doxycycline, azithromycin course.

Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS

AIDS is also a sexually transmitted disease which is caused by Human immune deficiency virus or HIV. HIV is retrovirus which attacks helper –T cells of the immune system. AIDS was first reported in 1981and got spread all over the world within 25 years. In India, AIDS infection was first reported in 1986 in Chennai in a prostitute. AIDS is diagnosed through an ELISA test or Western blotting test.

Prevention of STDs

Prevention and proper treatment of STDs are necessary for a healthy society. Normally, people of all age groups are prone to the infections of STDs, but it is more common between the age of 15 to 24. For the control and prevention of these diseases, the following general rules must be followed:
  • Do not establish a sexual relationship with an unknown partner or multiple partners.

  • Safer sex practices such as the use of condoms.

  • If there is any doubt of infection, immediately consult a physician and in case of infection, follow the complete treatment plan.

  • Circumcision in males may be effective to prevent some infections.

  • Some vaccinations may also decrease the risk of certain infections including hepatitis B and some types of human papillomavirus.

  • One must be aware of common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • For injection, clean and disinfected syringes should be used.

  • If necessary, the diagnostic test should be conducted.

Note: The name of medicines provided in this article is for knowledge purpose only. You should take any medicine only after consulting your physician.


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