Knowledge Center

Sexually transmitted disease

What does STD mean?

STD is a short for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and is an umbrella term for various infections caused by different pathogenic microorganisms, which are transmitted from person to person via sexual intercourse. Under sexual intercourse we mean all contact of genitalia with a mucous membrane of the sexual partner (such as the genital areas, the mouth and the anus). Thus it is possible to contract STDs through oral, anal or vaginal sex with an infected partner.

Who can catch a sexually transmitted disease?

This problem might concern anyone who has an active sex life, but the risk of infection is of course is highly variable. The more partners someone has either at the same time or consecutively, and the more often they have unprotected sex, the higher the risk of getting infected.

How many times can I get infected?

Unlike some contagious illnesses, where getting over the infection ensures long-lasting immunity, contracting and then being healed from sexually transmitted diseases provides no immunity for the infected person. This means that it is possible to catch the same disease over and over again. It is worth knowing that more than 30 pathogenic organisms can be transmitted sexually, and it is not rare to get infected with more than one type of disease during a single intercourse.

How will I know if I am infected?

A range of illnesses may be transmitted with sexual intercourse, all with different signs and symptoms. Their incubation period varies: some cause symptoms within several hours of having had sex, some come out within days or weeks, while other infections may take months to cause noticeable effects.

If the infection is mostly limited to the genitals, the symptoms may include abnormal penile or vaginal discharge, sores, blisters, various growths, pain and itching. But there are other infections which cause symptoms on various other parts of the body such as skin eruptions, fever, lymph node swelling, sometimes diarrhoea, vomiting and jaundice. It may also happen that there are no noticeable symptoms for quite some time, although the individual has been infected and is able to pass it on. In these cases, special testings (blood tests, diagnostics of vaginal or penile discharge) may be employed to spot the infection before the appearance of effects and symptoms.

What should I do if I detect these symptoms on myself?

The first and most important thing to do is to avoid any kind of sexual contact. Intercourse can worsen the conditions of a patient suffering from STD, spreading the infection towards the internal sex organs. Moreover, having sex while suffering from STD means you may infect your partner.

No matter how small the symptoms are, do not expect the problem to solve itself. Your symptoms may ease or even disappear for a while, but they are sure to return, as the infection is still present.

It is vital to undergo testing to diagnose the cause of the symptoms, because by simple observation it is not possible to tell which pathogen is causing the disease. Special tests need to be carried out for this reason.

The best thing to do is to visit a medical specialist with your partner, so both of you can be tested and treated. This way you can avoid the so-called ping-pong infection, where the untreated partner reinfects the other, healed patient.

What sort of specialist should I visit if I think I have an STD?

Several medical specialists are skilled in treating STDs. Dermatology and STD clinics treat both women and men, while gynaecologists treat only female and urologists treat only male patients. Some hospitals have special STD centres.

What happens at the doctor’s office?

The medical specialist will ask you about your problem and the time it first arose. He or she will inspect the infected areas of skin and mucous membrane, feel the closest lymph nodes. They will take blood and/or a swab, then culture these samples or test them using PCR to determine the exact cause of the problem.

An accurate diagnosis is vital for proper treatment. Similarly important are post-treatment tests to determine if the patient is completely healed. The lessening or disappearance of symptoms does not necessarily mean that the infection has been eliminated.

Can these diseases be cured?

Sexually transmitted diseases may be caused by various pathogens. These include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbae.
Most of these infections can be completely cured, especially if the patient sees a specialist early on, and follows his instructions properly.
Several STDs caused by viruses still pose a problem for treatment, since the viruses which multiply within human cells do not respond to drugs well. Thus in many cases,  these illnesses can only be treated but not cured.

What happens if I don’t get treatment?

Treating the curable STDs is the more effective the sooner the patient sees a doctor.
This is why it is important for your partner to accompany you on your visit to the doctor, and get tested, because he or she might be infected even if there are no visible symptoms yet.
Left untreated, these diseases lead to serious complications. Pathogens can attack the internal genitalia vital for fertility in both men and women, so chronic infection may cause infertility. In the case of pregnancy, the parents‘ STD poses a risk for the unborn child, because during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding the mother may infect the embryo or child.
There are also STDs which cause secondary inflammations of the joints and the eyes, as well as skin diseases, which are even harder to treat. 
Today we also know that the development of cervical cancer is connected to infection with some types of a sexually transmitted pathogen, the human papilloma virus (HPV).

How can I protect myself against STD?

If you live in a relationship where you and your partner are both completely monogamous and neither of you have been infected at the beginning of the relationship, there is no danger of contracting STD.
If you have multiple partners, using condoms can lower the risk of infection.
If you notice any signs of infections on yourself or your partner, seek medical help at once, since early detection and specialized treatment can help avoid complications later.

More about Herpes Simplex, HPV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Ureaplasma, Mycoplasma infections infection in our patient brochure:

GenoID Patient Brochure 1.
GenoID Patient Brochure 2.

Services: STD Diagnostics