Venereal diseases can be divided into two groups – one group consists of common diseases of the genital organs, the other consists of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sexually transmitted diseases are a large group of diseases that may – besides genital organs – affect also other organs, for example cardiovascular system, digestive tract or muscles and joints. Among so-called classical sexually transmitted diseases there are gonorrhea, syphilis, soft chancre (ulcus molle) and lymphogranuloma venereum. In addition to these, there are chlamydia infections, HIV/AIDS, and less serious like vaginitis, urinary tract infections, yeast infections.
Epidemiology and Symptoms of Venereal Diseases
Venereal diseases are most often transmitted through sexual contact, infected syringes, or by blood transfer. Rarely, it is possible to get infected also by contaminated bedding, towels, or by close interpersonal contact in poor sanitary conditions. Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Any person can be infected, both men and women at any age. In women the diseases manifest more often by unspecific symptoms, e.g. an unpleasant smelling discharge from the genitals (vagina or urethra), pain and itching in the rectal area and around the genitals, or redness in the area. In some men, venereal diseases may be symptomless. If symptoms are present, venereal diseases manifest by pain, itching or burning during urination and discharge from the urethra. There also are specific symptoms for each venereal disease. Symptomless course of the disease is quite common for most STDs at the beginning, which is especially dangerous because it enables further spread of the disease. The person for some time does not know about his/her disease and through sexual intercourse other people can be infected. In some STDs the time between infection and diagnosis can be even several years. Over time, the disease expands within the body and other organs can get infected. Any treatment is therefore more complicated compared to treatment started shortly after infection.
Consequences of Venereal Diseases
Most venereal diseases have serious long-term health consequences. Untreated venereal diseases can result in infertility or, in the worst case, in death of the patient. If a pregnant woman is infected, abortion or premature birth may occur. There also is a significant risk of infection transmission to the fetus. The risk depends on the stage of pregnancy in which the woman gets infected, type of infection, time elapsed before diagnosis and start of treatment. If properly and in time treated, venereal diseases must not necessarily lead to fetal damage.
Treatment of Venereal Diseases
Treatment of venereal diseases is mandatory in most countries; mostly antibiotics are used in the treatment. The treatment is usually outpatient, in more severe cases or when the disease is diagnosed late hospitalization of the patient is needed. It is also obligatory to find and inform all sexual partners of the patient and to begin their treatment if necessary. All the so-called classical venereal diseases must be mandatory reported, usually by the doctor who diagnoses the disease.
Venereal Diseases Prevention
Venereal diseases incidence has been rising in today's society, especially among young people. Therefore, prevention is essential. One of the crucial principles is the use of condoms that can significantly reduce the risk of venereal disease transmission. It is also important to limit the number of sexual partners; promiscuity increases the risk of infection. If suspicion of venereal disease exists, you should see a doctor immediately as early treatment is very important.