What a fun and exciting night with that fellow student. But where do those irritations on my genitals come today? And that pain when urinating? Do an STD test. I did not use a condom, I don’t feel like it at the time… Sure enough… an STD. I can hit myself on the head. I will never have unsafe sex again!
An estimated 110,000 people contract an STI in the Netherlands every year, sometimes without noticing it. You can therefore also pass it on to someone else unnoticed through unsafe sex. Some STIs have serious consequences if they are not treated in time. Fortunately, most are easy to cure.
There are many different STIs, each with its own symptoms. Below we discuss the five most common venereal diseases.
Chlamydia is the most common STI with 60,000 infections per year. It is caused by a bacteria that settles in the mucous membranes of the genitals. This can cause inflammation of the urethra, anus and cervix. With an infection in the anus, there are usually no complaints. Sometimes there is some bloody discharge, irritation, itching and pain in the stool.
As a woman: you often don’t notice it. This allows you to go through it for a long time and pass on the disease. Symptoms that may indicate are abdominal pain, more or different discharge than usual, pain when urinating, abnormal blood loss and pain during sex. If you keep walking around with it, it can cause fallopian tube inflammation that can lead to infertility untreated.
As a man: you experience discharge from the urethra. Urinating can also be painful. Without treatment leading to a epididymis infection which causes severe pain in the scrotum. It can also go further and cause inflammation of the prostate.
Warts on the genitals and around the anus are common and can be very bothersome. They are harmless, but sometimes very persistent and they can spread quickly. The cause of the warts is a virus, which is almost always transmitted through sexual contact. The warts are usually on and around the genitals and buttock crevice. Occasionally they are in the mouth. Often there are some small warts that grow and spread. They don’t hurt, but can sometimes itch.
As a woman: you will find the warts on or around the labia, in the vagina, in the cervix or in or around the anus. The complaints can get worse during menstruation. Without treatment, the warts can spread.
As a man: you will find the warts on and around the penis. Without treatment, the warts can spread.
Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria that lives on and in the mucous membranes of the vagina or penis, anus, throat and eyes. As a result of oral sex, both men and women can have gonorrhea in the throat. With an infection in the anus, there are usually no complaints. Sometimes there is some mucus, pus-like discharge or blood in the stool.
As a woman: you often have no complaints of gonorrhea. Sometimes there is more discharge that smells unpleasant and looks different. Urination can be painful. Without treatment, gonorrhea can cause fallopian tube inflammation, which can eventually lead to infertility or an ectopic pregnancy.
As a man: you experience the first complaints within two weeks after sexual contact. It may be pus-like discharge (yellowish or greenish) from the urethra or an irritated feeling when urinating. It sometimes happens that there are no complaints. Without treatment, it can cause epididymitis and eventually lead to inflammation of the prostate.
Hepatitis B is a serious infectious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. This virus invades the liver cells and causes inflammation there. The severity of the complaints also varies depending on the severity of the inflammation. Complaints can also be completely missing. Hepatitis B is highly contagious.
As a woman and man: you usually notice little or nothing of the infection. Only one in three infected people have complaints. These consist of fatigue, listlessness, nausea, abdominal pain and itching, sometimes also joint pain and fever. Jaundice can occur after the complaints have been expressed. The whites of the eyes turn yellow and the skin sometimes too. The urine becomes very dark and the stool is very light. A chronic hepatitis B infection can have lasting consequences. All hepatitis B carriers are at risk of malfunctioning liver, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. Occasionally, the immune system spontaneously removes the virus from the body after years.
Herpes Genitalis is caused by a nasty virus. The virus causes an infection of the skin and mucous membranes in and around the genitals. You must come into contact with the rash on the skin or mucous membrane of the mouth, penis, vagina, or anus to become infected.
As woman and man: you will experience the first complaints within a week after the sexual contact. There is often an itchy, irritating, burning and / or painful feeling. The spots first become red and later on these become sores or blisters. Initial seizures can be accompanied by pain, fever, swollen glands in the groin and sometimes discharge, especially women who often have pain when urinating. It is recommended to touch the inflamed area with blisters and sores as little as possible and always wash hands well after possible contact. After treatment, the virus may return.
Safe or sorry?
For all STIs: go to the doctor or local GGD. You can get medicines and you can even get vaccinated against hepatitis B. It is also wise to get tested regularly if you have changing bed partners and do not always have safe sex. But prevention is always better than cure, so the most sensible and simple solution is: quite safe or not at all!