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Common STDs In Men

Learn more about common STDs in men

STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are infections that are spread through sexual contact. Sometimes STDs are called STIs or sexually transmitted infections. It is important to note that STDs can spread from one person to the other through different sexual contacts. Some of these STDs are curable and it only takes antibiotics to eliminate them. Others are not curable because there is still no cure yet. There are STDs that come with noticeable signs and symptoms while others exist without any symptoms. A person can have an STD without knowing because they do not have any symptoms. This complicates the fight against the spread of such STDs.

STD Signs and Symptoms In Men

Generally, STDs are divided into 3 groups in men:

  • STDs that mostly lead to genital lesions, sores, or some genital organ abnormalities.
  • STDs that lead to urethra inflammation
  • Systemic STDs that cause signs and symptoms all over the body of the infected person

Some of the common STDs that lead to urethritis or local lesions include syphilis or gonorrhea. These STDs are also known to lead to organ damage in the body if not treated. STDs that cause genital lesions might also be responsible for ulcers, painful blisters or genital warts. This will, however, depend on the type of infection. The infections behind urethritis can also lead to early signs and symptoms that are linked to UTIs. These might include burning sensations, and pain during urination. There might also be some discharge coming from the urethra.

Causes Of STDs in Men

STDs are caused by tiny microorganisms. These might be parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Let us look at these organisms and the STDs they cause.

Viruses: STDs that are caused by viruses include HIV, HPV, herpes simplex virus, human herpesvirus-8, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Bacteria: STDs caused by bacterial include Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Parasite: Trichomonas is sexually transmitted but it is caused by a parasite. Scabies and lice infestation can also be transmitted with close contact especially during sexual activities.

Zika virus is contracted by humans through a bite of infected vector mosquitoes. After infection, the virus is then transmitted to other humans through sexual activities.

Risk Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases In Men

Any sexually active man is at risk of contracting an STD. The only best way to eliminate the risk of contracting an STD is abstinence from sexual activities. Even with abstinence, sometimes hygiene might lead to infections. To reduce the chances of contracting and STD, it is important to use protection such as latex condoms and dental dams. However, it is important to note that there is no method that is 100% sure when it comes to protection from STDs.

According to a report by the CDC, there are approximately 20 million cases of new infections every year. 50% of these new infections is made up of people between the age of 15 and 24. The infections affect both young men and women equally. According to the CDC statistics, men who have sex with other men, sexually active gay men, and bisexual men are at a greater risk of getting infected with STDs. It is evident in the fact that about 50% of all new Human Immunodeficiency Virus infections occur in men who have sex with other men. This is also the case with syphilis.

Common STDs in Men

Sexually active men can contract a number of STDs. The following is a list of these STDs, their signs and symptoms, and the available treatments.

Chlamydia

This is an STD caused by bacteria and is quite common in young sexually active men. Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. This infection affects both men and women and most infected people do not show any signs or symptoms. When symptoms are present in men, the most common is urethritis. The infection can also affect the testes and the epididymis. Fortunately, Chlamydia can be cured with the use of antibiotics. A good example of antibiotics used is azithromycin. It is possible to have re-infections especially if a sex partner is not treated.

Gonorrhea

Just like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea is also a bacterial infection. The infection does not always come with signs and symptoms and this can lead to the infection not being treated. Gonorrhea can result in urethritis which is accompanied by a discharge and pain or burning during urination. A Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium is behind the infection. If symptoms are present, they mostly appear after 4 to 8 days after the infection. This infection can also cause throat and rectum infection. It can also spread to other parts of the body, and this leads to symptoms such as joint pain, and rash.

Treatment involves antibiotics such as cefixime or suprax. There may be other antibiotics used in this treatment. Chlamydia and gonorrhea mostly occur together and thus means that there is a curative treatment for Chlamydia given as gonorrhea is being treated.

Trichomoniasis

This is an STI caused by a parasite called Trichomona vaginalis. Most infected people do not have signs and symptoms. When the symptoms occur, they mostly affect the urethra and cause a burning or itching sensation during urination and is accompanied by a discharge. Trichomona is easily cured with a single dose of antibiotic medicine. Antibiotics mostly used include tinidazole and metronidazole.

HIV

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is generally the most feared sexually transmitted disease. Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection is not only limited to sexual activities. Transmission can be through sharing needles during drug injection or through pregnancy. Ultimately, the HIV virus affects the body’s immune system to a point where the body is attacked by different infections and illnesses. On average, it takes 10 years from infection to immune suppression. There are no specific symptoms after infection but there are people who develop flu-like symptoms or fever. This takes place between 2 and 4 weeks after infection.

When the immune system is suppressed by the virus, there are unusual infections, dementia and some types of cancers that attack the body. There is no cure for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. However, there are different medications that can suppress the virus and prevent it from damaging the immune system.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This particular infection causes painful blisters and sores around the genital area and other exposed parts of the body. Herpes can e transmitted through different sexual activities. In most cases, the HSV-1 virus is behind cold sores around the mouth. This is also referred to as oral herpes. HSV-2 is behind genital herpes though HSV-1 can also cause herpes in the genital area. Some people may show symptoms but others may never show any symptoms. Keep in mind that even if there are no symptoms, it is still possible to transmit the virus even if there are no symptoms.

The lesions that result from herpes come in form of blisters that open into ulcers that get a crusts over them. These sores can be on the scrotum, penis, anus, buttocks, on the thighs or inside the urethra. Usually, the first herpes outbreak is more severe than the outbreaks that follow and might be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and fever.

HPV (Genital Warts)

HPV or Human Papillomavirus infection is a common sexually transmitted disease. There are different types of this virus that cause different conditions. Some HPVs that cause warts that are not relate to STDs while others cause genital warts that can spread during sexual activities. There are also other HPVs that increase the chances of cervix cancer in women. The body is generally able to fight the infection and there are many people with the infection but do not show any symptoms such as warts or cancer. According to medical reports, about 75% of the world population has been infected with HPV at one point of their lives.

In men, the infection can cause genital warts where the lesions appear as fleshy raised bumps on the penis and anal area. In some cases, they might grow big and look like cauliflowers. HPV has no cure but in most cases, it will resolve itself. There are treatments that are used to remove or destroy genital warts. There is a HPV vaccine for boys and girls, that helps protect them from most types of HPV.

Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C

This is the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B and C are viral illnesses that can be transmitted sexually. These two viruses are transmitted through contact with infected blood or through sexual contact.

Half of the people with the HBV infection do not have symptoms while the other half get acute hepatitis. About 5% of those infected get chronic hepatitis B or liver damage. An individual with chronic hepatitis B is at a higher risk of liver cancer development. Fortunately, there is an effective vaccine against hepatitis B. In case of acute hepatitis B, there is treatment that involves supportive care and rest. For chronic hepatitis, treatment is through antiviral medication or interferon.

Unlike hepatitis B, hepatitis C is not transmitted through sexual activities most of the times. In most cases, the transmission is through contact with infected blood. However, it is still possible to transmit the infection through sexual activities. With this virus, there is delayed or missed diagnosis cases because of lack of symptoms. About 75 to 85 percent of people with hepatitis C will develop chronic infection and have a higher risk of liver damage. Unfortunately, there is no hepatitis C vaccine yet.

Syphilis

Syphilis is an infection caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum. When not treated, the infection goes through 3 phases and can be persistent in a latent state. Initially, the manifestation is in form of a chancre or a painless ulcer where the bacteria first enters the body. The ulcer will develop 10 to 90 days after the initial infection and will resolve on its own after 3 to 6 weeks. Treatment is through antibiotics. If the first stage syphilis is not treated, then there are high chances of secondary syphilis. When secondary syphilis develops, the disease moves to other body organs and comes with different symptoms such as kidney disease, arthritis, swollen lymph nodes, rash in some cases liver problems.

After the secondary stage, some people get a latent infection for a long period. After this period, the disease develops to a tertiary stage. Tertiary syphilis leads to different health conditions such as infection of the brain and nodules development. Other conditions include deafness, loss of sight, and aortic aneurysm. The good news is that with proper antibiotic treatment, syphilis is curable.

Zika Virus

The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects that develop in babies of mothers living with the virus. The Zika virus gets into humans through bites of vector mosquitoes. The transmission of the virus between humans happens through sexual contact.

STD Tests In Men

Most STDs are diagnosed based on physical findings and clinical history. Herpes and syphilis are example of STDs that come with identifiable symptoms. The diagnosis of most infections depends on the identification of the microorganism causing it. There are tests that target the genetic material or the surface protein of these organisms.

STD Treatment In Men

STDs that are caused by bacteria such as gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia are curable using antibiotics. Trichomoniasis can be cured with proper parasite medication. Viral STDS can either resolve on their own such as HPV, which has no cure, or stay in the body for the rest of the infected person’s life. Hepatitis B and C can advance to chronic stages where antiviral medication and interferon can manage the infections. Antiretroviral medications are effective in managing HIV though there is still no cure. Herpes simplex virus is a lifelong infection though there are drugs that suppress the virus and reduce the outbreaks.

What If The STD Is Not Treated?

If not treated, some of these STDs might move to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.

Syphilis and gonorrhea are two curable STDs that can cause serious problems in the body if they are not properly treated.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus leads to a weakened immunity which can lead to death from rare infections and cancers. There are many treatment options which help delay the action of the virus to suppress the immune system giving the infected person a longer, healthier life.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can result in liver damage and in some cases, this damage will result in liver failure.

Herpes infection is a lifelong infection and comes with a possibility of future infection there are drugs to suppress the virus but there is no cure yet.

How Can Men Prevent STDs?

Using protection during sexual activities can help reduce the risks of STD infections. This includes latex condoms and dental dams. However, it is important to note that some STDs affect areas that condoms do not cover. Prevention is a difficult process especially in cases where the STD has no symptoms. Abstaining from sex is one of the best ways to protect yourself from STDs. However, sticking to one sexual partner can go a long way in limiting transmission by reducing exposure. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the spread of STDs.

Which Health Care Practitioner Treats STDs In Men?

STDs in Men can be treated by primary health practitioners including family practitioners and interns. An Urologist is best suited for the job since they are specially trained in dealing with the male reproductive system and the disease affecting it. Other specialists such as immunologists and gastroenterologist can best handle Human Immunodeficiency Virus and hepatitis cases respectively.

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