What you will know
Many men assume that if they had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), they would instantly see the symptoms. It’s true that most STDs cause symptoms, but it pays to know which signs to look out for because these can be easily mistaken for other conditions. Many times STDs don’t give any symptoms at all.
That’s why it’s essential to know the signs and symptoms of common STDs, understand all the risks connected to them and be equipped with knowledge that is critical for every sexually active man.
STDs – Basic Facts
STDs are infections that are transmitted during sexual contact. Any sexual activity may lead to contracting an STD. The most common type of STDs in men are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital herpes. Treatment of STDs is closely related to the microorganism provoking the disease. For example, if an STD is caused by bacteria, it is usually treated with antibiotics.
Remember that some STDs like herpes or HIV infection may be present throughout your entire life. Early diagnosis of STDs helps to avoid spreading the virus to other people and get the disease treated as soon as possible, boosting the chances for recovery.
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Who Is At Risk?
Anyone who engages in any sexual activity is at risk for STDs. In order to eliminate that threat, experts suggest abstinence from sexual activity. However, latex condoms are the next best strategy. Using them during sexual contact will significantly reduce the chances of acquiring an STD.
However, you should remember that no method is bulletproof. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20 million new STD infections occur every year. And people aged between 15 to 24 make up around half of those who are newly infected.
It is interesting to note that young men and women are affected almost equally. According to the report, sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of contracting STDs.
What Causes STDs in Men?
STDs are caused by different kinds of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some of the most common sexually transmitted viral infections are human papillomavirus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), hepatitis B and C, and human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8).
The most popular sexually transmitted bacterial infections include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Trichomonas, on the other hand, is an example of a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a parasite.
Here is everything you need to know about the most widespread STDs and how to avoid them.
This STD is transmitted during anal, oral, or vaginal sex with someone who is already infected with chlamydia. Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an increase in chlamydia infections.
The trouble is, many people who are infected with chlamydia never display any symptoms. Others may start to show signs several weeks after the infection. Some of the most common symptoms of chlamydia are swollen testicles, penile discharge and pain when urinating.
This infection appears in various areas such as throat, anus, or penis. It is generally transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex with a woman or a man who has been infected. Gonorrhea may not display any symptoms. However, if you experience pain when urinating, swollen testicles, or a green, yellow, or white discharge from the penis, it’s time to visit the doctor.
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The final bacterial STDs, syphilis can be transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. It is an ancient disease that is still prevalent today. The condition is considered as one of the more serious ones for men because of its relation to HIV. When infected with syphilis, patients suffer from an increased risk of developing HIV.
Syphilis usually appears in four different phases: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. And each phase generates different symptoms:
- Primary syphilis – a small, firm, and painless spot where the bacteria entered the body appears, usually around the lips, aim, or penis. Look for swollen lymph nodes in the area as well.
- Secondary syphilis – a sore throat, headache, tiredness, skin rash that doesn’t itch on the soles of feet or palms of hands.
- Latent syphilis – this stage occurs once the symptoms of the secondary phase have stopped and the STD has not been treated.
- Tertiary syphilis – the fourth stage is relatively rare, even if syphilis is left untreated. However, it can cause severe complications by damaging the brain, heart, joints, nervous system, and other parts of the body. If syphilis reaches that stage, it can generate serious medical issues or even cause death.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV refers to a group of viruses that contains over 150 strains. Most of these strains are harmless. However, 40 of them are considered harmful. Among these, you will find low-risk and high-risk HPV strains.
HPV is one of the most common STDs today, and most men and women who are sexually active will eventually acquire a strain of the virus. The low-risk HPV strains may show symptoms such as genital warts. The high-risk strains may generate cancers of penis, throat, or anus. Remember that HPV can be transmitted through skin to skin contact with the person who has been infected with the virus. However, it is most commonly transmitted during sexual activity. Most of the time, men infected with HPV won’t see any symptoms.
The best way to prevent acquiring an HPV is through the use of condoms. However, HPV can also be prevented with vaccines. Even though some of these vaccines are recommended only for females, one version has recently been licensed to use in boys and men aged 11 to 21 in order to prevent genital warts.
Caused by the hepatitis B virus, the disease causes a severe inflammation of the liver. You can contract it by coming into contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is infected. Many people who are infected with hepatitis B won’t display any symptoms. And those who do may often mistake them for a cold or the flu. Even if they see no signs, the virus can keep on affecting their liver if it’s left untreated. Some of the most common hepatitis B symptoms include low-grade fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain, jaundice (yellow skin hue), and feeling lethargic.
This viral infection may affect the mouth or the genitals. It is always transmitted through direct contact with the genitals or the mouth of the person who is infected. The symptoms of herpes may be difficult to see, and blisters may often be mistaken for other skin conditions. Symptoms generally occur between two days and two weeks following the infection.
Some of the most common symptoms of herpes in men are: blisters on the penis, testicles, and around the central area, and blisters on the lips, tongue, gums, tingling or itching in the area where the blisters will appear, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, aching muscles in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or knees.
Be aware of the symptoms caused by the most common STDs and keep your health in check. Being sexually active is fun, but it also means that you need to be responsible for your health and the health of your partner. If you see any of these symptoms, be sure to consult with a doctor.
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