Sexually transmitted diseases are viruses, bacteria and even parasites that are passed to individuals through sexual intercourse. Some infected individuals may not have symptoms, which can result in them not getting treatment and continuing to spread the disease. If left untreated, several sexually transmitted diseases can cause complications.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
About 750,000 women in the United States have an episode of acute pelvic inflammatory disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pelvic inflammatory disease is a complication of sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, and is caused by bacteria traveling up from the vagina to the reproductive organs. This infection can also occur without a sexually transmitted disease.
Certain women have a higher risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. These include women who are under age 25 and are sexually active, women who have more than one sexual partner, and users of intrauterine devices, according to WomensHealth.gov. Douching can also increase the risk, as it may push bacteria back to the reproductive organs.
Many women do not experience symptoms with pelvic inflammatory disease. For those that do, the most common symptom is pain in the lower abdomen. Foul-smelling vaginal discharge, painful urination and pain in the upper right abdomen may occur.
Other symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include irregular menstruation, a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and painful sex. The CDC added that when pelvic inflammatory disease is caused by chlamydia, women may have only mild symptoms.
Treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease is antibiotics, though these medications will not reverse any damage caused by the disease. Untreated pelvic inflammatory disease can cause serious complication.
For example, about 10 to 15 percent of women who have the disease become infertile. The infertility is caused by the bacteria entering the fallopian tubes and turning normal tissue into scar tissue.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. This disease is passed from genital to genital — the parasite does not commonly infect the anus, hands or mouth. About 3.7 million individuals in the United States have trichomoniasis, according to the CDC.
Many individuals with trichomoniasis do not have symptoms — only about 30 percent of infected persons display symptoms, noted the CDC. For individuals who do have symptoms, they tend to start 5 to 28 days after the infection.
Women with trichomoniasis may have vaginal discharge with a foul smell. This discharge may appear yellow-green and frothy. Discomfort may occur when urinating or having sex.
Other symptoms of trichomoniasis include itching and irritation in the genital region. In rare cases, patients have lower abdominal pain, stated WomensHealth.gov.
Treatment for trichomoniasis is a single dose of either tinidazole or metronidazole. Both are antibiotic medications.
People who have had trichomoniasis can be re-infected. The CDC noted than 20 percent of people get the sexually transmitted disease again within three months.
WomensHealth.gov. Trichomoniasis Fact Sheet. Web. 22 March 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trichomoniasis. Web. 22 March 2012
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Web. 22 March 2012
WomensHealth.gov. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Web. 22 March 2012
Reviewed March 22, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith