In my previous post (STDs 1), I mentioned that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are usually caused by bacteria and viruses. In this blog, I will talk about two Sexually Transmitted Diseases that are caused by viruses.
Herpes is an infection that is caused by a virus. It causes blisters and open sores on the genital area. It can be passed on to people by vaginal oral or anal sex. It also might not cause any symptoms at all. Unlike some other infections Herpes has no cure. An infected person can take medicines to help reduce and prevent the symptoms.
Symptoms: Like mentioned above there might be no symptoms, but some are:
- Blisters on the mouth and lips
- Fever, headaches or pain in joints
- Painful urination.
People with herpes usually have outbreaks where they have the symptoms coming out, the symptoms can last for up to 2-3 weeks, and the frequency differs between people. Typically, there are triggers for the outbreaks which include stress, sunlight, menstrual periods or illness.
Diagnosis: If you have blisters or ulcers the doctor or nurse will examine you and take samples of cells or fluid from the sore and take them to the lab. Blood samples can also be taken to find out if you have been exposed to the virus.
Treatment: There are different medicines that help reduce symptoms and facilitate healing during an outbreak. Treatment should be started as soon as possible after an outbreak starts for better efficacy. Different things can be done to reduce pain during outbreaks: keep the genital area clean and dry, avoid tight clothes. Use over the counter medicines such as Tylenol, ibuprofen.
Prevention: Outbreaks can be prevented by taking medicines everyday. You can prevent spreading to your partner by taking medicines daily, let your partner know you have herpes, use condoms when having sex, do not have sex when you have symptoms.
These are small skin colored growths that form on the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. Warts are caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus or HPV. The virus is caught during sex. There are different types of HPV and some of the strains can lead to cancer of the cervix, penis or anus.
Symptoms: The warts around the genital area. Sometimes these can itch, burn or cause pain.
Diagnosis: There is no test for warts, go to your healthcare provider and they will examine you to diagnose warts.
Treatment: There are medicines usually in the form of lotions or gel which help get rid of warts. If you do not get better with medications or if the warts are a lot there are different treatments to help remove warts.
These treatments include:
- Cryotherapy which freezes warts
- Electrocautery which uses electricity to burn the warts
- Traditional surgery which cuts the warts
- Laser surgery uses light to destroy warts
- Ultrasound surgery uses sound waves to remove warts.
Prevention: There are now vaccines against HPV. They help prevent infection with most of the forms of HPV that cause warts, however the vaccine must be taken before you get the warts. Condoms can help reduce the risk of infection, but they do not protect completely because the virus can live on places on the skin not covered by the condom.
Look out for my next blog as I continue this very important discussion. Please drop your questions and comments below.