STD

STD is the abbreviation for Sexually Transmitted Disease. The name includes diseases that are sexually transmitted, although this is not necessarily the only way of transmission.  

STDs do not always cause symptoms, but if they remain untreated they can have serious consequences, such as infertility, or, as in the case of an HIV infection, AIDS. Fortunately, this does not have to happen and most STDs are easy to treat. 

Well-known STDs that we are going to discuss here are chlamydia, genital warts and genital herpes. 

Chlamydia 

What is chlamydia? 

Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It can cause infections in the urethra, cervix, rectum or throat, but can also spread to the epididymis, uterus or fallopian tubes. 

What are the causes of chlamydia? 

Chlamydia can only be contracted through unsafe sex. It is never actually transferred by oral sex. 

What forms of chlamydia are there? 

Chlamydia has a second manifestation, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). This is a variant of chlamydia that is more common in HIV-infected men who have sex with men. This manifestation is subject to a different treatment plan. 

How do you recognise chlamydia? 

The most common symptoms in women, which may indicate an infection are:  

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating 
  • Pain and blood loss during or after sex, or blood loss if you are not on your period 
  • More or abnormal vaginal discharge 
  • Itching at the anus, (bloody) discharge at the stool or diarrhoea 
  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen, possibly with fever 
  • Pelvic inflammation with fever 

In men, it can be recognised by: 

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating 
  • Separation from the urethra, especially in the morning 
  • Itching at the anus, (bloody) discharge at the stool and diarrhoea 
  • Pain in the scrotum 

 

Is there anything you can do yourself about chlamydia? 

There is no known treatment for chlamydia other than antibiotic treatment by a doctor. It is important that you do not leave this condition untreated.  

An untreated chlamydia infection can result in inflammation of the fallopian tubes and pelvic region in women, chronic abdominal pain, but above all ectopic pregnancies and infertility. In case of infection during pregnancy it can result in premature birth, a too low birth weight or inflammation of the eyes or lungs. 

In men, the consequences seem to be less serious; in addition to inflammations in the epididymis and the prostate, a temporary reduction in fertility may occur. 

What are the forms of treatment? 

Choice of the doctor 

If there is no pregnancy, and not lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) 

First choice for cervical and/or urethral infection: 

  • azitromycin orally (preferably) once or doxycycline orally for 7 days.  

Second choice for cervical and/or urethral infection: 

  • Amoxicillin orally (off-label) or  
  • Levofloxacin orally (off-label) or 
  • ofloxacin orally (off-label). Treatment for 7 days. 

In case of rectal infection: 

  • Doxycycline oral for 7 days 

In case of pregnancy, the following is recommended: 

  • azitromycin orally (preferred) once or 
  • amoxicillin orally, 7 days 

In the case of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), the following is recommended: 

  • oxycycline orally (preferred), 21 days 
  • erythromycin orally, 21 days 

Medication 

Chlamydia can only be treated with antibiotics. 

Alternative treatments 

There are no alternative treatments for chlamydia. 

Lifestyle changes 

To prevent you from being infected with chlamydia, it is always better to have sex with a condom. If you have chlamydia, warn all possible sexual partners, so that they can also be tested and can prevent them from infecting others. 

Genital warts 

What are genital warts? 

Genital warts are, as the name suggests, warts around or on the genitals. They are caused by an APV virus. A problem with this STD is that the warts only appear after some time, while you can already transmit this virus.  

The warts appear on the penis, the vagina or the anus. At first, the warts are small and then they grow. The colour is pinkish red or greyish white. Usually they grow in groups, and they can expand. 

What are the causes of genital warts? 

The cause of genital warts is an HPV virus. This virus can be contracted through sex, but it can also be transmitted through the fingers or a used towel. It can also be excreted through the skin around genitals. As a result, condoms do not protect 100% against this virus. 

After all, people often do not get sick from this virus and do not get warts. However, they will still be able to pass it on. They are carriers of the virus. 

What forms of genital warts are there? 

There is only one form of the HPV virus that has genital warts as a symptom. 

How can you recognise genital warts? 

The most common symptoms that may indicate an infection with the HPV virus are: 

  • Warts all around, on and in the genitals 
  • Invisible warts in the vagina or on the cervix 
  • Warts around the anus, these can also occur if you have not had anal sex. 
  • Itching, pain or burning sensation 

 

Can you do anything yourself about genital warts? 

Genital warts usually disappear spontaneously, but if you have a lot of problems with them, you can, as with other warts, apply an ointment or liquid to the warts for five to sixteen weeks. The virus itself will not disappear from your body. 

What are the forms of treatment? 

Choice of the doctor 

As genital warts can also disappear spontaneously, the doctor will discuss with you whether a treatment is desirable. If that is the case, there are three choices: 

1st choice: 

The product podophyllotoxin. Apply vaseline to the surrounding (healthy) skin. Continue the treatment until the warts are gone. Use for a maximum of 5 consecutive weeks. 

2nd choice: 

The product imiquimod. Apply vaseline to the surrounding (healthy) skin. Continue the treatment until the warts are gone. Use for a maximum of 16 consecutive weeks. 

3rd choice: 

The product sinecatechins. Apply vaseline to the surrounding (healthy) skin. Continue the treatment until the warts are gone. Use for a maximum of 16 consecutive weeks. 

Medication 

See the choice of the doctor The virus itself will not disappear from your body, but the warts can be tackled if they bother you. 

Alternative treatments 

Genital warts can also be frozen and removed by the doctor. 

Lifestyle changes 

To prevent you from being infected with genital warts, it is always better to have sex with a condom. If you have genital warts, even if they do not bother you at the time, warn all possible sexual partners, so that they can also be tested and can prevent them from infecting others. 

Genital herpes 

What is genital herpes? 

Herpes genitalis is an STD that is common in the Netherlands. It is a sexually transmitted disease, caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). 

This virus will remain in your body forever, and in case of stress, menstruation or reduced resistance it will reappear. 

What are the causes of genital herpes? 

Genital herpes is a virus. You may be infected through the skin or mucous membrane of your mouth, penis, vagina or anus. As with genital warts, a condom does not protect 100% against infection. You can also transmit the virus to other parts of the body via the fingers or the mouth.  

What forms of genital herpes are there? 

There are several forms of herpes. Genital herpes is one of them. 

How can you recognise genital herpes? 

Usually the first symptoms, the characteristic blisters, only appear after a week.  

In women, the most common symptoms are: 

  • Itching, pain or burning sensation 
  • Red spots on the skin or mucous membranes 
  • Blisters or sores on or around the vagina or in the mouth (even if your mouth has not been in contact with the genitalia) 
  • Blisters or sores in barely visible areas such as the cervix or around the anus 
  • Pain when urinating 

In men, the most common complaints are: 

  • Itching, pain or burning sensation 
  • Red spots on the skin or mucous membranes 
  • Blisters or sores on or around the penis or in the mouth (even if your mouth has not been in contact with the genitalia) 
  • Blisters or sores around and in the anus 
  • Pain when urinating. 

The blisters can dry out and disappear after about three weeks. It may seem as if you are off the hook, but this STD will always remain in your body and will reappear regularly if your body is less balanced. 

Can you do anything yourself about genital herpes? 

Prevention is always better than cure.  

In the event of an outbreak, you can take the following measures: 

  • Never touch the blisters with your bare hands or mouth, or wash your hands immediately afterwards. 
  • There are creams with which you can touch the blisters to make them disappear. 

 

What are the forms of treatment? 

Medication 

In case of minor or recurring complaints, you can treat the spots locally with a drying paste or cream: 

  • zinc oxide (petroleum cream or ointment) or 
  • zinc sulphate (vaseline cream) 

In case of pain, you can treat it locally with lidocaine zinc oxide (ointment) or systemically with paracetamol or an NSAID. 

In case of serious complaints, the doctor may prescribe one of these medicines: 

  • famciclovir (preferred) 
  • valaciclovir (preferred) 
  • aciclovir 

 

Alternative treatments 

There are no alternative treatments for genital herpes. 

 

Sources: 

Soaids Nederland (z.j.) STDs, consulted on 12 May 2019, at https://www.soaaids.nl/nl/soas 

Dutch Care Institute (z.j.) Sexually transmitted diseases, consulted on 12 May 2019, at https://www.farmacotherapeutischkompas.nl/bladeren/indicatieteksten/seksueel_transmissible_disorders 

Dutch Care Institute (z.j.) skin infection, herpes virus, consulted on 12 May 2019, at https://www.farmacotherapeutischkompas.nl/bladeren/indicatieteksten/huidinfectie__herpes_virus 

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