As we knock on the doors of youth, we begin to explore the pleasures of life, and sex is an inevitable part of them.
As much as sex aids in the physical and emotional facets of life, it comes with its own set of disclaimers. Often, we tend to ignore it and push ourselves over the cliff of tragedies.
The global spread of STIs is at alarming rates, with 1 million transmissions every day. And the lack of awareness of STIs stands as the vital culprit.
Fortunately, most sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia and trichomoniasis, have a cure, while others are treatable. But the essential key lies in its timely detection. And to do this, we must be mindful of the sexual health aspects.
Why is timely detection of STIs important?
Having an STI puts you at risk of other infections. For instance, the co-infection of syphilis and HIV is a known fact in medicine. On the other hand, long-term untreated Syphilis increases the chances of neuralgic issues (Neurosyphilis). Hence, early diagnosis of an infection is important to reduce further risks.
Reducing the Spread:
The task of overcoming the rising statistics of STIs falls in the hands of every individual. Also, the right precautions are a must for your partner’s safety.
Certain STIs interfere with the male reproductive system and impair semen quality. Besides, they are the primary cause of infertility in about 15% of infertile males.
STIs in Men: Common Alert Signs
According to the World Health Organisation, 30 pathogenic species of various categories spread through sexual pathways. Sometimes, sexually transmitted infections do not express symptoms. Thus, the first symptom to pay attention to is no symptoms at all. In cases of unprotected sex or doubtful sexual contact with an infected person, prioritise a medical diagnosis within the window period.
Yet, there are warning bells that may help in STI detection. Let's go through these signs in the article.
This bacterial STI circulates through unprotected sex, whether anal, vaginal, or oral. Usually, it is hard to detect Chlamydia, as it doesn’t trigger any symptoms in 50% of cases in men.
If symptoms are triggered, they appear 1-3 weeks after contracting them from an infected partner. However, in some cases, signs of infection appear after months.
Even if it is asymptomatic, it can be medically detected by urine or swab tests of the infected part. The tests are carried out after at least two weeks of unprotected sex. Also, a re-test is recommended to be sure in the case of early infections.
Discharge from the penis (pus-like, watery, or milky-looking)
Burning sensation while urinating
In some cases, rectal infection occurs and leads to pain and discharge from the rectum.
Epididymis and testicles swell when left untreated.
Gonorrhoea is most common among young adults. The causal bacteria infect the mouth, anus, or genital tract due to unsafe sex with an infected individual.
If left untreated, the bacterial infection leads to issues with the testicles and prostate glands.
The signs of infection can emerge between 2 and 5 days later in 80–90% of infected men in the form of urethritis. Even if asymptomatic, a medical diagnosis is possible within a few days to 2 weeks after bacterial exposure.
Urethritis combined with pain when urinating
Scarring of the urethra
Clear discharge from the urethra. Sometimes it can appear white, yellow, or green.
Rectal infection causes bleeding, painful bowel movements, and pain and itching in the anus.
Non-specific signs of fever and tonsillitis can occur.
Herpes is a virus-mediated infection acquired through skin contact, oral sex, sexual intercourse, or kissing.
Two kinds of herpes infections, HSV 1 and HSV 2, exist. However, HSV-2 is a major cause of genital infection. And HSV-1 primarily causes oral infections.
The usual viral incubation phase ranges from 2–12 days after contact. And occur as repeated outbreaks of ulcers in the first year of infection. With an initial infection, ulcers take two to four weeks to heal. With timely medication, outbreaks can decrease.
In the case of recurrent outbreaks, it is best to start treatment within 48 hours of experiencing the symptoms.
No cure exists for herpes, but antiviral treatments exist to relieve the symptoms. In some cases, one may not experience symptoms but carry the viral load as they establish latency in neuronal cells.
Research suggests variable factors such as stress, sunlight, and injuries as triggers for recurrence.
Open red sores around the genitals, rectum, and mouth
Itching and pain in the genitals
Loss of appetite
Groin with Swollen lymph nodes
It is a protozoan-caused STI that has an active spread rate through unprotected sex. Often, men show no symptoms. Yet, if symptoms appear, they show up within a month of infection.
Urethritis (urethral inflammation)
Pain while ejaculating or peeing
Thin, white penile discharge
Frequent urge to pee
Soreness or swelling around the penis or foreskin
Over 200 viral strains are part of the HPV group. Although many of them are harmless, about 40 strains cause STIs. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact, besides sexual contact. In 9 out of 10 cases, our immunity deals with this infection. But failure to do so causes either warts or cancer.
HPVs are of two types: low-risk and high-risk. And they manifest their symptoms as follows:
Low-risk HPV: Mostly, it doesn't cause any disease. But some infections lead to warts. Symptoms appear as bumps on the tip of the penis, groin, thigh, scrotum, or around the anus. In cases of oral infection, warts appear in the mouth or throat.
High-risk HPV: When untreated for a long time, cellular changes occur that lead to penile, oral, or anal cancer. Thus, prevention stands as the best cure.
Of the 14 HPV strains, HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the most threatening cancer factors. In countries like the USA, the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is recommended as a protective measure.
It is a liver-inflammatory viral infection. Three different viruses (A, B, and C) are the most common ones causing hepatitis.
Hepatitis A spreads through faecal-oral contamination and personal contact. Whereas Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C transmit through body fluids such as blood and semen. Although the infection can occur through non-sexual methods such as sharing needles and syringes.
Two types of hepatitis infections occur: Acute and Chronic. And a period of 2 weeks to 6 months is usual for symptoms to appear in cases of acute infection. Whereas chronic hepatitis can occur after decades.
Hepatitis A is non-serious in most cases, and people recover faster. But in the cases of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, a significant percentage of infections lead to cirrhosis.
Vaccines exist for types A and B as a preventive measure.
Symptoms (Acute infections)
Loss of appetite
Dark yellow urine
Pale, clay-coloured stool
Syphilis is a bacterial STI. It affects the genitals, mouth, or anus through unprotected sexual contact. In rare cases, skin-to-skin contact and blood transfer lead to syphilis. If detected early in the primary stages, the infection can be cured with ease. But, when undiagnosed, it escalates to a life-threatening phase.
The disease symptoms vary based on the stage of infection.
Primary Syphilis manifests as a painless, small sore (chancre) on the genitals, lips, or anus. It occurs 10–90 days after bacterial exposure.
Secondary syphilis causes non-itching skin rashes on the hands and feet. Also, a sore throat, weight loss, fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes occur. It manifests 2–8 weeks after the disappearance of primary syphilis symptoms.
Latent syphilis is symptomless. And it can last a year or more. Eventually, it leads to the tertiary stage, which impacts the heart and nervous system.
A Final Word
Sexual health has an intricate relationship with our overall wellness. And it is essential to educate ourselves to avoid any mishap. The risk of STIs can be greatly decreased by correct usage of condoms and abstaining from sex with multiple partners.
Additionally, the presence of an STI in men isn’t simultaneous with the presence of symptoms. Hence, it calls for further alertness to assure a healthy sexual life.
It is in the best interests of sexually active men to have regular health checkups. Besides, if contracted with an STI, timely medical assistance to cure and prevent the spread is essential.
Article by: Sameena
Edited by: Puneet Kapani