Women often have more serious health problems from STIs than men. Some, if left untreated, raise the risk of chronic pelvic pain, infertility and life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Anyone at any age can get an STI. So what are some preventative measures you can take for STIs?

We connected with Dr Sushma Tomar, Infertility Specialist at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai to understand what exactly are STIs, what are some common symptoms, busting some age-old myths and discussing treatment plans.

1. What are STIs and how many types are there?

Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI) are infections transmitted through sexual contact. The infection could be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites.

2. What are some common STIs that disproportionately target women?

Most common types of STIs are

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Genital Herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Pubic lice
  • Trichomoniasis & Chancroid

The most common STIs in women are Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes and Zika Virus.

3. What are the signs and symptoms of an STI?

In some cases, there are no symptoms. However, commonly experienced symptoms are:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Small sores
  • Ulcers
  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods

Testicular pain in men is common, along with anal itching, thick cloudy and painful bowel movement.

4. Can STIs be transmitted through oral sex? Can you get STD from kissing?

Only certain diseases can be transmitted by kissing. Herpes Simplex and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can be transmitted by kissing.

5. Can you get an STD from a toilet seat or through non-sexual contact?

Theoretically, STDs can be transmitted from a toilet seat. However, it has not been proven that an STD can be prevented if the condom is used carefully.

6. How can STIs be prevented? 

Hygiene maintenance is of crucial importance. Other ways of avoiding STIs include;

  • Limiting the number of sexual partners
  • Avoid sharing towels and undergarments
  • Wash up before and after sexual intercourse

It is also important to get a vaccination for HPV and Hepatitis-B

7. Where can you get tested for STIs? 

You can get tested with the help of your family doctor and with the aid of a reliable lab. STIs can be treated if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.

8. What are some of the most common treatment options?

In STIs, bacterial infections like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics, under the careful supervision of your physician. Other infections like HIV, Hepatitis-B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Herpes simplex need regular treatment according to symptoms.

4 Vital Tips To Prevent STIs

  1. Use Condoms: Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can help you avoid STDs. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STDs. You still can get certain STDs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s skin even when using a condom.
  2. Get Vaccinated: The most common STD can be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.
  3. Talk With Your Partner: Talk with your sex partner(s) about STDs and staying safe before having sex. It might be uncomfortable to start the conversation, but protecting your health is your responsibility.
  4. Get Tested: Many STDs don’t have symptoms, but they can still cause health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested.

Disclaimer: This is for the general information of the readers. Always consult a doctor for such specific health problems.