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Anybody and anyone can get STIs and if left untreated, in women they can lead to severe complications including pelvic pain, infertility, and sometimes even ectopic pregnancy. 

However, being mindful about sexual health and protection during sex can help prevent such infections. Identified as one of the co-factors of HIV transmission, a greater understanding of their preventive measures can assist in effective STI and HIV prevention strategies. 

It is currently estimated that India has 2 to 3 million individuals infected with STIs, and the primary mode of this transmission has been via heterosexual contact.

To gain a deeper understanding of how to prevent STIs here’s a video discussing several preventive measures and treatment plans you need to know.

4 Ways How STIs Can Affect Women Differently Than Men

Women bear the long-term consequences of STIs. For example, each year untreated STIs can cause infertility in at least 25,000 women in India and untreated syphilis in pregnant women results in the death of infants in up to 40 percent of the cases. Therefore, testing and treatment are keys to reducing disease and infertility associated with undiagnosed STIs.

1. Female Anatomy Poses Greater Risk

The lining of the vagina in women is thinner compared to the outer skin of a man’s penis, making it easier for bacteria to penetrate and grow. Apart from that, the inner wall of a vagina is generally moist making it ideal for bacterias to grow. 

2. Confusing Symptoms

Women are more likely to confuse symptoms of an STI with something else like that of a yeast infection. While men usually notice symptoms like discharge which is unusual, for women burning and itching can often relate to UTIs or other infections. 

3. Women Can Pass STIs To Their Babies

It’s important for women to know that they can pass STIs to their babies during pregnancy or delivery. The harmful effects of STIs in babies may include stillbirth (a baby that is born dead), low birth weight, brain damage, blindness, deafness and so on. Thus, it’s important to consider precautionary measures before engaging in sexual activities. 

4. Cannot Detect Symptoms As Easily As Men

Genital ulcers (from herpes or syphilis) can occur inside the vagina and may not be easily visible for women, while men may be more likely to notice sores on their penis. 

Women typically see their doctors more often than men and thereby, should use their appointments to ask for STI testing or discuss any changes in discharge, abnormal sensations, or uncomfortable physical sensations.

Read more about STIs and how to prevent them by our in-house expert Dr Sushma Tomar.

Madhurima Halder
Madhurima Halder

Junior Content Writer

A WRITER AND A VISUAL ART ENTHUSIAST, MADHURIMA BELIEVES IN WEAVING STORIES FOR THE COMMUNITY. HER LOVE FOR TRAVELLING AND ALL-THINGS-VINTAGE INSPIRES A GREAT DEAL OF HER WORK.