Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD's)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), or sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)  are infections or diseases spread for person to person, due to unprotected sexual contact. These diseases can be transmitted by vaginal, anal or oral contact. The transmission of many STD’s can be however, be easily prevented by using a condom.

There are many different types of STD’s which can range from minor infections, through to HIV which has the potential to be fatal.

Some of the most common STI’s are:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital Herpes
  • Genital warts or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

Testing for STD’s is very simple. A urine sample, a swab to detect chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomonas (depending on the site) and/or blood tests are available for detecting HIV and syphilis or herpes antibodies.  These are all quick and easy to perform and your Doctor will discuss the investigation process with you. Your partner should also be tested where possible.

Some STI’s can be treated with antibiotics, such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis, and providing that treatment is sought immediately, the patient will fully recover.  However, if left untreated, these infections can have serious health consequences including Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, organ damage, and even stillbirth in pregnancy.  This is why early detection is so important.

Cervical Screening Tests (CST’s) are now performed every five years, and are much more effective than the previous Pap smears.  The CST detects Human papillomavirus (HPV).  Undergoing the test itself is no different to the original Pap smear test, but the laboratory testing is more detailed and vigorous in the quest to detect HPV cells.  If HPV cells are detected, the sample automatically undergoes Liquid Based Cytology (LBC) to check for abnormal cervical cells.  Patients are then managed on their risk determined by those results: ie; Low Risk (re-screen in 5 years), Intermediate Risk Result (Repeat HPV test in 12 months), 12 months Repeat Test. Patients classified as a Higher Risk Result, are there referred on to a Specialist Gynaecologist for further investigation.

Being diagnosed with an STD can be particularly confronting and despite your feelings of fear or embarrassment, it is essential that you seek medical advice and testing if you suspect that you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease due to unprotected intercourse or sexual contact. All of the testing can be performed by your General Practitioner and if he/she feels that you need treatment from a Specialist, a referral will be given to you to see one of our Gynaecologists.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is infection in one or more of a woman’s reproductive organs, the uterus, fallopian tubes or the ovaries.  PID It is often caused by an STD that has been left undiagnosed or untreated, however this is not always the case. A specialist Gynaecologist can investigated the cause and advise you of your treatment options.

Untreated Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause scar tissue and pockets of infected fluid (abscesses) to develop in the reproductive tract, which can subsequently cause permanent damage. Complications of PID can be formation of scar tissue inside and outside fallopian tubes, which may lead to tubal blockage (infertility). Other complications can be ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tube), infertility (inability to get pregnant) and long-term pelvic/abdominal pain.  If diagnosed early, PID can often be treated.

Sign and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease could be ;-

  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Unusual discharge
  • Pain and/or bleeding during intercourse
  • Burning sensation on urination
  • Bleeding between periods.

If you have any questions or concerns about Sexually Transmitted Infections or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, please speak to your General Practitioner or your Specialist Gynaecologist.

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