According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), sexual health is a state of total well-being concerning sexuality. It covers the physical, mental, and social aspects of sexual well-being. Sexual health also encompasses a respectful and positive approach to sexual relationships. For WHO, there is more to sexual health than just being free of dysfunction or disease. It's about being free to practise your sexual rights in a respectable, protected, and positive manner.
On the other hand, healthcare providers use the term "sexual health" to refer to a wide range of diagnostic procedures, treatment, and management activities directly related to sexually transmitted infections. This view of sexual health is still in line with WHO's global definition, which promotes positivity and respect in all provisions of sexual health.
Sexually transmitted infections are illnesses that spread through unprotected and unsafe sexual practices. These illnesses can be contracted through any sexual contact, such as genital contact, anal contact, or oral sex.
Sexual health conditions are illnesses brought about by dysfunctions in the organs of the reproductive and urinary systems. These are not necessarily transmitted through sexual contact. Infections can arise from ageing, bacterial infections, or mental health problems.
Here are seven common sexually transmitted infections prevalent in the EU
There is a lot of confusion regarding the terms "sexually transmitted infection" and "sexually transmitted disease". They were used interchangeably before, but this practice has been avoided now. There are more precise delineations between the differences between these two terms.
Sexually transmitted infections are conditions wherein pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites have entered and invaded the sexual organs. The term "infection" only means the entrance of pathogens inside the body in the strictest medical sense. Getting an infection could result in a host of symptoms. Still, these symptoms aren't strictly essential to the term's definition.
Sexually transmitted disease, on the other hand, refers to an alteration in the overall health of a sexual organ. It is more than an infection; it already presents signs and symptoms disrupting the affected organs' function.
Here's an easier way: Conditions classified as sexually transmitted diseases are all sexually transmitted infections. However, not all sexually transmitted infections can be tagged as sexually transmitted diseases.
These are nine common sexual health conditions prevalent in the EU society today.
The primary mode of transmission for STIs is sexual contact. It can either be vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Illnesses can be passed on through the sexual exchange of bodily fluids such as saliva, semen, blood, and vaginal discharge.
There are certain STIs and sexually transmitted conditions that can spread through non-sexual modes. Such illnesses and conditions are passed through the blood. The two most common means of transmitting these illnesses are getting pricked by a needle used by an infected person and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy. HIV infection is an example of a disease that can be passed on through non-sexual means.
You can get tested for the presence of potential STIs and STDs through the following channels:
Many tests return same-day results so you can get the correct diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible. Other tests may need longer to return results, usually taking 1-2 weeks. Your physician will typically ask you which format you want to view your results.
Once you test positive for an STI, you will be promptly notified by the testing centre. You will be invited for an appointment so they can discuss the test results with you, interpret what they mean, and give you options for treatment plans.
Antibiotic therapy is used to treat infections brought about by bacterial invasion. However, the treatment is prescribed only when necessary due to the rising concerns about antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon that happens when antibiotics are no longer working to eliminate bacteria. These bacteria evolved and changed into a stronger form resistant to first-line antibiotic treatment. Gonorrhoea infections have been affected by antibiotic resistance lately due to overuse of antibiotic therapy. A new form of the disease called "super-gonorrhoea" has become unresponsive to medications such as ceftriaxone and azithromycin.
It is up to the doctors' discretion if your condition warrants an antibiotic course or if it can be managed with alternative treatment methods.
However, not all STIs can be curable. An example of a lifetime STI is HIV. Treatment plans for such diseases are focused on alleviating the symptoms' severity and promoting the patient's comfort.
Uncurable STIs can also have a substantial negative impact on mental health. Your doctor can refer you to a counsellor to help manage your thoughts and feelings regarding the disease.
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