Can STDs Be Cured? 10 Dos and Don’ts of STDs

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are common, although they are usually easy to treat. Is it possible that you’ve been infected with an STD,1 and if so, can STDs be cured?

The good news is that most STDs are curable, and those that aren’t can be effectively managed or limited with medication. Here is a brief overview of sexually transmitted infections, their types, causes, and treatment.

1. What are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?

According to World Health Organization (WHO), STDs are sexually transmitted diseases that can be passed from one person to the next during intercourse. The term STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) may also be used. Although the two phrases are frequently used interchangeably, peer-reviewed studies believe that an STI is an infection and an STD is a sickness that results from it.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

An STD or STI can affect anyone who has had sexual contact with another individual. The most common way for infections to spread is by sperm or vaginal fluids, while some can also be disseminated in other ways. An STD can be contracted during oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse. Fluids can be shared by your hands or other items, allowing STDs to spread even if there is no penetration.

Some STDs can be transmitted in other ways, but this is uncommon. If the proper safety protocols aren’t followed, HIV and Hepatitis B2 can be transmitted through needles, surgical tools, or blood donations.

2. Types of STIs

There are different types of STIs, of which some are curable and some are not. The most common STIs are syphilis, hepatitis B, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, HIV, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV), Genital warts, and many more.

The majority of STDs can be cured with antibiotics or antiviral medicines3. However, four STDs are still incurable. There is no cure for these infections, although treatment and medicine can help manage them. These are:

2.1 Hepatitis B

One of the leading causes of liver cancer 4is hepatitis B infection. A vaccine against this virus is given to babies at birth.

can stds be cured
By: Marco Verch Professional from Flickr/original photo and the license

Hepatitis B causes no symptoms in most instances, and most adults can battle the illness. If you have hepatitis B, your best bet is to talk to your doctor about having your liver checked and discuss treatment options. A combination of antiviral medication and immune system modification can delay the effects of the virus.

2.2 HIV infections

The other chronic infection is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Modern medication enables many HIV-positive individuals to lead long, healthy lives without fear of spreading the disease through sex.

Antiretroviral therapy is the most common HIV treatment.5 HIV blood levels are reduced to undetectable levels when these medications are taken.

2.3 Genital Herpes

A viral STD like Herpes persists for a long time. Herpes is common, affecting over 500 million people worldwide.

Skin-to-skin contact is the way herpes is passed from one person to the next. Many people with herpes are unaware that they have it because there are no symptoms. Meanwhile, the symptoms are painful sores on the reproductive organs and around the genital area.

Herpes is fortunately curable with antiviral drugs that reduce outbreaks and transmission risk. If you have herpes and are experiencing symptoms, consult your doctor to know which antiviral drugs are the best treatment.

2.4 HPV infection

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is very common. About 9 out of 10 sexually active individuals carry HPV. Within two years of being discovered, 90 tests of these illnesses are gone. HPV, on the other hand, is still incurable and can cause genital warts, oral cancer, or cervical cancer if left untreated.

Many children receive vaccines to protect them from various forms of HPV. HPV is detected with Pap smears every couple of years in women. Creams, liquid nitrogen, acid, and minor surgery can all be used to eliminate genital warts.

3. Causes of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Bacteria and viruses that proliferate in warm, damp parts of the body cause STDs. They are carried from one person to the next through intercourse. Infections from the penis can spread to the vaginal canal, mouth, and anus. These infections can range in severity from mild to severe, even life-threatening.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The initial infection is spread through the body’s fluids. This happens most commonly during vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse. Some STDs are transmitted from person to person through infected blood. People who share infected drug needles, for example. Alternatively, pregnant women may infect their children while giving birth or nursing.

STDs cannot be transmitted through casual touch. You cannot spread STDs by shaking hands, exchanging clothes, or sharing a toilet seat.

An STD can affect any sexually active individual. It is teens and young adults who are most at risk. They are more prone to have multiple sex partners and may not be aware of how to avoid issues. Users of filthy needles on the street are also at risk.

4. Symptoms of STIs

If you have an STD that starts with a symptomatic STI,6 you may initially notice:

  • itchiness in or around the vagina, penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, thighs, or

  • mouth sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the vagina, penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth

  • irregular bleeding or discharge from the penis or vaginal area

  • painful or swollen testicles

  • unexpected periods or bleeding after sexual activity.

However, keep in mind that not all STIs cause symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on whether or not an STI develops into an STD. Some of these, such as discomfort during sexual activity, abdominal pain while urination, and irregular or painful periods, may be comparable to the above.

Other symptoms can vary greatly depending on the type of STD. They may include fever, tiredness, recurrent pain, loss of memory, nausea due to abnormalities in eyesight or hearing, and lumps, or swellings caused by weight loss.

5. Diagnosis of STDs

Because it’s difficult for a healthcare professional to diagnose an STD based solely on symptoms, they’ll need to do some testing and examinations.

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Photo by Testalize. me on Unsplash

Depending on the STD suspected, this could entail physical examinations, blood tests, samples of physiological fluids, and specialty treatments, including keyhole surgery or a colposcopy.

Blood Tests: Blood testing can confirm the diagnosis of HIV or syphilis in its later stages.

Urine samples: The existence of some STIs can be confirmed using a urine sample.

Fluid Samples: Your doctor may test fluid and samples from the sores to determine the infection if you have open genital sores.

6. Treatment of STDs

STDs can affect the body in a variety of ways. Most STDs have no way of reversing their effects. Some STDs are incurable, such as genital warts and AIDS. You may also be recommended to adopt lifestyle changes, such as refraining from sexual activity until your therapy is finished.

STDs or STIs caused by bacteria are frequently easier to treat. Infections caused by viruses can be controlled but not necessarily healed. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, taking treatment as soon as possible avoids or decreases the chance of infecting your kid.

STIs are typically treated with one of the following medications, depending on the illness:

6.1 Antibiotics:

In the case of many infectious diseases transmitted to humans by bacteria and parasites, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, antibiotics can cure the infection in one dose. Since both gonorrhea and chlamydia frequently occur together, you will likely be treated for them both at the same time.

It’s crucial to finish your antibiotic therapy after you’ve started it. If you don’t think you’ll be able to take your medication as prescribed, tell your doctor. In such cases, new treatments may be accessible.

Furthermore, you should refrain from having sex for at least seven days after you’ve finished your antibiotic therapy and any sores have healed. Sexually active women should also be retested after three months, according to experts, because there is a high risk of reinfection.

6.2 Antiviral drugs

If you have herpes or HIV, you will be prescribed antiviral medicine. If you take daily suppressive therapy with prescription antiviral medicine, you’ll have fewer herpes recurrences. However, it is still possible to infect your spouse with the herpes simplex virus.

Antiviral medications can prevent HIV infection for years. However, you will remain sick and able to transfer the virus, although the risk will be minimized.

Starting HIV treatment as soon as possible is more efficient. If you take your medications exactly as prescribed, you can reduce the viral load in your blood to the point where it can’t be detected.

If you’ve had an STI, find out how long it takes to be retested after treatment. Retesting will confirm that the treatment worked and that you were not infected again.

7. Prevention of STDs

When used correctly and consistently, condoms are one of the most effective methods for preventing STIs, including HIV. In mutually accepted sexual partnerships, condoms also protect against unwanted pregnancy.

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Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Condoms, notwithstanding their effectiveness, do not protect against STIs that cause extra-genital ulcers (i.e., syphilis or genital herpes). Condoms should be used in all vaginal and anal sex whenever possible.

However, Condoms will not protect you from Herpes Virus (HPV) (which can cause genital warts), Scabies, Pubic Lice, and Syphilis.

The easiest method to avoid these problems is to watch for any sores, growths, or discharge that an STD could cause. Although visual signs aren’t always present, they can serve as a possible warning in some circumstances. If you or your new partner exhibits these symptoms, you should avoid sexual contact and consult a medical professional.

Hepatitis B and HPV are two viral STIs for which vaccinations are available that are both safe and effective. These vaccinations have shown significant advancements in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If substantial (>80 percent) vaccine coverage of young women (ages 11–15) can be reached, HPV vaccination could save the lives of millions of women in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of occurrences of cervical cancer occur, over the next decade and are at higher risk.

Adult male circumcision and microbicides are two biological therapies for preventing other STIs.

7.1 Check-up for STDs

You should see a doctor if you’ve had a lot of sexual partners or if you’ve had intercourse without protection. A doctor can help you whether or not you have symptoms. Testing for STIs/STDs is a simple procedure. It’s preferable to get tested and treated than to risk developing health problems or infecting others. Testing for HIV, HBV, and syphilis7 is advised. If you have unprotected sex with multiple partners, you can perform check-ups over time.

8. Controlling the spread of STDs

  • Behavioral change is a challenge: Although substantial efforts have been made to identify simple interventions that can help minimize dangerous sexual behavior, it remains difficult.

  • People’s capacity to detect the signs of STIs can be improved by education and counseling, which increases the possibility that they will seek treatment and encourage a sexual partner to do so. Unfortunately, a lack of public awareness, a lack of training among healthcare personnel, and a long-standing, pervasive stigma around STIs obstruct the broader and more effective implementation of these therapies.

  • Lacking STIs screening and treatment: There are numerous STI testing and treatment problems. Limited resources, stigmatization, poor service quality, and often out-of-pocket fees are among them.

  • The highest rates of STIs affect marginalized groups such as sex workers, men sex with men, drug users, prisoners, migrant populations, and teenagers. They frequently lack access to adequate and friendly health treatments.

  • STI services are neglected and underfunded in low- and middle-income countries. These issues result in challenges in delivering asymptomatic infection screening, a lack of educated workers, limited laboratory capacity, and insufficient supplies of relevant medicines.

9. STIs and Pregnancy

STIs can be contracted when pregnant. Some people are unaware that they have a problem because many are not showing symptoms. As a result, doctors may perform a comprehensive STI panel at the start of a pregnancy.

These disorders can put you and your baby’s lives in jeopardy. STIs can be passed on to your baby during pregnancy or delivery or may result in low birth weight. Thus treatment should begin as soon as possible.

Antibiotic treatment can be used to treat all bacterial STIs safely during pregnancy. Antivirals can treat viral infections and reduce the risk of transmission to your child.

Know more about:10 Famous People With Herpes

10. Final words: Can STDs Be Cured?

Many STDs can be treated, but not all can be cured. Some can be fatal, while others have less severe consequences. Meanwhile, STIs are the root cause of them all. So getting routinely checked and safe sex practices are the best way to avoid them. Also, if you test positive for any STI, get treatment right away.

6 Highly Contagious Diseases Causes & Prevention
Icy Health

  1. Wasserheit, Judith N. “Epidemiologies! Synergy: Interrelationships between Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases.” Sexually transmitted diseases (1992): 61-77. ↩︎
  2. Lok, Anna S., E. Jenny Heathcote, and Jay H. Hoofnagle. “Management of hepatitis B: 2000—summary of a workshop.” Gastroenterology 120.7 (2001): 1828-1853. ↩︎
  3. Grayson, M. Lindsay, et al., eds. Kucers’ The Use of Antibiotics: A Clinical Review of Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiparasitic, and Antiviral Drugs, -Three Volume Set. CRC Press, 2017. ↩︎
  4. Alzahrani, Badr, Tristan J. Iseli, and Lionel W. Hebbard. “Non-viral causes of liver cancer: does obesity led inflammation play a role?.” Cancer letters 345.2 (2014): 223-229. ↩︎
  5. Cihlar, Tomas, and Marshall Fordyce. “Current status and prospects of HIV treatment.” Current opinion in virology 18 (2016): 50-56. ↩︎
  6. World Health Organization. “Guidelines for the management of symptomatic sexually transmitted infections.” (2021). ↩︎
  7. Rothschild, Bruce M. “History of syphilis.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 40.10 (2005): 1454-1463. ↩︎

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