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Sexually Transmitted Diseases

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • A sexually transmitted disease, also called STD, is an infection that is spread by having sex. STDs are contagious diseases caused by germs, such as bacteria and viruses. The germs can be spread by any form of sexual contact, including oral (mouth) and anal sex. You usually get an STD through mucous membrane (moist areas of the body) contact with an infected body fluid. The germs that cause STDs are found in body fluids such as saliva, urine, blood, vaginal fluids, and semen. Breaks in the skin, an open sore, or infected skin are other ways that germs can enter your body. Common STDs include Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital warts caused by the human papilloma virus ( HPV), gonorrhea, hepatitis B, herpes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis. Other STDs include candidiasis (yeast infection), chancroid, hepatitis A and C, pubic lice, and scabies.

  • Signs and symptoms of an STD include having sores or discharge in the genital area. You may also develop fever, muscle pain, or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes there are no symptoms and you can spread an STD without knowing it. You may need different tests to see what kind of infection you have. These include blood tests, culture, smear test, or urine test. Treatment for STD, such as medicine to kill the germs, depends on the cause. Currently there is no treatment available to cure some STDs, such as herpes, HIV, or viral hepatitis. For these STDs, treatment is aimed at controlling the effects of the infection. With treatment, your STD may be cured or controlled, and further spread of the infection may be prevented.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Medicines for treatment or control of STDs may cause side effects. You may get an allergic reaction, and have itching, redness, and swelling in your skin. Even after treatment, your symptoms or infection may not disappear at once, may still continue, or may come back later on. If left untreated, you could also spread the infection to your sex partner, especially if you do not practice safe sex. The germs causing your STD may spread and damage female organs, such as the fallopian tubes. This damage can lead to having a tubal pregnancy or prevent you from being able to get pregnant. Some kind of germs may cause cancer to develop. Some viral infections, such as hepatitis B or HIV, can cause serious (very bad) illness and lead to death. STDs are more easily cured or controlled if found and treated as soon as possible. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your disease, care, or treatment.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

IV:

An IV (intravenous) is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antifungal medicine: This medicine helps kill fungus that can cause illness.

  • Antiviral medicine: This is given to prevent or treat an infection caused by a germ called a virus. Antiviral medicine may also be given to control symptoms of a viral infection that cannot be cured.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken for tests. The blood is tested to see how your body is doing. It can give your caregivers more information about your health condition. You may need to have blood drawn more than once.

  • Culture: This is a test to grow and identify the germ that is causing your infection. A sample may be taken by rubbing a cotton swab on the ulcer or taking a sample of fluid discharge.

  • Smear test: A sample, such as discharge, is taken from the affected area and checked under the microscope. This will help caregivers learn what is causing your condition.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a simple test that looks inside of your body. Sound waves are used to show pictures of your organs and tissues on a TV-like screen.

  • Urine test: A sample of your urine is collected and sent to a lab for tests.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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