STI abbreviation means sexually transmitted infection. STIs are diverse and cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Such infections can be hidden and be chronic or they can be acute with severe symptoms and a clinical picture.
What is related to STIs in men?
Most sexually transmitted infections affect both men and women, and more specifically their reproductive system and urogenital tract. There are many classifications of STIs. The most understandable and common - classification by pathogen that caused the disease.
The following sexually transmitted infections can be distinguished:
- Viral. HPV or human papillomavirus; HIV infection causing acquired immunodeficiency with the subsequent transition to AIDS; genital warts; herpes virus
- Bacterial nature. Gonococcus, which causes gonorrhea; Treponema pale, causing syphilis; Mycoplasma causing mycoplasmosis, similar to Ureoplasma, causes ureoplasmosis and Chlamydia, causing chlamydia.
- Fungal infections. Fungal properties are possessed by fungi of the genus Candida and cause candidiasis of the urethral mucosa.
- Protozoal infections. These are infectious diseases caused by protozoa, such as trichomonas and, accordingly, the disease is called trichomoniasis.
- Parasitic infections. Parasitic infections are rare and largely depend on the quality of a man’s personal hygiene . Such infections include scabies and pubic pediculosis.
All these infections affect the reproductive system and the genital tract in men. This is especially true of men who have an active sex life with several partners. Currently, STIs are highly prevalent in countries with progressive growth and acquire high epidemiological significance.
Fig. 1 - Some of the sexually transmitted infections.
Most sexually transmitted pathogens are not sustainable in the environment. They are quickly destroyed or inactivated when exposed to environmental factors such as dry air, ultraviolet radiation, low or high temperatures. For this reason, the mode of transmission of such infections, most often, is sexual, rather than contact.
In addition to the main mode of transmission - sexual, different infections have a detrimental effect on the body in different ways. Some infections affect only the urogenital tract and have a local form of the disease: candidiasis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, ureoplasmosis, and others. However, the other part can cause systemic events with the defeat of many organs and systems. For example, when syphilis occurs ulceration on the penis, which is called the primary chancre, but the infection, entering the bloodstream, spreads to all organs and tissues, where it is fixed and begins to multiply. In time, not detected and not cured syphilis becomes latent. Gradually, syphilis destroys most body tissues, including nervous and connective tissue.
The only symptom characteristic of HIV infection is lymphadenopathy - an increase in lymph nodes and frequent colds. Over time, HIV infection enters a stage of pronounced immunodeficiency. This stage is called “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” and is terminal.
Local diseases affecting the urogenital and reproductive systems of men
Such infections include gonococcus, chlamydia, uroplasm and mycoplasma, as well as fungi of the genus Candida.
These infections are characterized by damage to the external and internal genital organs of a man. Diseases can occur in acute form and cause inflammation of different parts of the urogenital tract - urethritis , prostatitis, epididymitis , vesiculitis. Viral infections, such as herpes virus and human papillomavirus, cause the formation of ulcers on the penis. They can also lead to benign and malignant neoplasms in the area of the penis, prostate and testicles. The presence of such tumors as genital warts is considered a typical lesion.
In the chronic form of STDs, there may be no clinical picture. In such a case, the flow is considered to be hidden.
Symptoms characteristic of STIs
For hidden infections affecting the male genital organs, there are characteristic symptoms. However, their severity depends on the individual properties of the organism and the pathogen itself. Despite this, most infectious agents cause similar and typical symptoms:
- Discharge from the urethral canal. The discharge can be both colorless and cheesy (whitish). The discharge may emit a sharp and specific unpleasant odor, which should already alert the man.
- Itching and burning. Discomfort in the groin and along the urethra is a clear sign of inflammation of the urethra and the presence of pathogenic flora in it.
- Pain syndrome. Pain may be in the groin, in the sacral area, in the scrotum or penis. Pain is caused by inflammation and swelling of the infected tissue. In some cases, the pain does not have a clear localization and are defined in the pelvic area. Pain can be dull aching and sharp cutting.
- Discomfort during intercourse and the process of ejaculation. Soreness during ejaculation occurs when the organs of the male reproductive system are affected (vesiculitis, orchitis, prostatitis).
If an STI is suspected, the urologist will prescribe a standard diagnostic complex to carry out a differential diagnostic search and to make a clinical diagnosis.
Before starting treatment, the urologist examines and collects data about the disease and the patient's life. During the examination, the doctor conducts a physical examination with the definition of specific symptoms that help establish a preliminary diagnosis.
Since it takes several days to complete a diagnostic examination, treatment begins with the use of antibiotic therapy and broad-spectrum antibiotics. The doctor prescribes symptomatic therapy aimed at eliminating inflammatory processes in the urogenital tract, pain syndrome and reducing tissue swelling. This approach significantly increases the effectiveness of the final pathogenetic (directed to the pathogen) therapy.
The standard instrumental and clinical laboratory tests include:
- Taking a smear from the urethra for subsequent bacteriological seeding.
- Bacteriological seeding and microscopy of the resulting cultures with the determination of sensitivity to antibiotics. The purpose of the stage is to establish the exact cause that led to the disease.
- Ultrasound diagnosis of the pelvic organs , prostate gland and scrotum.
- PCR diagnostics. Polymerase chain reaction allows you to find the causative agent of viral etiology and find out exactly how the patient is ill.
- ELISA. The enzyme immunoassay identifies specific pathogens and intracellular parasites that are not detected when smears are taken from the surface of the urethral canal.
The above studies help to establish the final diagnosis and start pathogenetic - highly effective therapy of the disease. And ultrasound diagnostics, complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and urinalysis will tell about the course and severity of the disease. This largely forms the ongoing drug therapy.
For effective and complete treatment of STIs resort to complex therapy:
- antibacterial therapy;
- treatment with local drugs;
- antiviral and immunomodulatory therapy;
- treatment aimed at eliminating symptoms.
Most sexually transmitted diseases are completely treatable . HIV infection, herpes virus and human papillomavirus infection are considered incurable . These infections cannot be completely removed from the body. But with the observance of a correct lifestyle and timely course administration of supporting and antiviral drugs, it is possible to significantly reduce the rate of disease progression.
Infections of bacterial origin respond well to antibiotic therapy using targeted (sensitive to a particular type of bacteria) antibiotics.
If you have symptoms of an STI, do not delay a visit to the urologist. Many sexually transmitted infections cause irreversible disturbances in the reproductive system of the male body, leading to serious and even life-threatening complications. Treatment of advanced and chronic forms of STDs entails long-term therapy, and then a recovery period.
Watch a video about common and dangerous STIs: