Your complete guide to STDs and Reproductive Health


Last Updated June 13th, 2021

STDs – Stay aware, stay safe

STDs are sexually transmitted diseases; diseases where the infectious pathogens are transmitted via oral, vaginal, or anal sex. The bodily fluids present in these body parts are the ones infested by bacteria, virus, and parasites that pass on from an infected person to a healthy person via sexual contact. In addition to saliva, semen, and vaginal fluid, blood could also be an infectious carrier of STDs.  While sexual contact is the primary channel through which STD pathogens spread, these infections can also spread via infected blood transfusions and placental connections.

In simple words, there are three main channels that are involved in the vigorous spread of STDs – unprotected sexual contacts, infected blood transfusion, and from infected mother to the fetus. Sexually transmitted diseases are one of the most common forms of infection prevalent globally. The ones exceeding STDs in terms of the number of cases are lower respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, and malaria.

There are more than 498 million human beings on this planet (within the age-group of 15 to 49 years) who are affected by STDs every year! In the USA alone, more than 20 million cases of STDs are reported annually.  There are more than 25 different types of STDs known – such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, AIDS and many more. Out of these, the cure for HIV/AIDS still eludes the medical community making it a highly contagious and deadly infection.

STDs: Some shocking facts

STDs are also called venereal diseases; the name venereal having been derived from “Venus” – the Roman goddess of love. These infectious and largely debilitating conditions can manifest a wide spectrum of symptoms. Ranging from simple discomfort felt in the groin area such as itching and swelling to extremely disabling (and probably fatal symptoms) such as tumors and pneumonia, STD pathogens can rapidly hijack your body’s immune system and cause widespread mayhem.

With rapid strides in the world on antibiotics, better knowledge on how STDs spread, and enough awareness on safe sexual practices, one would assume that the incidence of STDs would have come down drastically. However, recent studies prove otherwise. Let us take a quick look at how vast and deep-rooted these conditions have become in the past few years.

  • Among all the 1st world countries, the USA seems to be witnessing an unprecedented surge in the number of STD cases. Between 2000 and 2016, there has been a whopping 98% rise in the rates of chlamydia. Since 2009, gonorrhea has increased by almost 67%. The number of syphilis cases has almost doubled.
  • MSM (or men who have sex with men) contribute to 70% of all cases of syphilis. 45% of all cases of chlamydia were observed in young women (15-24 years).
  • Women are more vulnerable to STDs because a shorter urethra allows easy passage of bacteria and parasites into the body. In fact the risk of STD among women is 10 times more than that in men.
  • There are more than 1.5 million new cases of HIV/AIDS reported every year. 70% of all cases of AIDS are concentrated in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.

Common STDs & associated health conditions: What do they look like?

Syphilis

One of the oldest recorded STDs, syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. This chronic infection can severely debilitate the central nervous system too. In the initial stages, it resembles a benign rash or a lesion that can occur anywhere in the body, including the eye. This quickly progresses to reddish-brown colored sores that start appearing in the mouth, vagina, and the anus. The patient feels fatigued, numbness in the body, severe eye irritation, and loss of muscle coordination.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a viral infection caused by the HSV (herpes simplex virus). It is mainly characterized by blisters present in the genitals which gradually spread to the buttocks, inner thighs, and even the eyes. The sores can cause permanent damage to the eyes leading to blindness. The patient experiences excruciating pain upon urination and bleeding where the blisters are present.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most dangerous STDs to occur among females. This can lead to serious damage to the female reproductive system causing pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and even infertility. The most notable symptom of this infection is an inflammation in the groin area followed by abnormal discharge (both penile and vaginal) and painful urination.  Women may observe bleeding during/after sexual intercourse. Conjunctivitis may concur with chlamydia since the bacterial infection can easily spread to the eye.

Cold sores

Another viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, cold sores or “herpes labialis” is characterized by pus-filled blisters appearing near the lips and nose. It is a highly contagious infection and as per WHO, 2/3rd of the entire global population (<50 years) carries this virus.  The blisters are reddish in color and cause extreme pain and discomfort. When they dry up, they leave behind scabs and scars. If these spread to the oral cavity, they can cause swelling and bleeding of gums.

Cervical polyps

A polyp is an abnormal fleshy growth. Cervical polyps are abnormal growths on the cervix (the passage between the vagina and the uterus). The main cause of such growths is chronic inflammation in the cervical region which is often a result of an untreated STD. The patient will experience unusually heavy periods and abnormal vaginal discharge. The polyps may obstruct the cervical region leading to infertility. Around 1% of cases can show precancerous signs if it gets infected by HPV (human papillomavirus), a highly contagious sexually transmitted virus.

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is the name given to the range of infections and vaginal conditions arising due to vaginal inflammation. The swelling, itching, and pain are not associated only with the vagina but also with the vulva and the cervix. STDs such as chlamydia and herpes alter the normal pH of the vagina leading to sticky vaginal discharge and foul smell. There is pus in the urine and abnormal vaginal bleeding as well.

Cervical Cysts

A cyst is somewhat similar to a polyp except for the fact that unlike polyp (which is a fleshy mass), a cyst often encloses a liquid (or semi-liquid) substance. Cervical cysts and cervical inflammation (cervicitis) are often associated with STDs such as gonorrhea and Trichomonas.  The HPV can cause mutations in the cells of the cervix (including the cysts and polyps) and may give rise to cervical cancer.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Any kind of vaginal bleeding that deviates from the normal menstrual cycle is medically termed as abnormal vaginal bleeding. Bleeding between periods, spotting, unusually heavy periods – all of these qualify as abnormal bleeding patterns. There is a long list of factors that can cause this but the most common ones are physical trauma, psychological stress, and STDs. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most obvious symptom of an STD or a miscarriage.

Prolapsed uterus

Prolonged labor, hormonal changes, and abnormal growths (such as polyps, cysts, and tumors) are the primary reasons why a uterus can weaken and prolapse. Owing to this anatomical defect, there are abnormal (and often painful) vaginal bleeding and extreme pain in the pelvic region. Frequent infections of the bladder, vagina, and uterus can also weaken the pelvic floor muscles leading to organ prolapse.

Fibroadenoma

Fibroadenoma is the most benign form of breast cancer in women. It is usually removed via surgery if it grows in size and /or calcifies. Though this is strictly not associated with STDs, it is usually a result of hormonal changes that could be triggered by an infection.  Fluctuations in the hormone estrogen are believed to be responsible for the formation of such lumps. Both estrogen and progesterone are linked to healthy vaginal flora. Thus, any disruption in the level could make you more vulnerable to STDs.

Blue waffle

This interestingly named infection is actually a fictional STD that is purported to cause the vagina to turn blue in color. It is also believed that a blue waffle infected female develops are a strong stench in the vaginal region. The supposedly main causes for the spread of blue waffle disease are multiple sexual partners and lack of hygiene. There is absolutely no medical evidence that supports its existence.

Blue balls

Blue balls or epididymal hypertension is a rather painful condition of the testicles where the male genitals retain enough blood owing to arousal which is not released via an orgasm. However, testicular pain is not limited to this particular reason only. There are several venereal diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea that can lead to similar pain and discomfort.  Other reasons include – hernia, hydrocele, and even kidney stones. The best way to obtain relief from this pain is to attain a release through ejaculation. If the cause of testicular pain is an STD, as mentioned above, it would be wise to take the help of antibiotics and natural supplements as discussed later.

The best, easy, and  most effective remedies for STDs

The best way to prevent the rapid spread of STDs is, undoubtedly, practicing safe sex. This includes using protection every time you indulge in oral, anal, and vaginal sex.  One should keep their genital area clean both before and after intercourse. Always be aware of your partner’s sexual history and avoid indulging in intimate sexual activities with multiple partners. However, none of these methods guarantee 100% protection from STDs.

In case, you or your partner is experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is best to refer to a doctor at the earliest. The main course of treatment in most cases is antibiotic dosage or anti-viral medication. In addition to the prescribed medicines, there is a wide range of immunity-boosting foods and supplements that you can choose from to speed up the recovery process.

  • Garlic: Did you know one of the most common kitchen ingredients, garlic, can be your weapon in fighting off numerous STDs? Well-known for its strong anti-microbial properties, this pungent pod packs in the power of antibiotics. It can effectively flush out infection-causing parasites and build your immunity against bacterial infections. Garlic is also used as a vaginal suppository for treating trichomoniasis in women.
  • Tea Tree Oil: This popular extract has gained wide popularity in the cosmetic industry. This essential oil has numerous health benefits; it can easily combat fungal and bacterial infections without inducing any side-effects. You can apply this oil topically on the infected skin areas to witness relief from the painful symptoms of syphilis. You can also add tea tree to your bathing water to treat trichomoniasis. It is especially effective in treating infections caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus).
  • Yogurt: Infections, be it sexually transmitted or otherwise, usually occur because our body’s natural immunity remains incapable of fighting off pathogens in the first place. There are a variety of reasons why this happens, but a faulty diet is one of them. A diet rich in sugar, processed foods, junk, trans fat etc tends to kill the healthy gut bacteria. To compensate for this, one must fill his/her diet with immunity-boosting foods such as yogurt. It contains lactobacillus strains of bacteria that can easily keep your urogenital region pathogen-free. In many experiments, it has been found that topical application of yogurt in case of yeast infections helps bring down the symptoms almost instantly.
  • Aloe Vera: Well-known for its instant cooling effects, aloe vera is yet another natural marvel that you can use to sooth the pain and itching associated with STDs. Aloe vera extract and gel can be safely applied to sores, blisters, and rashes which are very common in case of sexually transmitted infections. It can also be consumed orally to enhance immunity from within. Additionally, topical applications of Aloe Vera gel on syphilis scars and wounds can help get rid of them effectively. Not to mention, numerous studies have indicated the high efficacy of using aloe vera extract in treating genital HSV infections.
  • Ashwagandha: This wonder herb has been long associated with Ayurveda. The powdered form of the ashwagandha root is widely used to treat conditions of erectile dysfunction and menstrual irregularities. This plant’s extract is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial in nature. Thus, taking ashwagandha supplements for STDs can help you obtain relief from inflammation and also reduce bacterial growth. Today, it is widely employed in treating the symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Oil of Oregano: Sexually transmitted infections often cause inflammation. To combat this symptom, one needs to take the help of anti-inflammatory extracts. Oil of oregano is one such natural substance that contains strong bactericidal properties. Its main constituent, thymol is a strong antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal agent. The oil can be either directly applied to the sores and lesions or consumed by diluting a few drops of oil in one cup of water. It is a well-known natural antibiotic and is widely used to treat STDs and other infections, such as pneumonia, too.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics are regarded as one of the oldest means of combating infections and boosting immunity. It refers to a unique group of foods that are enriched with healthy gut bacteria. Foods that are prepared by fermentation such as kefir and Greek yogurt are naturally endowed with probiotic powers. You can opt to eat foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread or take probiotic supplements to help speed up the treatment of STDs. Once the healthy bacteria enter your system, it can effectively get rid of the pathogen population from your body.
  • Berberine: Numerous studies suggest that adding high-quality Berberine supplement in addition to antibiotics can largely speed up the treatment process, especially for gonorrhea. Berberine is a bright yellow-colored substance derived from turmeric and barberry tree. This particular extract works by destroying the bacterial biofilm (a thin film that protects bacteria) and by increasing the efficacy of the current antibiotic course. Most doctors prescribe 500 mg supplements 3 times a day to fight the STD symptoms.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice and just like any other fermented food it is a storehouse of immunity-boosting compounds. Since ancient times, ACV has been credited with treating and curing a number of infections, including the sexually transmitted ones.  Today, it is considered to be a popular home remedy for treating gonorrhea. There are multiple ways in which you can include ACV in your daily routine to obtain the best results. One is to apply ACV directly on the affected skin with the help of cotton. Second is to add ACV to your bathwater and soak in that water for at least 20 minutes. Thirds is to soak an organic tampon in ACV and using it to kill a bacterial infection. Additionally, consumption of ACV can help boost your immunity from within and deter the microbial growth.
  • Raw honey: Honey is one of the oldest known natural sweeteners and is endowed with a large number of healing properties. It is natural humectants (helps in retaining moisture) and kills disease-causing pathogens. A component of raw honey, Bee Propolis, is observed to possess high antiseptic and healing properties that are especially suited for treating STDs. Honey and its extracts are being successfully used to treat a wide range of STDs such as syphilis, canker sores, herpes etc. The main component of honey not only soothes the inflamed skin (due to rashes, lesions, and boils) but also suppresses bacterial growth from spreading.
  • Baking Soda: Most STDs and infections cause severe irritation and itching of the skin. Topical application of baking soda can help treat the itching associated with these infections. Baking soda is naturally antimicrobial in nature and can help obtain relief from the itchy symptoms. One must always dilute it with few drops of water and use it as a paste as opposed to using it directly on the skin.

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Sputum test Sputum test is a commonly used diagnostic tool that is used to examine the presence of pathogens in…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
How cooking with CLA safflower oil can help you lose weight? Read and discover more about CLA safflower oil and how it can aid faster fat metabolism in people…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
erythropoetin test
Erythropoietin (EPO) Test Erythropoietin stimulates the production of RBCs in bone marrow. An erythropoietin test is done to diagnose blood disorders…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Hearing aid
Don’t let your hearing dip with age. Here’s what you need to do How often do you take care of the sensory organ that brings to you the gift of sound…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Cilantro: 11 health reasons that will make you wanna use this garnish more! Call it cilantro or coriander, it remains as every chef's favorite garnish. How can this fresh tasting sprig…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
SHBG test
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) Test SHBG is an important sex hormone that is linked to testosterone in men and estrogen in women. Abnormal…
dhea adrenal
Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
5 htp brain
5-htp: Is this the ultimate cure for those pesky migraines attacks? 5-htp is a supplement that is extracted from the plant Griffonia simplicifoli.  It is an amino acid that helps…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Hot cups for detox? Read all about the ancient technique of cupping Did you know inverted hot cups on your back can squeeze out and eject toxins from your body?…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
arterial-blood-gas
Arterial Blood Gas Analysis Arterial blood gas analysis is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide…
ketoacidosis diabetes
HB1Ac Test HB1Ac test is an important blood test that is used to measure the levels of glycated hemoglobin in…