General Practice 2022

IST´s in women: main symptoms, causes and what to do

Table of contents:

IST´s in women: main symptoms, causes and what to do
IST´s in women: main symptoms, causes and what to do

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), formerly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections caused by microorganisms transmitted during intimate contact, so they should be avoided with the use of condoms. These infections cause very uncomfortable symptoms in women, such as burning, vaginal discharge, bad smell or the appearance of wounds in the intimate region.

When observing any of these symptoms, the woman should go to the gynecologist for a thorough clinical observation, which may indicate the presence of infections such as Trichomoniasis, Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, for example, or request tests. After unprotected contact, the infection can take some time to manifest, which can be around 5 to 30 days, which varies according to each microorganism.To learn more about each type of infection and how to confirm it, check out all about STIs.

After identifying the causative agent, the doctor will confirm the diagnosis and advise on the treatment, which can be done with antibiotics or antifungals, depending on the disease in question. In addition, it is important to know that, sometimes, some symptoms mentioned above are not directly related to STIs, and may be an infection caused by the alteration of the vagina flora, as is the case of candidiasis, for example.

Some of the main symptoms that can appear in women with STIs are:

1. Burning or itching in the vagina

The sensation of burning, itching or pain in the vagina can arise from both skin irritation due to infection, as well as the formation of sores, and may be accompanied by redness in the intimate region. These symptoms may be constant or worse when urinating or during intimate contact.

Causes: some STIs responsible for this symptom are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, Trichomoniasis or Genital Herpes, for example.

These symptoms do not always indicate an STI, and may also be situations such as allergies or dermatitis, for example, so whenever these symptoms appear, it is important to go through the evaluation of the gynecologist who will be able to perform the clinical examination and collect tests for confirm the cause. Check out our quick test to help pinpoint the cause of your itchy vagina and what to do.

2. Vaginal discharge

The vaginal discharge of STIs is usually yellowish, greenish or brown in color, usually accompanied by other symptoms such as a bad odor, burning or redness. It must be distinguished from the physiological secretion, common in all women, which is clear and odorless, and appears up to about 1 week before menstruation.

Causes: STIs that usually cause discharge are Trichomoniasis, Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or Candidiasis.

Each type of infection may present with discharge with its own characteristics, which may be greenish-yellow in Trichomoniasis, or brown in Gonorrhea, for example. Understand what each color of vaginal discharge can indicate and how to treat it.

In addition, it should be remembered that candidiasis, although it can be sexually transmitted, is an infection that is more associated with changes in the pH and bacterial flora of women, especially when it appears frequently, and conversations should be carried out. with the gynecologist about ways to avoid it.

3. Pain during intimate contact

Pain during intercourse can indicate an infection, as STIs can cause injuries or inflammation of the vaginal mucosa. Although there are other causes for this symptom, it usually arises from changes in the intimate region, so medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. In infection, this symptom may be accompanied by discharge and odor, but it is not a rule.

Causes: some possible causes include in addition to injuries caused by Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Candidiasis, in addition to injuries caused by Syphilis, Soft Cancer, Genital Herpes or Donovanosis, for example.

In addition to infection, other possible causes of pain in intimate contact are lack of lubrication, hormonal changes or vaginismus. Learn more about the causes of pain during intimate contact and how to treat it.

4. Bad smell

The bad odor in the vaginal area usually appears during infections, and they are also associated with poor intimate hygiene.

Causes: STIs that can cause a bad odor are usually caused by bacteria, as in bacterial vaginosis, caused by Gardnerella vaginalis or other bacteria. This infection causes a characteristic odor of rotting fish.

Learn more about what it is, the risks and how to treat bacterial vaginosis.

5. Sores in the genital organ

Genital sores, ulcers or warts are also characteristic of certain STIs, which may be visible in the vulva area or may be hidden inside the vagina or cervix. These lesions do not always cause symptoms, they can worsen over time, and in some cases even increase the risk of cervical cancer, so periodic evaluation with the gynecologist is recommended to detect this change early.

Causes: Genital ulcers are usually caused by Syphilis, Soft Cancer, Donovanosis or Genital Herpes, whereas warts are usually caused by the HPV virus.

6. Lower belly pain

Pain in the lower belly can also indicate an STI, as the infection can reach not only the vagina and cervix, but also spread to the inside of the uterus, fallopian tubes and even the ovary, causing endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Causes: This type of symptom can be caused by Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Mycoplasma, Trichomoniasis, Genital Herpes, Bacterial Vaginosis or infections by bacteria that can affect the region.

Learn more about the troubling pelvic inflammatory disease, and its risks to women's he alth.

Watch the following video in which nutritionist Tatiana Zanin and Dr. Drauzio Varella talk about STIs and discuss ways to prevent and/or cure the infection:

Other types of symptoms

It is important to remember that there are other STIs, such as HIV infection, which do not cause genital symptoms, and may present with different symptoms, such as fever, malaise and headache, or hepatitis, which causes fever, -being, tiredness, abdominal pain, joint pain and skin rashes.

As these diseases can get worse silently, until they reach serious conditions that put the person's life at risk, it is important that the woman periodically undergo screening tests for this type of infection, talking to a gynecologist.

It should be remembered that the main way to avoid these diseases is to use condoms, and that other contraceptive methods do not protect against these infections.In addition to the male condom, there is the female one, which also provides good protection against STIs. Take your doubts and learn how to use the female condom.

How to treat

In the presence of symptoms that indicate an STI, it is very important to go to the gynecologist to confirm if it is an infection, after clinical examination or tests, and to indicate the appropriate treatment.

Although most STIs can be curable, treatment involves the use of drugs such as antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals, in ointments, pills or injections, according to the type and microorganism causing the infection, in In some cases, such as HIV, hepatitis and HPV, a cure is not always possible. Learn how to treat the main STIs.

In addition, in many cases, the partner also needs to undergo treatment, to avoid reinfections. Know how to also identify the symptoms of STIs in men.

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