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Dr. Drew Discusses STD's      
  sexual healing · safe sex · dr. drew

   I believe that adolescents should have a basic understanding of sexually transmitted diseases. They are really very simple to understand and very simple to detect. You should go to the doctor with any symptoms that suggest a possibility of a sexually transmitted disease.

HPV, the human papillomavirus (or warts) is probably the most common STD. Estimates vary, but between ten and forty percent of sexually active young adults are infected with warts. The virus tends to be “self limited” -- that is to say it tends to go away with time, but it is associated with risk for cervical cancer in women.

In men, HPV does not seem to have any long-term consequences; however, men can be infectious even when they do not see a virus present. Any pain with urination after a sexual encounter can be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and urethritis are all bacterial infections of the genital tract. Sometimes associated with discharge or bad pain in the pelvis or bad pain in the testes. These, in fact, if untreated can have complications. For example, many people don’t realize there is an infectious arthritis associated with gonorrhea.

In women, these infections can get into the higher reaches of the genital tract, and into the tubes and can cause something called pelvic inflammatory disease. This can cause abscesses and even death, and is often associated with fertility problems. With men, the infection can get into the prostate -- called prostatitis-- and even into the testes, commonly called epidedivitis.

Syphilis is still around. It will present as a painless ulcer at the region of contact. The ulcer will go away within a week or so, then a rash often appears, and that too may go away. The serious complication of syphilis is that following the rash, the infection may get into the brain and cause an Alzheimer-like dementia. But, an ulcer at a region of contact (your genitals) that is painful should be considered herpes until proven otherwise.

Herpes often cause a flu-like syndrome before the rash and swelling of the lymph nodes in the region of the groin where the infection has occurred. Herpes can itself have complications. Herpes can infect other parts of the skin -- although it is more difficult to contract there -- or it can cause a very serious infection of the eye.

Awareness of HIV is very high these days and people understand that it can be transmitted through fluid contact. Sometimes people forget that Hepatitis C is a potentially sexually transmitted disease that is becoming increasingly more common. The majority of cases develop chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Young people should be aware there are some infections of the vagina called vaginitis that are thought to be relatively benign. The most common infection is a yeast infection. Thrichimotis is also a vaginitis.

--Dr. Drew Pinsky

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