What Causes STI’s?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are caused by various infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. These infections are typically spread through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral sex) with an infected person. Here are some common pathogens that cause STIs and how they are transmitted:

  • Bacteria:
    • Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis): Chlamydia is a common bacterial STI that can infect the genital tract, as well as the throat and rectum. It is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse or oral sex with an infected partner.
    • Gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae): Gonorrhea is another bacterial STI that can affect the genital, rectal, and throat areas. It is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.
    • Syphilis (Treponema pallidum): Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can progress through different stages, each with distinct symptoms. It is usually transmitted through direct contact with syphilis sores (chancres) during sexual activity.
  • Viruses:
    • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a group of viruses that can cause genital warts and various cancers, including cervical cancer. It is highly contagious and spreads through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.
    • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): HSV can cause genital herpes, which results in painful sores or blisters in the genital or anal area. It is transmitted through direct contact with the infected area during sexual activity or through oral-genital contact.
    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). It is primarily spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes with an infected person, or from mother to child during childbirth or breastfeeding.
    • Hepatitis B and C: These viruses can be transmitted through sexual contact if there is exposure to infected blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. Sharing needles and sexual contact with an infected person are common modes of transmission.
  • Parasites:
    • Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas vaginalis): This parasitic infection can affect the genital and urinary tract. It is spread through sexual contact with an infected person.
  • Fungi:
    • Yeast Infections: Candida species can cause yeast infections in the genital area, mouth (thrush), or other parts of the body. Sexual transmission is possible, but yeast infections are more often associated with other factors, such as a weakened immune system or antibiotic use.

It’s important to note that many STIs can be asymptomatic, meaning infected individuals may not display any symptoms. Regular STI testing, safe sexual practices (including condom use), and open communication with sexual partners are essential steps to reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting STIs.

If you suspect you have an STI or are at risk, it is crucial to seek medical attention for testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Many STIs can be effectively treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications when detected early. Additionally, vaccines are available to protect against certain STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B.

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