Did you know that the most common STDs among women and men aren’t the same? Physiological differences make women more likely to get a sexually transmitted infection (and less likely to exhibit symptoms in its early stages).
A number of STDs are very common among men. And while some of them also affect women, others have a disproportionately high gender-related component.
Very often, the STDs that are more common among men remain asymptomatic – a fact that increases the risk of transmission. Still, there are ways to learn if you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Keeping track of your sexual behaviour, being responsible towards yourself and your partner and understanding the typical symptoms are all important.
Men who become infected with chlamydia may spend months not knowing they have the condition (for women, the asymptomatic period can actually continue for years). At the same time, the prevalence of chlamydia is quite high. Population-based studies suggest that anywhere between 0.1 to 12.1 per cent of the male population will contract the condition over the course of their lifetime.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, which means it’s fairly easy to cure with the right kind of antibiotic.
The bacterium itself spreads easily through all kinds of sexual activity. Anal, oral and vaginal sex can all contribute to the risk of contracting chlamydia, especially if barrier contraception isn’t being used.
Some studies suggest that up to 50 per cent of the men who have chlamydia aren’t going to exhibit any symptoms.
When symptoms eventually occur, they include pain when urinating, swollen testicles and penile discharge. In rare cases, chlamydia may also cause bleeding. Chlamydia can often cause urethritis, infections of the testes and epididymis (the tubes that connect the testes to the vas deferens).
It’s imperative for sexually active men to get tested for chlamydia often enough. If an active infection is detected, both the tested individual and their sexual partners will need to get treatment. Keep in mind that you can get chlamydia once again after going through an original infection and a treatment.
Another bacterial condition, gonorrhoea also tends to be very common among both men and women.
Gonorrhoea is transmitted during all kinds of unprotected sexual activity. Like chlamydia, it can cause urethritis in men. As a result, the symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhoea are similar – painful urination, penile discharge and testicular pain. A rash in the groin region may also occur but it’s a less common symptom.
Various types of antibiotics can be used to cure gonorrhoea successfully. The earlier the infection is detected, the easier the treatment’s going to be. Untreated gonorrhoea can spread to the blood or even the joints. If this happens, a more complex treatment approach will have to be employed. In some instances, gonorrhoea that remains untreated for too long can cause infertility in men.
HIV occurs much more often among men than it does among women.
In 2018, men accounted for 81 per cent of the new HIV diagnoses (the statistics come from the US but other countries and regions have registered similar trends). Out of all male diagnoses, 86 per cent were attributed to men having sex with other men.
As the name suggests, the condition is caused by a virus. The human immunodeficiency virus replicates by attacking cells linked to an adequate immune response. In time, the immune system becomes compromised and incapable of fighting off infections. That is when a person progresses from being HIV-positive to having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
In the past, HIV used to be a death sentence. This is no longer the case. Medical advances like antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV pre-exposure (HIV PrEP) and HIV post-exposure (HIV PEP) prophylaxis are all viable options. The treatment is so successful that many HIV-positive individuals eventually move on to having undetectable viral load. With early HIV detection through HIV testing and prompt treatment, a person who is HIV-positive can lead a long and healthy life.
HIV is a condition that doesn’t cause specific symptoms in its early stages.
Some people who get HIV may exhibit flu-like symptoms in the beginning (about two to four weeks after becoming infected). When the virus supresses the immune system, more serious symptoms will become evident – unusual and frequent infections, even cancer are common among people with AIDS.
Human papillomavirus infections (HPV) are often discussed because they are the primary cause of cervical cancer in women. Men can also get HPV and while the infection usually clears on its own in a couple of years, it can still lead to some issues.
Most men with HPV do not have symptoms. This, however, doesn’t mean they can’t pass the virus on to a partner.
In the event of getting symptoms, these will most often include genital warts. The high risk strains that cause cervical cancer in women increase the risk of penile, throat and anus cancer in men.
It’s very important to understand the fact that an HPV vaccine exists and it’s highly effective. The vaccine is recommended for both men and women due to the fact that HPV is one of the most common STDs among the general population.
The last STD worth mentioning because it’s especially widespread among guys is genital herpes.
Symptoms can occur in a couple of weeks after the infection occurs. They include the appearance of small water blisters that are often confused for another skin condition.
Men could also experience the appearance of penile and testicular blisters, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, fever and a general sense of malaise.
While HSV doesn’t cause serious problems, it is very easy to pass on to a partner. Transmission is possible both when a person is symptomatic and when they have no signs of the condition at all.
STDs are on the rise in many parts of the world and Singapore isn’t an exception.
If you want to protect yourself and the people that you care about, do get tested regularly. There are easily available screening options that can detect various kinds of STDs.
Visit Shim Clinic or contact us now if you’d like to learn a bit more about getting tested. Our clinicians will consult you and suggest safe sexual practices, prevention and treatment options that are in line with your specific circumstances.