Sexually transmitted infections, which ones and what they are.

They are often without symptoms, but if STDs are left untreated, they can affect your health. Doctor Rossella Nappi explains how to stay away from it. According to WHO estimates, every year, there are about 357 million new cases of STD Tests. In recent years, the age of onset has dropped. As many as one in 20 teenagers has contracted a bacterial infection through sexual contact. In reality, there could be many more HPV Virus Test cases.

«Many of these infections occur asymptomatically, especially in men. Only when the appearance of lesions, as in genital herpes, or discharge, like in gonorrhoea, is the infection documented with certainty, specifies Rossella Nappi. Rosella Nappis is a full professor of the obstetric and gynaecological HPV clinic section from IRCCS Policlinico S. Matteo, University of Pavia. “The most important data concerns infections of the HPV family, a set of viruses including some with high oncogenic power, which affects up to 70% of sexually active subjects of both sexes”, continues the expert.

How Contagion occurs «The contagion of this type of STD disease occurs sexually through any type of intercourse (vaginal, anal, oral) without the protection of a condom following contact with infected sperm, vaginal secretions, blood, saliva», explains Dr Rossella Nappi.

Wearing it incorrectly, taking it off too soon, forgetting it in your bag or backpack, not checking the expiry date and packaging: these and other missteps to avoid with condoms.

Condoms, 9 mistakes not to make

Please check the packaging. It is always key to check its integrity. The outside one is made of cardboard, like a single condom. If it is damaged or has holes, throw away the condom.

There are conditions for the packaging, external and single. There is the expiry date, which, of course, is always very long, but who knows? Maybe those condoms had been in the drawer (or at the bottom of the bag) for too long. In addition to these, there are also logistical and chronological errors, so to speak: that is, wearing the condom after starting intercourse or placing it incorrectly. Again, wrong direction. And so on.

In short, using condoms is not as simple as you think.

Especially use them well to minimise the risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases like HPV. The rush, the excitement, the speed, perhaps the darkness, and the fear of ruining everything due to too much hesitation can lead to wearing them the wrong way or forgetting to check their integrity.

For example, the NGO Brook has estimated that 75% of people make many of the mistakes listed at the beginning and also several others, such as taking it off before ejaculating, unrolling it completely before putting it on (it’s not a sock!) or using a forgotten one. In my bag for weeks. So, not only is using a condom a good and right thing.

It is only if the use is correct.

The condom remains the only contraceptive method that also protects against diseases. It has a protection index that rises to 97% if used right and follows the prescriptions (for which a few seconds of attention are enough). According to some data released by Durex last year, only one sexually active Italian in five uses a condom. Regular users do not rise above 14%, with a decline in sales yearly. Yet the risks, above all HIV infection, have far from disappeared.

The factors that favour its onset “Contagion occurs through risky relationships not protected by a condom from the beginning of the sexual act, with multiple and non-habitual partners. Furthermore, for some STD infections, such as chlamydia and gonococcus, there may also be transmission from mother to newborn during childbirth or already directly in utero, as for syphilis”, says the expert.

 “Sometimes the diagnosis is obvious because clear clinical signs of infection appear.”

“In other cases, it happens by chance during an HPV test visit, such as blood tests or vaginal, endocervical, and urethral swabs, as well as sperm. Furthermore, the routine execution of the HPV Pap test, possibly with the direct human papillomavirus test, can lead to an early diagnosis and prevention of possible cervical dysplasia, as well as other precancerous lesions that also affect males at the penis, anus or oropharynx,” says Dr Rossella Nappi.

Sexually transmitted infections (STDs) account for a large group of infectious diseases widespread throughout the world. Many of them can cause acute symptoms, chronic infections, and serious long-term complications for millions of people every year. Those of whom treatments absorb huge economic resources. Young people between 15 and 24 years old represent the age group most exposed to the development of these pathologies.

Today, approximately thirty clinical pictures caused by over 20 sexually transmitted pathogens are known.

They often occur without symptoms. This increases the probability of Contagion to other healthy individuals and of chronicity. There are also possible consequences on the reproductive function (infertility). There is also a high risk of vertical transmission during pregnancy and at the time of birth.

Notoriously, STIs are closely associated with HIV infection through an epidemiological synergy that reinforces their mutual spread. People with STIs constitute a population at high risk of getting or transmitting HPV through persistent genital lesions, so much so that the WHO has recommended offering HPV testing to all people with an STD.