Are there differences between sexually transmitted diseases (STD), sexually transmitted infections (STI), and sexually transmitted diseases? This question is asked by many patients who are faced with an intimate problem. Yes, there is a difference, but it is purely terminological in nature. STD is the collective name for all “unpleasant” diseases. STI is a purely microbiological concept. Thus, std testing is very important.
The list of STIs includes only 20 infections (bacterial and viral). Sexually transmitted diseases are a kind of metaphor that has historically been used to denote syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancre. The etymology of the term is quite transparent – the name originates from the name of the ancient Roman goddess of love Venus. Now the concepts of “STDs” and “sexually transmitted diseases” have become synonymous.
Sexually transmitted diseases are divided into two groups: old (classic), well-studied (gonorrhea, syphilis, cytomegalovirus infection, etc.) and new, not yet fully investigated (chlamydia, trichomoniasis, HPV, etc.). All of them are transmitted mainly sexually, have similar symptoms (discomfort during urination and/or intercourse, itching and pain in the genitals, discharge, possibly a change in body temperature).
If the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases is not started on time, they can affect not only the genitals, but also other organs, cause infertility, erectile dysfunction and even cancer. So you should know all about std symptoms.
The STD warnings & testing
It must be remembered that the presence of STD pathogens in the body increases the risk of HIV infection several times. At the same time, one should not believe in the widespread myth that certain sanitary and hygienic procedures (washing organs with miramistin, a weak solution of potassium permanganate, etc.) guarantee the destruction of viruses and bacteria. Thus, you can not only bring pathogens further into the body, but also get burns of the mucous membrane.
The consequences of developing STDs (crabs std) can be very serious, so if you notice any signs of infection, it is better to get tested right away so that treatment can begin on time.
What tests do women and men take for sexually transmitted diseases?
For research, you can donate a different biomaterial. The information content of the analysis, efficiency and other specific features depend on its type.
- A blood test is performed to determine the causative agent of the infection or antibodies to it, as well as to monitor the disease. The analysis is informative only a couple of weeks after infection, before that antibodies are not born in the blood. This is how syphilis, HIV, hepatitis are diagnosed.
- Analysis of urine allows you to determine if the urinary organs are infected, as well as the stage of the disease; with the help of this study, gonorrhea, candidiasis is diagnosed. The confidence level is high.
- Analysis of scraping of epithelial cells with high accuracy diagnoses ureaplasmosis, trichomoniasis, genital herpes. The method of collecting biomaterial can be somewhat painful in the acute course of the disease.
- Smear analysis reveals almost the same diseases as scraping, plus chlamydia. Taking biomaterial is quick and painless, but the information content of the analysis is reduced due to the fact that some diseases are “located” not on the external, but on the internal parts of the genital organs.
- Sperm analysis is highly informative, reflects a large number of parameters, and allows you to determine the presence of chlamydia, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, neisseria, etc.
Preparation for the delivery of biomaterial for analysis (STD testing)
To get the most accurate result, it is important to properly prepare for the delivery of biomaterial for analysis for STDs. For men and women, the recommendations are the same. If blood is donated as material, it must be done on an empty stomach.
Eating food or drinks (other than regular water) will distort the result. Also, experts recommend eating less fatty and fried two days before the sample, not drinking alcohol and not smoking. You also should check free std testing options.
If urine is required for the study, you need to refrain from sexual intercourse for a day, or better – two days before the analysis. It is necessary to collect urine in the morning – this affects the accuracy of the result. If you need to donate sperm, then, in addition to abstaining from sexual intercourse, it is important not to overcool or overheat for 3-4 days.
Before taking a smear, you also need to exclude sexual intercourse 1-2 days before the analysis and not go to the toilet room for 2-3 hours. A special recommendation for women: take a smear on one of the last days of menstruation, when there is still a slight discharge. Sometimes STDs are accompanied by rashes, which requires scraping from the site of the lesion. In this case, it is important not to lubricate the skin with anything three days before the analysis.
The general recommendation for taking any material for analysis for STDs is not to take antibiotics. Taking such drugs less than a month before the test will almost certainly make the result false. It is also better not to take samples during the course of any other infectious diseases, or to warn the doctor about it. Now the question what is std is not a new thing to you.
Biomaterial sampling for analysis
If the patient collects biomaterial for analysis for STDs himself, he must ensure that the containers are sterile and that the above recommendations are followed. If the material is collected at a medical facility, the following procedures will need to be completed:
- Blood sampling is usually done from a vein, but it happens that blood is taken from a finger.
- A smear is taken from the external parts of the genitals, scraping – from the internal (from the cervix and vagina in women and from the urethra in men).
- The procedure for taking prostate secretions, as we have already said, is more complicated. The doctor makes a massage of the prostate through the anus, if it turns out to be ineffective and the secret cannot be obtained, the patient is offered to pass urine.
Each type of biomaterial can be examined in several ways. There are four main methods of STD testing that can be done in modern clinics.
Methods of analysis for the detection of sexually transmitted diseases
Bacterioscopy. The material obtained as a result of taking a smear or scraping is placed on a sterile glass, dried and sent to the laboratory for research. Bacterioscopy reveals gardnerella, fungus, gonococci, etc. The level of accuracy of the analysis is quite high, the term for obtaining the result is from 15 minutes (express test) to 1 day.
Sowing (culture method). The biomaterial (blood, urine or mucus) is placed in a special environment in which microorganisms, if any, begin to multiply actively; the duration of the results (4-10 days) is compensated by the high accuracy of the study. The method allows you to identify the same organisms as bacterioscopy, plus ureaplasma, mycoplasma, etc.
PCR (polymerase chain reaction). This is the most sensitive and accurate analysis to date, while being very fast (about four hours). Blood is usually used as a material, in which DNA regions are identified, where pathogens are “based”. With the help of PCR, chlamydia, herpes, hepatitis, HIV and many other STDs are diagnosed.
ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is highly sensitive; the essence of the analysis is to detect antibodies of the causative agent of STDs in the blood by adding material to the medium with antigens; detects the same diseases as PCR; study duration – 1 day.
Interpretation of results
In some cases, the patient can evaluate the results of the analysis for sexually transmitted diseases on their own – by comparing them with normal ones. After bacterioscopy, information is obtained on the concentration of leukocytes, staphylococci and rods in the material. If there are more than 15 leukocytes, this means that an inflammatory process is taking place in the body. The presence of other foreign microorganisms in the sample may also indicate an STD infection.
During the inoculation analysis, the number of colonies of microorganisms in the material is counted – if there are more than 5×10 4/ml, then we are talking about STDs. With this method, the doctor also evaluates the effectiveness of the treatment.
In the case of using a qualitative PCR method, the result can be positive (the presence of the pathogen was detected) or negative (the infection was not detected). The quantitative PCR method allows you to establish the stage of development of the disease and monitor the process of recovery. For example, a concentration of hepatitis C virus in the blood.
As mentioned earlier, ELISA detects not the causative agents of STDs, but antibodies to them. The presence of a disease in the body will be indicated by the appearance of IgM antibodies at an early stage (5 days after infection), IgA at a later stage (appear 2–4 weeks after infection) and IgG – at 3–4 weeks after infection. Based on the analysis results, a form is issued containing information on the presence or absence of all of the above immunoglobulins.
Many people, noticing the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, postpone the visit to the doctor due to various reasons: fear, embarrassment, lack of time. But you should not be negligent about your health, because the sooner you turn to specialists for help, the faster and easier the treatment will be. In addition, delayed treatment of STDs can lead to inflammatory processes in other internal organs, which will make the therapy even longer and more expensive. Do not hope that the discomfort will go away on its own, contact a medical institution.