Sexually transmitted infections are a spectrum of medical conditions that are acquired exclusively via an intimate and unprotected sexual activity with an infected partner. Examples of STIs include; gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes etc. One of the reasons why STIs are spreading fast is because most partners are ignorant of vital signs that indicate the presence of an infection in their partner.
Currently, STIs are among the commonest medical condition affecting men and women in the reproductive age group. It is therefore important that as individuals, we become aware of common symptoms and signs of sexually transmitted diseases because it will aid in early self-diagnosis, identifying when a partner has STI and prompting early diagnosis and treatment. So what are the signs that suggest a partner may have been infected?
1. Pain during urination
This is usually a common symptom of sexually transmitted infections, caused by the ascension of bacteria from the reproductive organs into the bladder. This causes intense irritation of the inner lining of the bladder by toxins produced by the bacteria. This translates to intense burning sensation and pain during urination. When your partner complains of pain during urination or you notice it yourself, you may advise him or her to go for a test.
2. Discharge from the vagina or the penis
This is another important way to know if your partner has STI. It is common with gonorrhea infection in men which lead to a creamy white discharge from the penis with associated itching and intense pain on urination. If your partner complains or you notice any discharge from the vagina or the penis, then it is a solid pointer that he/she has STI.
3. Presence of sores around the genitals or the mouth
The presence of any sore around the mouth or the genitals should give a suspicion of STI. Mouth sore may be indicative of herpes infection especially in people who practice oral sex. Other STI like the dreaded syphilis infection also presents like a typical sore found on the penis or inside the vagina.
4. Painful sexual intercourse
With adequate foreplay, psychological readiness and increase fluid secretion by the cells lining the vagina, sexual intercourse should not be painful with a pleasurable experience. With STI, sex becomes painful due to the changes that occur with the vagina by the invading organisms. This can be as a result of dryness, internal sores, adhesions of surrounding structures commonly seen with PID and friability of the mucosa lining of the vagina. If your partner always complains of pain during sexual intercourse then it is advisable to consult a physician for proper assessment.
5. Itching around the genitals
This is an important sign that is often ignored by the patient and sexual partner. Studies have shown that more than 70% of genital itching without any other symptom turns out to be a sexually transmitted infection. This is caused by the local effect of the toxins produced by the bacteria on the cells of the affected area.
6. Strong/ offensive vaginal odour during sexual intercourse
Classically, the fishy odour experienced during sexual intercourse is highly suggestive of Bacterial Vaginosis. This is caused by certain organisms that colonize the internal reproductive organs of the female. The female reproductive organs should be devoid of any pungent, strong or offensive smell and as such, it is a way to know your partner may have STI.
7. Abnormalities of menstruation
It is very common to hear women complain of intermenstrual bleeding (vaginal bleeding between menses), heavy menstrual flow or painful menstruation, but very few people are aware that such symptoms may be indicative of an STI affecting the menstrual cycle of the patient. This also is a way to know if your partner has STI.
8. Swollen/painful testis
After unprotected sexual intercourse, micro-organisms may ascend into the testes from the urethra hence establishing an infection within the testes. This leads to severe pain and swollen testes. It is commonly accompanied with other symptoms like fever, anorexia, nausea and vomiting. However, swollen/ painful testes should be differentiated from twisting of the testis around its stalk because the latter is a medical emergency that needs a prompt surgical intervention. When you notice this condition in your partner, it’s a sign he’s probably infected.