Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

Venereology is a branch of medicine that studies sexually transmitted diseases. The name origins from Roman Goddess Venus, which symbolizes love and fertility. A physician who studies venereology is a skin specialist, dermatologist.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are often recognised as taboo and carry social stigma. People are relunctant to tell their partners and come to a doctor only when they have symptoms. STD are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. They are a group of diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, fungal and parasites. Some of the common diseases are HIV infections, syphilis, gonorrhoea, candidiasis, herpes simplex, human papilloma virus infections, genital scabies and pubic lice infestations.

STD can be asymptomatic although the vast majority of people only come to seek treatment when they have symptoms. Symptoms can be ranging from genital discharges, genital warts, ulcers /blisters or genital itchiness. Sometimes the patient comes to doctor only after they partner is found to have STDs and is advised to come for screening.

STD, if not treated can be detrimental not just the patient, the patient’s partner and this will affect the baby as well if the patient is pregnant. Some of the STDs, for instance, syphilis can cause congenital syphilis if a pregnant mother is infected. If not treated properly, syphilis can progress to tertially syphilis which causes dementia in elderly stage. Other viral infection like human papilloma virus causes genital warts and increases the risk of cervical cancer among female patients. Some of the STD like Chlamydia infection also causes intrauterine infection which results in infertility.

To address the concerns of STD and offer a proper screening and counselling before patient goes for test, it is advisable to seek a physician who is trained in diagnosing and treating the diseases. Majority of the STDs are treatable with proper diagnosis and treatment.

This article is by Dr Kho Wee Ming, Resident Consultant Dermatologist and Physician at Timberland Medical Centre.

*The information in this article is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. You should consult your health care provider if you have or suspect you may have a health problem.