How Can Itching Be Transmitted Sexually?

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Itching in the genital area can be caused by a number of conditions. If left untreated, these infections can lead to long-term health problems.

This article will discuss STIs that cause itching as well as other common symptoms, how each infection is diagnosed and treated, and natural remedies. The following STDs can cause itching in the vulva or vagina of women and in the penis or anal region of men: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, and Trichomoniasis.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STD caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It spreads through unprotected sex. You can also get it by touching infected body fluids, such as semen or vaginal discharge. Unlike chlamydia and herpes, you don’t need to ejaculate to spread gonorrhea.

In women, gonorrhea can infect the uterus and fallopian tubes (egg canals). This causes pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID may cause infertility and increase a woman’s risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening for both mother and baby. Gonorrhea can also spread to the prostate or the epididymis, causing inflammation that affects sperm production and increases a man’s risk of infertility.

Men and women who develop gonorrhea may have symptoms such as a painful, burning sensation when they urinate or a heavy, yellow or green vaginal discharge. The infection can also affect the throat and urethra, causing a sore throat and pain during urination. Some people may have no symptoms and only be diagnosed by a doctor based on history, or by a routine test for sexually transmitted diseases. Pregnant women should be tested for gonorrhea regularly.

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Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of four bacterial infections classified as sexually transmitted diseases. It can be spread via vaginal, anal or oral sex. The bacteria can also infect the throat, eyes or rectum. Symptoms of genital chlamydia include a pink, pus-like discharge from the anus or vagina and painful urination. Eye infections, called conjunctivitis, cause redness in the inner surface of the eyelids. Infections of the urethra and rectum, called chlamydia trachomatis, can have no symptoms or may include rectal pain, swelling or bleeding.

Symptoms of chlamydia can take weeks, months or years to show up. The infection can be passed between partners without either knowing it. The disease is most common in teen and young adult women or people assigned female at birth (AFAB). It is important to screen for chlamydia in this group, especially those aged 15-24.

In women, if untreated, chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This causes pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause long-term pelvic pain and infertility. In men, chlamydia can also spread to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, leading to erectile dysfunction and pain in the scrotum.

Herpes

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) can be spread by touching sores or the fluid from them, especially when they’re open and wet. HSV can also be spread through unprotected sex and by sharing items that have touched a sore.

The first outbreak of herpes is usually painful and causes blisters in or around the lips, inside the mouth or on the genitals. It can also cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches and swollen glands in the groin area or neck. People can have repeated herpes infections (called recurrences) that are shorter and less severe than the first.

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Pain caused by herpes sores can be treated with medicines such as Tylenol or Motrin. Ice packs can help reduce the discomfort and swelling. Medicines to numb the area may be prescribed for oral herpes, and it’s important to wear gloves when going to the dentist if you have this infection. A person with herpes can get infected again by exposure to sunlight, fever, physical injury, surgery and menstruation, as well as suppression of the immune system by drugs or emotional stress.

HIV

HIV spreads through bodily fluids like blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. It also spreads through unprotected sex, including oral and anal sex, or by sharing drug injection equipment that has been contaminated with HIV-infected blood. It can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.

HIV destroys the body’s CD4 T cells, which are key to fighting infection. As more and more of these cells are destroyed, the immune system becomes weaker. This can lead to serious infections of the eye, digestive tract, lungs and central nervous system.

Most STIs are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Bacterial STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis spread from one person to another through close contact or the exchange of bodily fluids. Viruses and parasites spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as during oral, anal or vaginal sex or by sharing personal items like razors or toothbrushes. The herpes simplex viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 cause genital herpes. They can also cause sores in the mouth and throat (oral herpes) and blisters on the genitals (genital herpes). Some people with herpes have no symptoms, especially when they are younger or have been taking antiviral drugs.

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Syphilis

Syphilis is an STD that can be transmitted during oral, anal or vaginal sex or through pregnancy. It can cause long-term damage to the body, including nerves, muscles, eyes and bones. It also increases your risk of getting HIV infection.

The first stage of syphilis, called primary syphilis, begins with a sore called a chancre. These painless sores can show up anywhere on the body, but they typically appear on or inside the mouth, genitals, anus or rectum. They may last for up to 3 weeks. If the chancre goes away without treatment, you are no longer infectious and can’t transmit the bacteria to others.

The second stage of syphilis, called secondary syphilis, starts about 2 to 4 months after the infection. In this stage, you might have a rough red or brown rash on your palms or soles, sores in the mouth or around the anus, and a painful swollen gland near the anus or rectum. If you don’t seek treatment, the syphilis infection can go on to a third stage, called tertiary syphilis, which can cause serious problems in your body, including damage to the brain, eyes and heart.

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