Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs) refer to infections of reproductive organs. These illnesses may occur due to poor genital hygiene, for example, poor menstrual hygiene among girls. RTIs include the illnesses that are transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact and are known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
These infections may be transmitted during vaginal or anal intercourses, or genital skin contact. Gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, warts and chancroid are common STDs. Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) can also be transmitted through sexual contact.
Symptoms of STDs include:
- Itching or soreness of genitals or anus
- Blisters, sores, lump, rash in uro-genital areas
- Discoloured discharge that may be foul smelling from vagina in females and penis in males
- Pain during urination
- Women may also complain of pain in lower back and abdomen
Some infected persons may not show any symptoms and may pass on infection to their partners unknowingly. Untreated STDs can lead to infertility. The sexual partner of the infected person should also seek medical advice and treatment. Unless the infected individual is cured, she or he should avoid sexual intercourse. STDs can be prevented by:
- having one faithful sex partner
- having safe sex with correct and consistent use of condoms
HIV / AIDS
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV is a retro virus, i.e., its genetic material is RNA. It destroys vital cells of the immune system making the body vulnerable to several infectious agents.
It infects T-lymphocytes and makes thousands of copies of the virus. HIV-infected individual may remain asymptomatic for 10-15 years. Gradually, the number of T-helper cells of the immune system decrease in number to a low when the victim loses resistance against other diseases. This is the stage of full-blown AIDS.
HIV may be transmitted from one infected individual to another individual by the following mechanisms:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Infected blood
- Infected syringes and needles
- Infected mother to her baby in utero (in the womb), during child birth and through breast milk
HIV transmission can be prevented by:
- Having one faithful sex partner
- Having safe sex with correct and consistent use of condom
In addition, HIV transmission can be prevented by:
- Using sterilized needles for blood donation or transfusion or getting injections
- Pregnant women infected with HIV should seek advice from medical practitioner on the safest mode of delivery and seek counselling regarding breast feeding the baby
Anti-retro viral therapy is available to check the progression from HIV infection to full-blown AIDS and has been shown to be effective.