Molecular panel of sexually transmitted pathogens

sexually transmitted pathogens

Table of contents

What are STDs?

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are infections caused by sexually transmitted pathogens. They are transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity and intimate contact. They are diseases that often cause no symptoms, or very mild symptoms. For this reason, a person can be infected, not know it and spread it. Therefore, early diagnosis is one of the best ways to curb the incidence, which is constantly increasing, especially among young people.

STDs can cause reproductive and sexual health consequences. A PCR can accurately detect whether sexually transmitted pathogens are present in an individual’s body, generating a specific and rapid diagnosis. A urethral swab, vaginal swab or urine sample is needed to perform a PCR.

Types of sexually transmitted pathogens

There are more than 19 identified sexually transmitted pathogens. The most common ones are explained below:

  • Chlamydia trachomatis. Popularly known as ‘chlamydia’ or ‘the silent epidemic’. Infections by this bacterium are very common, but very few people are aware that they have it. It can be easily cured with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can have very serious consequences. For example, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which affects the uterus, ovaries and other female reproductive organs.
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This disease is often called gonorrhea. It can lead to PID, infertility and other complications if antibiotics are not taken. Especially in women, this bacterium may not cause symptoms, but the consequences of not treating it in time can be serious. If there are possibilities, it is best to have a PCR test.
  • Mycoplasma genitallium. This is the smallest self-replicating bacterium discovered to date. Like the 2 previous ones, it does not produce symptoms in most people, although it can produce urogenital problems. However, it is treatable, so the earlier it is identified, the better.
  • Mycoplasma hominis. This is another bacterium that often goes unnoticed and is difficult to diagnose. It can cause, especially in women, genitourinary tract infections and systemic infections in neonates. It can also cause severe extragenital infections, especially in immunocompromised patients.
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum. This infection can cause urethritis and infertility. In men it can cause alterations in sperm motility. In pregnant women it may cause damage to the fetus and even cause miscarriage. It can be treated with antibiotics and proper hygiene of the urogenital area. The use of condoms would prevent the spread of this bacterium.
  • Ureaplasma parvum. Although it is a bacterium present in the genital flora, it can become pathogenic and cause disease. It does not cause symptoms, so its diagnosis is complicated. It can cause STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomonas is one more of these sexually transmitted pathogens. In this case, it causes trichomoniasis, especially among young sexually active women. In them, the most frequent age of onset of this infection is between 30-40 years. In men, it is usually asymptomatic. It can be treated with a dose of antibiotics.
  • Treponema palidum. This bacterium is the cause of syphilis, among other diseases. Antibiotics such as penicillin can kill it.
  • Haemophilus ducreyi. It is the bacterium that causes chancroid. It can cause painful sores on the genitals and painful ulceration with associated lymphadenopathy. There are medications to treat it, prescribed by a qualified specialist.
  • Candidiasis. This infection is caused by the candida fungus and has many variants (glabatra, krusei, dubliniensis, Guilliermondii, parapsilosis, tropicalis), but the most common species is candida albicans. It can cause superficial infections in the mouth, vagina or skin. These, in turn, produce white or red plaques and itching or irritation. It can be treated with antifungal drugs.
  • Genital herpes. Caused by the herpes simplex virus, this disease causes recurrent outbreaks of sores in the genital area. It remains in the body of an infected person throughout his or her life. There are antiviral therapies that can reduce the duration of symptoms.
  • Cytomegalovirus. Most people infected with the last of the sexually transmitted pathogens we will discuss do not develop symptoms. However, it can be serious for people who are immunocompromised. They may develop symptoms similar to those of infectious mononucleosis. Also, fetuses may be at risk during pregnancy. The body is able to create antibodies to destroy this disease. However, if there is a problem and it fails to do so, drugs can be administered. There is also a vaccine under development.

STDs do not affect everyone in the same way; a healthy person may have more difficulty developing the infection than one with a weak immune system or other illnesses, as well as a pregnant woman.

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