Top 3 most common STIs searched for around the world
Recent data has revealed that Chlamydia is the most prevalent STI (sexually transmitted infection) in the world.
According to a study conducted by Stress Free Health Testing, Chlamydia has the highest Google search ratings over every other sexually transmitted infection. With some countries, including the US, reaching a staggering 1million searches every single year.
So, what does this mean?
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections are diagnosed every single day worldwide. These figures are shocking when the overall awareness and education about sexually transmitted infections are supposedly at an all-time high.
In this article, we are going to dive into the top 3 most common STIs searched for around the world. We’ll reveal their symptoms and how best to handle these unwelcome infections.
Chlamydia is the world’s most prevalent STI
The UK, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica – these are just a handful of the countries that have Chlamydia as their most searched for STI on Google.
So, what is it about this silent STI that has so many countries keen to know more?
Chlamydia is often a silent but deadly disease, with most people experiencing no symptoms whatsoever. For those that do experience symptoms, they might clear up independently. However, the bacterial infection is still rampant and can still be passed on.
Typically, it can take 1 to 3 weeks for symptoms to appear. However, as noted, this might not be the general case, as not everyone will become symptomatic.
Before we dive into the main symptoms experienced by both women and men, it is also worth noting that chlamydia can also infect the throat, rectum, and eyes.
Symptoms in women
A shocking 70% of women do not experience any symptoms at all. In which case, Chlamydia can be a lot harder to diagnose.
However, if they do, then they might experience pain when urinating, during sex, or in their stomach or pelvis area. They might experience unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding between periods or after sex.
If Chlamydia is left untreated, it can cause some significant health problems for women. Infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) are all conditions that have been caused by chlamydia.
Symptoms in men
Similarly to women, at least 50% of men do not experience any symptoms if they have chlamydia.
If they do, then the most common symptoms include pain whilst urinating and in the testicles, burning and itching in the urethra, or discharge from the tip of the penis.
Similarly to women, when chlamydia is left untreated in men, it can lead to infertility.
What to do
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is always worth seeking expert medical advice immediately. Even if you do not experience any symptoms but have been informed that you recently had intercourse with someone who was infected, then seek medical advice immediately.
If anything feels slightly off or out of the ordinary, it is always worth checking with a sexual health clinic for peace of mind.
Syphilis is the second most commonly searched STI in the world
Syphilis is the most searched for STI in the Philipines, Switzerland, Madagascar, and Zambia. As the second most common STI searched for in the world, syphilis is shrouded in myths.
Just to provide some clarity, you cannot catch syphilis by using the same toilet as someone with the infection, nor by sharing clothing or cutlery.
You can, however, become infected during vaginal, oral, or anal sex or by sharing sex toys. You can also catch syphilis if you share needles with another who is currently infected.
One of the big worries with syphilis is that it can be passed on to an unborn baby if a woman catches it whilst pregnant. It can also cause stillbirth or miscarriage and is a real concern during pregnancy.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is commonly caught by having sex with someone else that is infected. Even those that have been treated for syphilis in the past are not immune, this infection can be contracted more than once, although typically, it can be cured with a short course of antibiotics.
Syphilis symptoms may not always be obvious. Unfortunately, even if there are no symptoms, the bacteria will usually remain until it’s been treated.
Typical symptoms include small sores or ulcers on the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth. A rash on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, and white patches in the mouth. Skin growths are also quite common, and they develop on the vulva for women, or anus in both men and women.
Tiredness, joint pains, headaches, and high temperature are also a sign of syphilis, although rarely immediately recognised as syphilis. Tests need to be carried out in order to diagnose this infection.
If left untreated, syphilis can cause some serious long-term problems. Over the years, it can spread to the brain and other parts of the body and cause long-lasting health issues, such as nerve and organ damage.
What to do
If you experience any of these above symptoms, then it is advised to get tested as soon as possible. It is not something that will go away on its own and as such, it needs to be diagnosed in order for it to be cured.
By getting tested and treated, you can lower the risk of spreading it to others and prevent your own future health issues linked to syphilis. The test usually requires a blood test and a small sample of fluid. The treatment is either through an injection or antibiotic tablets that are taken orally.
Hepatitis B is the third most commonly searched STI in the world
As the third most commonly searched for STI, Hepatitis B is clearly affecting people all over the world.
Interestingly, according to the World Health Organisation, Hepatitis B is not one of the four most common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. It is estimated that there are 376 million new infections of one of these four STIs each year.
Nevertheless, countries like Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Malaysia all have Hepatitis B as their most searched for STI.
Hepatitis B symptoms
The Hepatitis B virus is spread through the blood and through bodily fluids and is an infection of the liver.
Whilst there are not often obvious symptoms in adults and can typically pass in a few months without treatment, it can persist in babies and children for years and become a chronic condition that can cause liver damage.
Most people that catch Hepatitis B are able to fight the virus and recover from acute infection within 3 months, after which they are then immune to the infection for life.
If adults do experience symptoms, it will typically be 2 or 3 months after exposure.
Such symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin and eyes, nausea, stomach pain, and general flu-like symptoms. These will only typically last 1 to 3 months, however chronic hepatitis B can last for 6 months. This could result in scarring of the liver or even liver cancer.
Despite being listed as one of the top most searched for STIs, Hepatitis B is not exclusively caught through sexual intercourse. Instead, there are many other ways that hepatitis B is spread, such as:
- Sharing needles, drug equipment, toothbrushes, or razors with infected individual
- Using unsterilised tattooing, piercing, medical or dental equipment, and tools.
- From mother to newborn or within families in countries where the infection is more common
Despite being spread through bodily fluids, it cannot be spread through coughing or sneezing.
Hepatitis B treatments
Depending on how long you have been infected, the treatments will vary slightly. For those recently exposed, then emergency treatment can prevent infection.
For those infected within a few weeks or months, then treatment might be to relieve the symptoms.
In those infected for more than 6 months and who suffer from chronic hepatitis B, treatment aims to treat the virus and reduce the risk of liver damage.
What to do
If you think that you might have been exposed to Hepatitis B, it is always advised to seek medical advice.
A blood test will reveal if you have it or if you have had it in the past.
For those that are at high risk of catching hepatitis B then a vaccine is available. It is routinely available to babies, those who have close family or sexual partners with someone infected, those travelling to counties where it is prevalent, and for those with liver or kidney disease.