How much do you know about the most common STIs? Introducing condyloma and herpes!

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common.  Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI. In Finland an estimated 30 000 people get an STI every year. Now you have the chance to learn something new about condyloma and herpes! In March we published an article about chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, you can read it from here.

STIs can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. To protect yourself against the STIs, you should use a condom during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Also plenty of lubricant should be used when having anal sex. To prevent STIs when pleasuring vulva or anus by mouth, you should use dental dams. Read more about STI prevention here.

The STIs are usually caused by a bacteria or a virus.  Condyloma and herpes are caused by a virus. There is no cure for these virus infections but condyloma infection can heal spontaneously and medication can ease the symptoms with herpes and lower the chances of transmitting the virus to other people.

Five facts about condyloma

  • Condyloma is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • It is spread through vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex or by contaminated hands to genitals or anus.
  • Condoms and dental dams can be used to reduce the transmission condyloma, but they don’t give a full protection. There are vaccines for HPV, but not all of them can prevent condylomas. 
  • It is possible that the infection doesn´t show any symptoms.
  • Most of the infections heal spontaneously without treatment in 2 years. Visible warts can be treated with medicinal creams or removed by a doctor.

What are the symptoms of condyloma?

Symptoms include genital warts in or around vulva, vagina, penis, urethra or anus. These warts can be flat and smooth or project out from the surface of the skin and have “cauliflower-like” texture. When in urethra condylomas can cause pain while urinating.

When and how should I get tested? Read more about condyloma from here!

Five facts about herpes

  • Herpes is a very common virus that causes sores on your genitals and/or mouth.
  • Herpes is caused by two different but similar viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2): the same viruses can also cause sores in genitals and lips&mouth.
  • Herpes is easily spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. Herpes can be transmitted through vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex or by contaminated hands to genitals or anus.
  • Herpes is most transmittable when visible blisters are present, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus, but transmission in the symptomless phase of the infection is also possible.
  • Herpes symptoms can be treated with antiviral medicine, but there is no cure to remove the virus from the body.

What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

The first signs of infection appear 4-7 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include pain, itching or tingling of the infected area and pain while urinating or difficulty to urinate. There can be redness, blisters or sores in the area of infection. Infection of cervix or anal canal can also be symptoms of first phase of infection.

Symptoms can also include fever, headache, nausea and enlarged lymph nodes in groin area. Blisters can appear in buttocks or anal area. The first symptoms will relieve without treatment in 2-3 weeks.

Recurring symptoms include tingling and itching of the infected area, blisters and sores. Recurring symptoms usually relieve in a week without treatment.

Even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable, people with herpes can have relationships, sex, and live healthy lives.

When and how should I get tested? Read more about herpes from here!

Should I get tested for condyloma or genital herpes?

Testing and treatment of most STIs is free of charge in public health care in Finland. An exception is that the treatment of herpes and condyloma is not free of charge.

Condyloma and genital herpes are the only STIs diagnosed based on the symptoms. So, if you have symptoms of genital herpes or condyloma, you should see the doctor.

  • Condyloma is diagnosed by a health care professional visually or by biopsy.
  • If condyloma is found on the vulva, a pap smear test is also taken.
  • Herpes is diagnosed by a sample from herpes blister. A blood sample can be used to determine if a person is a carrier of herpes virus, but can’t determine if the infection is in an active phase.

STI testing is available at:

  • Health centres (free of charge)
  • Venereal disease outpatient clinics (free of charge)
  • Finnish Student Health Service (free of charge), www.yths.fi
  • Private clinics (subject to a charge) and within occupational health care