Venereal diseases

The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in Switzerland shows an increasing trend for diseases such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. While HIV infection rates have stabilized thanks to effective treatment and prevention strategies, the incidence of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is on the rise. One reason for the rise in non-HIV STIs could be an increasingly casual attitude towards safer sex practices, driven by confidence in advanced treatment options for HIV.


Infected people carry the STD pathogens in their body fluids such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions and transmit them to their partner during sexual contact. With some pathogens, transmission is also possible via intensive skin contact alone.

Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases

The symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases depend on the particular disease and its stage. The symptoms can occur on the genitals, but also outside the genital area and affect the entire body. Common symptoms are skin changes such as ulcers, redness and itching, but also abdominal pain, burning when urinating and, in women, burning in the vagina and discharge. Fever, pain in the limbs and groin, swollen lymph nodes or pain during sex can also be signs of a sexually transmitted disease.

What are the most common sexually transmitted diseases?

Sexually transmitted diseases are common worldwide and occur in both men and women. There are many dozens of sexually transmitted diseases, the most common and best known being:

Risk factors and preventive measures

The risk factors for the transmission of STIs are diverse and include both behavioral and socio-economic aspects. The main factors include unprotected sexual intercourse, changing sexual partners without prior testing, the consumption of alcohol and drugs, which can lead to riskier sexual behavior, and a lack of awareness and knowledge about STIs and how they are transmitted.

Socio-economic conditions, such as limited access to healthcare and education, can also increase the risk, as they limit the opportunities for information and prevention. Young people and people with several sexual partners are particularly often in the risk group.

Diagnostics for sexually transmitted diseases

In addition to a clinical examination based on the symptoms, a laboratory test is crucial to precisely determine the cause of the infection. It is the basis for determining the antibiotic/antiviral treatment.

Treatment of STDs

If left untreated, STIs can have serious consequences and, depending on the pathogen, can lead to infertility, liver cirrhosis, cervical cancer or AIDS.

Symptoms should therefore be taken seriously and a test carried out to detect the disease at an early stage and prevent further transmission. STDs are diseases that can affect anyone and everyone. A sexually transmitted disease therefore need not embarrass anyone. It is important to act and it is better to go for another check-up.

If sexually transmitted diseases are diagnosed early, they can usually be treated well with medication. Which active ingredient is used depends on the disease in question. The appropriate treatment, usually antibiotic or antiviral, depends on the laboratory findings. For further information see Syphilisserology and Venereology/Molecular Biology.

There are specific tests for many sexually transmitted diseases that enable rapid and accurate diagnosis and therefore targeted treatment.

Test for sexually transmitted diseases

To ensure responsible health care and minimize the risk of transmitting STIs, it is crucial to get tested regularly. Those affected can be tested for sexually transmitted diseases in specialized clinics, health centers, at their GP or in some cases via self-tests available in pharmacies. For quick results, many places offer rapid tests that can provide a result within minutes, while pharmacies offer home testing kits for discreet at-home testing.

What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases?

Symptoms may include unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus, pain when urinating, genital or anal area, as well as itching, blisters or ulcers in the genital area. However, many sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic.

How do I recognize sexually transmitted diseases in men?

In men, symptoms such as discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating, pain and swelling in the testicles and a rash around the genital area may indicate a sexually transmitted disease.

How do I recognize sexually transmitted diseases in a woman?

In women, symptoms of STIs can include unusual vaginal discharge, pain when urinating, bleeding between menstrual cycles, pain during intercourse, and itching, swelling or a rash in the genital area. It is important to note that some STIs can be asymptomatic, which is why regular examinations and tests are crucial to enable early diagnosis and treatment.

Which sexually transmitted diseases cannot be cured?

HIV, genital herpes (HSV-2) and certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) cannot be cured with current treatment methods, but can be controlled with medication.

How long does it take for sexually transmitted diseases to break out?

The incubation period varies depending on the disease: from a few days to several weeks or months. Symptoms can occur immediately after infection or only after a longer period of time.

How do you test yourself for sexually transmitted diseases?

Tests for STDs usually involve urine samples, blood tests or swabs of affected areas. They are carried out in clinics, health authorities or using home test kits.

When should you start testing for sexually transmitted diseases?

It is recommended to get tested for STDs if you are planning or have had unprotected sex with a new partner, notice symptoms of an STD, or if your sexual partner has tested positive.

How do you treat sexually transmitted diseases?

Treatment depends on the specific disease: bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics, while viral infections such as HIV and herpes are treated with medication to control symptoms and viral load.

How do you get a sexually transmitted disease?

STDs are mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Some can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or birth. A condom does not always protect against a sexually transmitted disease, as some pathogens (e.g. herpes viruses, HPV) can also be transmitted through smear infections (skin-to-skin contact).

How do you notice sexually transmitted diseases?

Many STIs initially show no symptoms or only very mild signs that can easily be overlooked. Noticeable symptoms include discharge, pain, blisters or ulcers in the genital area.

How do sexually transmitted diseases develop?

STDs are caused by infections with bacteria, viruses or parasites that are primarily transmitted through sexual contact. A lack of preventive measures and education contribute to the spread.

How quickly do you notice a sexually transmitted disease?

This can vary greatly. Some people notice symptoms within a few days of infection, while for others it can take weeks, months or even years for symptoms to appear.

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