Genital Tract Infection In Men And Women: Symptoms & Treatment

Infection in the genital tract is common in men as well as women and it is caused by various bacteria, fungus and viruses. Genital tract infection can develop after a sexual intercourse where one partner is infected and transmits the disease to other; these infections are known as sexually transmitted diseases or STD. Some genital tract infection can also occur without sexual contact.

In female the genital tract is made up of vagina, vulva, cervix, uterus, fallopian tube and ovaries. In males the genital tract is made up of penis, urethra, prostate, spermatic cord and testes.

Infection can occur in any or more than one part of genital tract.

What Is Genital Tract Infection?

Genital tract infections are referred as per the organ involvement:

  • Vagina: Vaginitis
  • Vulva: Vuvitis
  • Cervix: Cervicitis
  • Uterus: Endometritis
  • Fallopian tubes: Salpingitis
  • Ovaries: Oophoritis
  • Urethra: Urithritis
  • Testes: Epididimitis

Following is the list of common sexually transmitted genital tract disease and the organism causing them.

  • Gonorrhea: Caused by Neisseria Gonorrhoeae bacteria.
  • Syphilis: It is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria.
  • Chancroid: Hemophilus Ducreyi.
  • Herpes: It is caused by Herpes Simplex virus 1 and 2.
  • LGV: Lymphogranuloma Venereum.
  • Granuloma Inguinale: Calymmatobacterium Donovani.

Other diseases such as HIV, scabies, lice, hepatitis B are also considered as sexually transmitted diseases.

Symptoms And Treatment Of Common Genital Tract Infections

Gonorrhea: In males the infection starts in the beginning part of the urethra and spreads upwards to prostate and testes. In female the infection is in cervix, urethra, and bartholin glands. The eyes, throat, and anus can also get infected. Symptoms include:

In male:

  • Pain and Burning while passing urine.
  • Increase in frequency of urination.
  • White or yellow pus like discharge at the beginning of urination.
  • It can lead to swelling in testis and prostate.

In female:

  • Swelling of vulva
  • Burning urination
  • Foul vaginal discharge which may be yellow or greenish
  • Chronic pain in pelvic region
  • It may lead to infertility
  • Salpingitis and ectopic pregnancy

Diagnosis: Gram negative kidney shaped bacteria can be seen on the microscope after gram staining from collection of pus from the infected area. The sample is also cultured in the laboratory.

Treatment: Antibiotics are generally prescribed to treat the patient. For preventing the disease, wear condoms especially if there are multiple partners, and practice healthy sexual relationship.

Syphilis: It is a chronic infection caused by Treponema pallidum. Untreated syphilis is present in three stages. Primary, secondary and tertiary, in most cases the disease remains latent for a long period of time till symptoms arise.

  • Primary stage: Firm and non tender ulcer develops at the site such as vagina, penis, on the lips, in the mouth, at the anus, or even on the finger. Non tender enlargement of lymph nodes, they are firm and seldom suppurate.
  • Secondary stage: Skin rash, condylomata, fever, alopecia, generalized enlargement of lymph nodes.
  • Tertiary: The ulcer occurs anywhere, but particularly on the skin, mouth, bone, tongue. It involves central nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Diagnosis: In the early stages the organism can be demonstrated in the blood and from the ulcer. The laboratory test usually performed is VDRL test for diagnosis of syphilis.

Treatment: Antibiotic is prescribed by the physician.

Herpes simplex: It is caused by virus infection. The common site of infection is glans of penis in males and labia and vaginal wall in female. The lesions are painful and small pinhead blisters appear on the genital area.

Diagnosis is possible from examining and history of the patient.

Treatment: There is no permanent cure for genital herpes though some practitioners prescribe anti viral drugs. To prevent recurrent infection which is common attempt should be made to increase the level of immunity, and precipitating factors such as stress, anxiety should be eliminated. Circumcision in men is useful in resistant and recurrent herpes genitalis.

Chancroid: It is the third most common venereal disease. The disease is more common in males as compared to females. The causative organism is a gram negative bacterium.

Symptoms: In males the symptoms appear on the glans penis, on the foreskin. In females the ulcer is seen on labia or on the inner surface of the thigh and the groin. Ulcer has shallow irregular margin. It bleeds on friction. Bubo formation is the usual sequel of the disease. Bubo is painful enlargement of inguinal lymph gland.

Diagnosis is arrived by typical clinical picture. There is history of exposure. Smear of the material and culture are positive for the organism H. Ducrey.