Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are bacterial, viral and parasitic infections that are spread through any form of sexual activity. The people who are at highest risk of sexually transmitted diseases are: females, youth, and people of minority groups. Although not every STD has symptoms, they can lead to severe consequences in women if they are not treated in a timely matter. Consequences can lead to difficulty with becoming pregnant, when pregnant and when breast feeding an infant. There are many different kinds of STDs in which some are curable and some are not, and some are more harmful than others. Some untreated STDs can lead to infertility and in some cases, death, which is why it is so important to receive prompt care and treatment if you think you may have been exposed to one.
STDs are caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infections that are spread to one another during any type of sexual activity, including oral, anal or vaginal sex. There does not necessarily need to be penetration in order for an STD to spread, and they can be spread through female and male contact, male to male contact or female to female contact. There are currently as many as over 25 different types of infectious organisms that cause STDs.
According to the American Social Health Association, the United States has the highest rate of STDs in the world. People that are most likely to be infected with one of these diseases and experience a serious medical complication are: women, youth and people of minority groups. These diseases are more easily passed from men to women, which is why women are more likely to be infected. The easiest way to avoid risk of infection during sexual activity is to use protection such as condoms.
Different Types of STDs
This STD can affect the urethra, rectum, throat, vagina and cervix in women. The different symptoms of chlamydia include burning with urination, vaginal discharge or bleeding, abdominal pain and pain during sexual intercourse. However, it is common to show no symptoms when infected. This disease can lead to blindness, eye infection, lymph node infection and respiratory infection. If not treated, it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility or ectopic pregnancy. This STD is diagnosed through a vaginal culture and is typically treated successfully with antibiotic medications. Both sexual partners should be treated to prevent further spreading.
Genital Herpes can affect the labia, vagina, cervix, anus, mouth and inner thighs in women. Herpes can cause repeated outbreaks of small blisters on genitals, rectum, or areas of nearby skin. Genital herpes cause symptoms of tingling, burning or itching with red blisters. Additional symptoms may include vaginal discharge, painful urination, severe headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Diagnosis and treatment of genital herpes is very important because if left untreated, it can cause severe complications such as spreading to a newborn during birth which can lead to serious complications to the brain or spinal cord infection. It is important to inform your doctor when pregnant if you have had a herpes outbreak in the past.
This disease is diagnosed through a blood test. While there is no cure to genital herpes, there are medications that can be prescribed to lessen your symptoms. After a herpes outbreak occurs, you should make sure to use female or male latex condoms every time you are engaging in sexual intercourse.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be spread through any type of sexual activity. This bacteria are attracted best in dark, warm, moist areas such as underwear, and grow in the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, urethra, vagina and eyes. Symptoms of gonorrhea include a thick green-yellow colored vaginal discharge, vaginal itching or burning, increased urination and burning or pain while urinating. Spotting between menstrual periods and painful sexual intercourse are also common symptoms. This disease is diagnosed through a vaginal culture. If gonorrhea is not treated in a timely matter, it may further cause tubal scarring that can prevent pregnancy, sterility, vulvovaginitis, painful intercourse or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
Those with multiple sex partners, those with other STDs, those who participate in oral/anal sex and men who have sex with other men are at a high risk of contracting Hepatitis B or C. Hepatitis B is caused by infection from hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C is caused by infection from the hepatitis C virus. These diseases are under the category of blood-borne viruses because they are spread from an infected person to a non-infected person through blood or body fluid containing blood, commonly semen or saliva, or through sharing needles for IV drugs.
Hepatitis B and C is very serious because it can be transmitted from mother to child during birth. Chronic forms of these diseases can lead to life-threatening medical complications, such as transplants, or ultimately death. There are no cures, but there is a vaccine offered to protect against only hepatitis B. Using a male or female condom reduces the risk of contracting hepatitis. This disease is diagnosed through a blood culture.
HIV and AIDS
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that slowly destroys the whole immune system and progresses into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is spread through blood, semen and vaginal secretions during sexual activity such as oral, vaginal or anal sex. The most common symptoms of HIV are flu-like symptoms, however it is very common to show no symptoms at all which is why HIV is very easily spread. HIV causes the immune system to be suppressed, which leads to possible development of pneumonia or cancers. While there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, there are medications that can assist infected people to live healthier and longer lives. Latex condoms are the number one way to reduce contracting and/or spreading HIV. This disease is diagnosed through a blood test.
PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
The bacteria that cause other STDs also cause PID. PID infects the lining of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. Symptoms of this disease include but are not limited to abnormal colored or smelling vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, fever, spotting between periods, abdominal pain , or increased pain with intercourse.
PID is treated with an antibiotic medication and preventing sexual intercourse while infected.
Bacteria cause a syphilis infection, which has several stages. Syphilis can cause headache, rashes, fever, joint pain, hair loss and flu-like symptoms. Syphilis is very contagious, and can cause severe damage to the brain, nervous system, heart, skin and bone. There are antibiotics that can cure this disease. The use of female and male condoms may prevent the spread.
This disease is diagnosed through a blood test.
Trichomoniasis is a parasite that is transmitted by penis to vagina or vulva to vulva contact through an infected person. Some of the symptoms of this disease include heavy, frothy, foamy, foul smelling, green-white or yellow colored vaginal discharge. Additional symptoms include itching in the vaginal area or inner thighs with a swollen labia. This disease can be cured through antibiotic medication, and both you and your partner should be treated to prevent further spreading. This disease is diagnosed through a vaginal culture.
You should contact your doctor immediately if you are having any symptoms of the above STDs. Treatment and medication are very important to avoid further spreading and complications. It is recommended to be tested regularly, especially if you have a new sexual partner. The best way to prevent STDs is to use protection, such as a male or female latex condom.