If you have sex — oral, anal or vaginal intercourse and genital touching — you can get an STD, also called a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Straight or gay, married or single, you’re vulnerable to STIs and STI symptoms. Thinking or hoping your partner doesn’t have an STI is no protection — you need to know for sure. And although condoms are highly effective for reducing transmission of some STDs, no method is foolproof. Check out our article on Genital Herpes Treatment
It’s essential to be evaluated, and — if diagnosed with an STI — get treated. It’s also essential to inform your partner or partners so that they can be evaluated and treated.
If untreated, STIs can increase your risk of acquiring another STI such as HIV. This happens because an STI can stimulate an immune response in the genital area or cause sores, either of which might raise the risk of HIV transmission. Some untreated STIs can also lead to infertility.
Most Common Types of STD’s
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Bacterial Vaginosis
Signs and Symptoms
STDs may not produce any symptoms, especially in women. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include the following:
- Discharge from the penis or vagina
- Pus-containing blisters
- Genital sores including ulcers, blisters, rashes, and warts
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal infection and inflammation of the rectum
- Muscle pain
- Painful urination
- Painful sex
- Bleeding between menstrual cycles
- Repeated urinary tract infections
- Swollen lymph glands in the groin
What Causes It?
STDs are caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites spread most often (but not always) through sexual contact. Some STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby during delivery and through breast-feeding while infected. Others may be passed by sharing infected needles.
Common STDs include:
- AIDS: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Chlamydia infection: Chlamydia trachomatis
- Genital herpes: herpes simplex virus (HSV)
- Genital warts: human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gonorrhea: Neisseria gonorrhoeae
- Syphilis: Treponema pallidum
Who is Most At Risk?
These conditions or characteristics put you at risk for developing STDs:
- Sexually active adults ages 18 to 28. Teens are at highest risk for acquiring an STD for the first time.
- Having a sexual partner with an STD. In many cases, the infected person may not have symptoms.
- Having many sexual partners, or a partner who has many sexual partners
- Having sex without a condom or other protection
- Having one STD increases the chance of getting another
- Living under stress from poverty, poor nutrition, or lack of health care
- Having anal intercourse increases risk for HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis
- Having a weakened immune system
- Using IV drugs and sharing needles