Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are infectious diseases that are spread from person to person through intimate contact. STDs can be caused by bacteria or viruses and in one type, a parasite. If untreated, some STDs can lead to infertility, cervical cancer and permanent damage to the body. It is important to learn the facts so that you can protect yourself against these serious health problems.
The Most Common STDs
The most common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, genital human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and D, HIV and trichomoniasis. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are caused by bacteria. Genital herpes, HPV, as well as hepatitis B, hepatitis D and HIV, are caused by viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. The highest reported rates of gonorrhea are among sexually active teenagers, young adults and Afro-Americans. HPV is the most commonly transmitted STD.
How chlamydia is spread
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal delivery.
Symptoms of chlamydia
Known as the “silent” disease, chlamydia often does not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually appear one to three weeks after exposure. In women, symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge, burning sensation with urination, lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods. Chlamydial infection of the cervix can spread to the rectum. In men, symptoms include a discharge from the penis, burning sensation with urination and burning and itching around the opening of the penis.
How gonorrhea is spread
Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. It can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during delivery.
Symptoms of gonorrhea
In some cases, infected women and men may have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can appear two to five days after infection or not until 30 days following infection.