Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant in today’s society. Although men and women have anatomical differences, both are equally susceptible to acquiring STDs, and have similar symptoms and treatment options.
It pays to keep yourself informed about risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for some of the most common STDs for both men and women.
1) Human Papillomavirus
According to the CDC, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women become infected at some point in their lives. There are many different types of HPV, and some can cause health issues such as genital warts and cancer.
The virus is most commonly spread through vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be transmitted even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
Most men who get HPV never develop symptoms, and the infection usually goes away on its own. However, if it does not, HPV can cause genital warts and cancer.
There is no specific treatment for HPV, but there are treatments for health issues caused by HPV.
According to WebMD, chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. It is spread mostly by vaginal or anal sex, but you can also get it through oral sex. Symptoms can include an unusual discharge from your genitals, or pain or burning upon urination.
Twenty-five percent of women show symptoms, and 50 percent of men will be symptomatic. Treatment for chlamydia includes antibiotics, and re-testing after three months.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia have similar symptoms of unusual discharge and a burning sensation upon urination. Most men with gonorrhea show symptoms, but only about 20 percent of women do. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.
According to the CDC, men accounted for 76 percent of all adults and adolescents living with HIV infection at the end of 2010 in the United States. Men who have sex with men, also known as MSM, account for most new and existing HIV infections among men.
Most HIV infections are transmitted through sexual contact, especially anal sex for men. Injection drug use and unprotected sex are the two main risk factors for acquiring HIV.
At the end of 2011, according to the CDC, 23 percent of all people living with HIV in the United States were women. Women made up 20 percent of new HIV infections in the United States in 2010 and men made up 80 percent.
Out of the 80 percent of men that acquired new infections, 78 percent of those were MSM. STDs such as gonorrhea and syphilis greatly increase the likelihood of getting or spreading HIV.
5) Genital Herpes
Herpes is a virus that has 2 types: herpes simplex type 1 which is oral herpes, and herpes simplex type 2 which is genital herpes. It is important to note, however, that each type can occur in both locations.
Genital herpes is an extremely common STD in the United States. The CDC estimates that about one in every six people ages 14-29 have genital herpes. Any sexually active person can get herpes. Most people with the virus don’t have symptoms.
Even without symptoms, herpes can spread to sexual partners. Fluid found in a herpes sore carries the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause the infection. Genital herpes can be spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus.
The only way to avoid becoming infected with herpes is by abstaining from sex with anyone who has it. There is no cure for herpes, but medications are available that can prevent an outbreak of the virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes. 20 December 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Among Men in the United States. 20 December 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Among Women. 20 December 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV and Men Fact Sheet. 16 December 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital HPV Infection Fact Sheet. 16 December 2015.
WebMD. Most Common STDs for Women and Men. 16 December 2015.
Reviewed January 5, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith