A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is any disease that spreads primarily through sexual contact, in which one sexual partner passes the disease-causing organism to the other during sexual contact. Because STDs are generally only transmitted during sex, these are among the most difficult diseases in the world to catch.
Of course, that begs the question as to why STDs are so common. The most likely reason is that many people have no idea they have one, and they certainly don’t know how to effectively treat, prevent or avoid them, even if they know.
Not all diseases affecting the sex organs are considered STDs, and some are not even directly related to sex. Urinary tract infections (UTIs), for example, can occur because of irritation from intercourse, but a UTI is not directly transmitted through sex.
With this article, we take a look at the five most common sexually transmitted diseases that everyone should know about.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chlamydia is the most common curable STD. For women, it infects the cervix, while in men it affects the penile urethra.
The most frequent symptoms of chlamydia tend to be pain during sex and discharge from the penis or vagina. Quite often, symptoms of chlamydia don't show up for weeks or months after contact. Sometimes, the symptoms take a year or two to show up. Medical specialists believe the asymptomatic nature of chlamydia is why it has become the most common STD.
Even if you lack any symptoms of chlamydia, it can be worthwhile to get screened, especially if you believe you were exposed to the disease. If you don't discover you have it, it can do a lot of damage to your body in the meantime. Latex condoms have been proven effective in disease prevention and proliferation.
Gonorrhea, which is often referred to as "the clap," is another common bacterial STD. It generally infects the same organs as chlamydia and has similar long-term effects. According to the CDC, there are more than 120 cases of gonorrhea for every 100,000 Americans and that number has been rising steadily over the years.
As is the case with chlamydia, many people who have gonorrhea are not aware they have it. For men, the most common gonorrhea symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating and an occasional white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis.
Be aware that gonorrhea can also infect the throat and be passed via oral sex. Also, there is a current concern regarding treatment, in that there is a growing problem with antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea.
Syphilis is another very common STD and has a notorious history. Caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, leaving it untreated can lead to serious complications. Syphilis is primarily transmitted through direct contact with syphilis sores, which can appear on the external genitals and the mouth, as well as in the vagina or rectum.
Because of that, syphilis can be transmitted through many types of sex, including oral sex, as well as vaginal or anal intercourse. Some scientists believe that oral sex is responsible for the rise of syphilis in gay men.
Because syphilitic sores can appear on areas not covered by a condom, condoms certainly reduce the likelihood of transmission but they don't eliminate it entirely.
The small painless sores (chancres) of early syphilis may heal by themselves, but that doesn't mean the disease is gone. It just becomes more difficult to detect and treat over time.
Trichomoniasis is another common STD that is curable. It’s also an STD in which women are more commonly infected than men. Since the symptoms are similar, women often mistake trichomoniasis infection for a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Those symptoms include a frothy discharge, a strong vaginal odor, vaginal irritation, itching, and pain during intercourse.
For men who get trichomoniasis, they often don't know they have it because they usually have no symptoms. That is why women who have been diagnosed with the disease should make sure their partner gets treated, as it's important to not get it again through re-transmission.
HIV is the virus associated with AIDS, a very deadly disease that can only be transmitted by an exchange of bodily fluids, including semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk and blood. It cannot be transmitted by casual contact.
HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, and many people with the virus are living long and healthy lives. Currently, most HIV-positive people are treated with a combination of drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) or combined antiretroviral therapy (CART). Although these therapies cannot cure the disease, they can reduce the likelihood that infection will progress to AIDS.
If you suspect you may have contracted an STD, it is important to see a doctor immediately. If you have any questions regarding your vaginal health, please schedule an appointment with South Bay OB/GYN today at 631-203-8893.