What Are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Some STDs can also spread through skin-to-skin contact. These infections can be passed from a pregnant person to their baby, during childbirth, breastfeeding, blood transfusions, or needle sharing. There are over 20 types of STDs, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, HPV, pubic lice, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
Causes of STDs
STDs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
Affected Individuals
Most STDs affect both men and women, with some causing more severe health issues in women. If an STD is transmitted to a baby, it can lead to serious health problems.
Symptoms of STDs
STDs may not always produce symptoms or may only cause mild ones, making it possible to have an infection without realizing it. Despite the absence of symptoms, STDs can still be harmful and transmitted during sex. Symptoms, when present, may include:
– Unusual genital discharge
– Genital sores or warts
– Painful or frequent urination
– Itching and redness in the genital area
– Mouth blisters or sores
– Abnormal vaginal odor
– Anal itching, soreness, or bleeding
– Abdominal pain
– Fever
Diagnosis of STDs
If sexually active, it’s important to discuss STD risk and testing with a healthcare provider, as many STDs may not cause noticeable symptoms. Some STDs can be diagnosed through physical exams or microscopic examination of sores or fluids from the genital, penile, or anal areas. Blood tests are used for diagnosing other types of STDs.
Treatment for STDs
Bacterial or parasitic STDs can often be treated with antibiotics, while there is no cure for viral STDs. Medications can help manage viral STD symptoms and reduce transmission risk. Correct use of latex condoms can significantly reduce the risk of STD transmission. For individuals allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms can be an alternative. The most effective way to prevent infection is to abstain from anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Vaccines are available for preventing HPV and hepatitis B.
Prevention of STDs
Proper use of latex condoms reduces the risk of STD transmission but does not provide complete protection. Individuals allergic to latex can use polyurethane condoms. The most reliable way to prevent infection is to avoid anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Vaccines for HPV and hepatitis B are available for prevention.