Women’s Health A-Z
Sexually Transmitted Diseases, or STDs, are infections spread by sexual contact. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, STDs are the most common contagious diseases in the USA besides colds and flu. Millions of new STD cases occur every year.
Causes and Transmission of STDs
STDs are passed to others by contact with skin, mouth, genitals, rectum or body fluids. Either bacteria or viruses cause STDs. Bacterial STDs are treated with antibiotics. Medicine cannot cure viral STDs, but it can treat symptoms.
Types of STDs
- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia: Bacteria causes both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. They often have no symptoms. Antibiotics can cure both gonorrhea and chlamydia. IIf a physician diagnoses you with trichomonas, you should also tell your partner to get treatment, and you should both complete your full course of antibiotics. Untreated gonorrhea or Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammation in women affecting the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It can cause infertility.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is one of the most common STDs in the USA. There often are no signs of genital STD’s. A few types of HPV cause warts in the genital areas. Even after warts have cleared up, the virus may still be present. Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. However, very few women with HPV develop this type of cancer. There are vaccines that prevent the types of HPV that cause the most cases of cancer of the cervix and genital warts.
- Syphilis: Bacteria is what causes a syphilis infection. If untreated, syphilis can infect many parts of the body, which can consequently cause major health problems-even death. In the early stages of the infection, your provider can prescribe you medications that easliy treats syphilis. Syphilis can be spread through direct contact with a syphilis sore. It can also be spread by touching the rash, warts, or infected blood during the second stage of infection.
- Genital Herpes: Genital Herpes virus infects millions of Americans. The most common symptom of herpes is a sore on or around the genitals. The sores can last from a few days to a few weeks. The symptoms go away by themselves, but the virus remains in one’s body. Treatment can help heal the sores, but it cannot kill the virus. It is possible to transmit herpes infection to others without knowing it. If one or one’s partner have oral or genital herpes, avoid sex from the time of first symptoms until a few days after the scabs have gone away.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV is the virus causing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV enters the bloodstream by way of body fluids, usually blood or serum. HIV weakens the immune system, which may lead to AIDS. AIDS causes a person’s immune system to become so weak that they may develop other life-threatening conditions such as infections or cancer. Although there is no cure for HIV, treatment may prevent or delay the onset of AIDS, which can be fatal.
- Trichomonas: Trichomonas vaginitis is a microscopic parasite that an infected person can spread during sex. Medical treatment can cure trichomonas. If a physician diagnoses you with trichomonas, you should also tell your partner to get treatment.
- Hepatitis: A virus causes Hepatitis, which is a serious infection of the livers. Direct contact with infected body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva) can lead to the transmission of Hepatitis B and C. You should speak with your provider about getting a Hepatitis B vaccine.
You can help prevent STDs by knowing your sexual partners and limiting the number you have. You should also use latex condoms, avoid risky sex practices, and get your immunizations for Hepatitis B and HPV.