Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Also called: Sexually transmitted infections, STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who has the infection. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites and viruses. There are more than 20 types of STDs, including
Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.
If you have an STD caused by bacteria or parasites, your health care provider can treat it with antibiotics or other medicines. If you have an STD caused by a virus, there is no cure. Sometimes medicines can keep the disease under control. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading STDs.
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. You get it by having sex or sexual contact with someone who is infected. Both men and women can get it. Chlamydia usually doesn't cause symptoms. If it does, you might notice a burning feeling when you urinate or abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis.
In both men and women, chlamydia can infect the urinary tract. In women, infection of the reproductive system can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility or serious problems with pregnancy. Babies born to infected mothers can get eye infections and pneumonia from chlamydia. In men, chlamydia can infect the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm. This can cause pain, fever and rarely, infertility.
You can cure chlamydia with antibiotics. If you are sexually active, you can decrease your risk of getting it by using condoms. Experts recommend that women 25 and younger get a chlamydia test every year.
Also called: The clap
Gonorrhea is a curable sexually transmitted disease. It is most common in young adults. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea can infect the genital tract, mouth or anus.
Gonorrhea does not always cause symptoms, especially in women. In men, gonorrhea can cause pain when urinating and discharge from the penis. If untreated, it can cause epididymitis, which affects the testicles and can lead to infertility. In women, gonorrhea can cause bleeding between periods, pain when urinating and increased discharge from the vagina. If untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes problems with pregnancy and infertility. Gonorrhea can pass from mother to baby during pregnancy.
You can cure gonorrhea with antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading gonorrhea.
Also called: HSV
Herpes is an infection that is caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). Oral herpes causes cold sores around the mouth or face. Genital herpes affects the genitals, buttocks or anal area. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). You can get it from having sex, even oral sex. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth.
Some people have no symptoms. Others get sores near the area where the virus has entered the body. They turn into blisters, become itchy and painful, and then heal. The virus can be dangerous in newborn babies or in people with weak immune systems.
Most people have outbreaks several times a year. Over time, you get them less often. Medicines to help your body fight the virus can help lessen symptoms and decrease outbreaks. Correct usage of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading herpes.
Also called: HIV
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stages of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that kills or damages cells of the body's immune system.
HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. AIDS may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.
The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go a month or two after infection. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are common viruses that can cause warts. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Most are harmless, but about 30 types put you at risk for cancer. These types affect the genitals and you get them through sexual contact with an infected partner. They are classified as either low-risk or high-risk. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women. In men, it can lead to cancers of the anus and penis.
Although some people develop genital warts from HPV infection, others have no symptoms. Your health care provider can treat or remove the warts. In women, Pap smears can detect changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer.
Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading HPV. A vaccine can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. It infects the genital area, lips, mouth, or anus of both men and women. You usually get syphilis from sexual contact with someone who has it. It can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy.
The early stage of syphilis usually causes a single, small, painless sore. Sometimes it causes swelling in nearby lymph nodes. If you do not treat it, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash, often on your hands and feet. Many people do not notice symptoms for years. Symptoms can go away and come back.
The sores caused by syphilis make it easier to get or give someone HIV during sex. If you are pregnant, syphilis can cause birth defects, or you could lose your baby. In rare cases, syphilis causes serious health problems and even death.
Syphilis is easy to cure with antibiotics if you catch it early. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading syphilis.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. It affects both women and men, but symptoms are more common in women. Symptoms in women include a green or yellow discharge from the vagina, itching in or near the vagina and discomfort with urination. Most men with trichomoniasis don't have any symptoms, but it can cause irritation inside the penis.
You can cure trichomoniasis with antibiotics. In men, the infection usually goes away on its own without causing symptoms. But an infected man can continue to infect or reinfect a woman until he gets treated. So it's important that both partners get treated at the same time. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading trichomoniasis.