What is an STD?
There are lots of words for STDs such as VD, the clap, the drip, STIs. They all refer to a group of diseases known as sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are diseases that can be transmitted through sexual contact…that means vaginal, anal or oral sex. Some STDs, like HIV and Hepatitis, can also be transmitted through sharing needles with an infected person or from mother to infant.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD and is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, affecting the genitals (sex organs) of both men and women. It can also infect the rectum, throat and eyes. If left untreated it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. Even though symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, serious complications that cause serious damage that can’t be repaired, including infertility, can happen “silently” before a woman ever knows she has a problem. Chlamydia also can cause discharge from the penis of an infected man and may lead to further problems if left untreated.
Gonorrhea is an STD that is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.
If left untreated it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women, which can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancies. It is also possible to pass the infection onto a baby when you give birth. In men it can cause a narrowing of the urethra (urine pipe), abscesses and inflamed testicles and prostate gland.
Syphilis is an STD caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.
Genital herpes is an STD caused by the herpes simplex viruses, either type 1 (Herpes-1) or type 2 (Herpes-2). Most genital herpes is caused by Herpes 2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from Herpes-1 or Herpes-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.
HPV (Genital Warts)
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD. The virus infects the skin and mucous membranes. There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), and anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix and rectum. You cannot see HPV. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it.
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from infection with the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can be either “acute” or “chronic.”
Acute hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can – but does not always – lead to chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body.
Trichomoniasis is a common STD that affects both women and men, although symptoms are more common in women.
Crabs (also called pubic lice) are small, wingless insects that infest pubic hair. Both men and women can get crabs.
Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by mites, tiny insects that burrow their way under the skin. The mite feeds on human blood and lays eggs under the skin. Both men and women can get scabies.