What is a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
A sexually transmitted disease, also known as an STD, is an infection caught through sexual contact with another person. Whether you just met or have been married for 30 years – protection or no protection – if you are sexually active, you are susceptible to acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.
How Many Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are There?
There are roughly 25 existing sexually transmitted diseases. That number may seem small, but statistics show that each year there are millions of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.
Aside from abstinence, there is no guaranteed prevention against sexually transmitted diseases. Knowing how sexually transmitted diseases are spread and when to get tested, can help you reduce your risk of complications.
What Causes Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by bacteria, parasites, yeast, and viruses. These organisms exist in semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and in some cases, your saliva. Sexually transmitted diseases can therefore be spread vaginally, anally, orally, through kissing, and even skin contact. Some sexually transmitted diseases can also spread through the sharing of certain types of personal belongings, such as razors.
What Puts Me At Risk For Contracting An STD?
Having random and multiple partners without using condoms.
What Are Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
Of the existing sexually transmitted diseases, some are more common than others. Common sexually transmitted diseases include:
- Mycoplasma genitalium
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
How Do I Know If I Have An STD?
Often, you will display no noticeable signs or symptoms of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease. For this reason, sexually transmitted diseases usually go untreated, which can lead to complications. It is important to pay close attention to your body, schedule yearly exams, and visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during sex
- Itchy or sore genital area
- Unusual or abnormal discharge
- Blisters or sores near the anus or genitals
- Bleeding after sex
- Stomach pains
- Low fever
- Flu-like symptoms
- Bleeding between periods
- Constant need to urinate
How is an STD Diagnosed?
Sexually transmitted diseases can be diagnosed through testing and screening. Your symptoms, medical history, and sexual history, all play a role in the diagnostic process. Your doctor may check and swab your genital areas and any discharge or sores. Blood, urine, and saliva samples may also be collected. Samples are sent to a lab for testing. Some results may be ready the same day as your visit.
Remember, sexually transmitted diseases do not always display symptoms. If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you are tested yearly, even if you use protection or are asymptomatic.
How Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treated?
STD treatments will vary based on what type of sexually transmitted disease you have, and whether it is caused by a bacteria, parasite, or virus. Below is a general overview of how the various types of STDs are typically treated.
- Bacterial sexually transmitted diseases – treatable with antibiotics.
- Parasitic sexually transmitted diseases – treatable with antibiotics, anti-parasitic medications or topical treatments.
- Viral sexually transmitted diseases – manageable with various types of antiviral treatments but incurable.
If you would like to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, or want to learn more about preventative methods, schedule an appointment today with an Ob/Gyn specialist at Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn. With specialized care and cutting-edge treatments in obstetrics and gynecology, Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn offers a wide variety of gynecologic and obstetric services from leaders in Ob/Gyn research development. Call 937.771.5100 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.