Sexual Transmitted Disease (STD)

What is a Sexual Transmitted Disease?

Sexually transmitted diseases, more commonly known as STDs, are passed from one sexual partner to another during sexual intercourse or through sexual touching.  They are infections that can be caused by viruses, parasites, yeast, or bacteria.  There are many types of STDs and some of them seem to be more common at certain times.

Some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases include genital warts, HPV, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

What are the Symptoms of a Sexual Transmitted Disease?

The symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases vary widely from one disease to another.  Some STDs do not even have any obvious symptoms, yet they can still be passed on to sexual partners.  You cannot usually see the symptoms of someone that has an STD so it is not simple to tell who is carrying and who is not.  The safest way to avoid STDs is to have protected sex.  Condoms, when used consistently and used properly are your best defense.

Some of the most common symptoms for STDs include:

  • Painful urination
  • Discharge that is painful or smelly
  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Genital pain (during sex or not during sex)
  • Burning
  • Swollen testicles (for men)
  • Heavy periods
  • Anal itching, vaginal itching, or itching inside the penis
  • Painful intercourse
  • Rashes
  • Soreness or aching

Sexual Transmitted Disease Causes

While viral and bacterial STDs are generally passed via bodily secretions from person to person, parasitic STDs are a little more resilient. All STDs are passed either through bodily secretions, skin contact, or sharing of personal hygiene equipment or needle sharing.

Hepatitis B Trichomoniasis, as one example of a parasitic STD, can be passed on by sharing a toothbrush or razor.

Bacterial STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, are generally passed on via bodily excretions. The exchange of blood, semen, vaginal discharge, and saliva can all contribute to the passing of STDs.

While bacterial sexually transmitted diseases are typically spread via sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex as well as traditional vaginal sex, some viral STDs are passed via skin contact. Genital warts and herpes are two examples of viral STDs capable of being passed through skin contact.

Hepatitis B can be passed on by sharing a toothbrush, razor, or other similar device, with someone already infected with the disease.

How is a Sexual Transmitted Disease Treated?

Treatment for sexually transmitted diseases varies from one disease to another but they should always be treated by a doctor. If you feel any of the above symptoms in combination, cease having sex immediately and see your doctor.  Sexually transmitted diseases do not go away by themselves and are contagious and easily spread from one partner to another.  Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and get tested immediately so that a course of treatment can be decided on.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention

By understanding what STDs are and how they’re passed from person to person, one can alter behaviors to minimize accessibility to the diseases. One such way is abstinence. While this may not be the preferred method for all age groups, sexually active teenagers may choose to go this route. Many teens choose to sign an abstinence pledge.

For some sexually transmitted diseases, there are vaccinations that may prevent the spread of disease, such as hepatitis B and HPV. Reducing the number of sex partners or pledging monogamy to one partner can also limit one’s exposure to STDs. Frequent testing can also help one prevent transmitting STDs to anyone else.

Overall, the constant use of male latex condoms may be the best way of protecting against the spread of STDs, but, to maximize effectiveness, a condom should be worn for all activities: vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

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Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
November 07, 2017
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