April 02, 2019
The term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is used to refer to a condition passed from one person to another through sexual contact. You can contract an STD by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STD.
An STD may also be called a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD).
That doesn’t mean sex is the only way STDs are transmitted. Depending on the specific STD, infections may also be transmitted through sharing needles and breastfeeding.
Symptoms of STDs in men
It’s possible to contract an STD without developing symptoms. But some STDs cause obvious symptoms. In men, common symptoms include:
- pain or discomfort during sex or urination
- sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth
- unusual discharge or bleeding from the penis
- painful or swollen testicles
Specific symptoms can vary, depending on the STD. Learn more about the symptoms of STDs in men.
Symptoms of STDs in women
In many cases, STDs don’t cause noticeable symptoms. When they do, common STD symptoms in women include:
- pain or discomfort during sex or urination
- sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the vagina, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth
- unusual discharge or bleeding from the vagina
- itchiness in or around the vagina
The specific symptoms can vary from one STD to another. Here’s more about the symptoms of STDs in women.
STDs from oral sex
Vaginal and anal sex aren’t the only way STDs are transmitted. It’s also possible to contract or transmit an STD through oral sex. In other words, STDs can be passed from one person’s genitals to another person’s mouth or throat and vice versa.
Oral STDs aren’t always noticeable. When they do cause symptoms, they often include a sore throat or sores around the mouth or throat. Learn more about the potential symptoms and treatment options for oral STDs.
Many STDs are curable. For example, the following STDs can be cured with antibiotics or other treatments:
Others can’t be cured. For example, the following STDs are currently incurable:
Even if an STD can’t be cured, however, it can still be managed. It’s still important to get an early diagnosis. Treatment options are often available to help alleviate symptoms and lower your chances of transmitting the STD to someone else. Take a moment to learn more about curable and incurable STDs.
Avoiding sexual contact is the only foolproof way to avoid STDs. But if you do have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, there are ways to make it safer.
When used properly, condoms provide effective protection against many STDs. For optimal protection, it’s important to use condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Dental dams can also provide protection during oral sex.
Condoms are generally effective at preventing STDs that spread through fluids, such as semen or blood. But they can’t fully protect against STDs that spread from skin to skin. If your condom doesn’t cover the infected area of skin, you can still contract an STD or pass it to your partner.
Condoms can help protect against not only STDs, but also unwanted pregnancy.
In contrast, many other types of birth control lower the risk of unwanted pregnancy but not STDs. For example, the following forms of birth control don’t protect against STDs:
- birth control pills
- birth control shot
- birth control implants
- intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Regular STD screening is a good idea for anyone who’s sexually active. It’s particularly important for those with a new partner or multiple partners. Early diagnosis and treatment can help stop the spread of infections.
Before having sex with a new partner, it’s important to discuss your sexual history. Both of you should also be screened for STDs by a healthcare professional. Since STDs often have no symptoms, testing is the only way to know for sure if you have one.
When discussing STD test results, it’s important to ask your partner what they’ve been tested for. Many people assume their doctors have screened them for STDs as part of their regular care, but that’s not always true. You need to ask your doctor for specific STD tests to ensure you take them.
If your partner tests positive for an STD, it’s important for them to follow their healthcare provider’s recommended treatment plan. You can also ask your doctor about strategies to protect yourself from contracting the STD from your partner. For example, if your partner has HIV, your doctor will likely encourage you to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
If you’re eligible, you and your partner should also consider getting vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis B.
Living with STDs
If you test positive for an STD, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.
If you have one STD, it can often increase your chances of contracting another. Some STDs can also lead to severe consequences if left untreated. In rare cases, untreated STDs may even be fatal.
Fortunately, most STDs are highly treatable. In some cases, they can be cured entirely. In other cases, early and effective treatment can help relieve symptoms, lower your risk of complications, and protect sexual partners.
In addition to taking prescribed medications for STDs, your doctor may advise you to adjust your sexual habits to help protect yourself and others. For example, they’ll likely advise you to avoid sex altogether until your infection has been effectively treated. When you resume sex, they’ll probably encourage you to use condoms, dental dams, or other forms of protection.
Following your doctor’s recommended treatment and prevention plan can help improve your long-term outlook with STDs.
Article Source: www.healthline.com/