An Overview of STDs

Chances are you have an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). There are around 15 million new cases of STDs in the U.S. alone and sooner or later most of us will be among the 15 million. The only way to avoid this fate is to be celibate or to have a monogamous relationship with someone who has no history of STD. Condoms certainly make sex a lot safer as do dental dams when engaging in oral sex with a woman. If you get an STD and know the email addresses of all your sexual partners, will save you some embarrassment by sending out emails informing them that you have an STD.

The new, politically correct term for STD is STI for Sexually Transmitted Infection but this article will stick to the older term because it is written for the Internet and most people will still search using STD.


Chancroid is highly contagious but curable. It causes ulcers or sores of the genitals and often causes swollen, painful lymph nodes. The infection is painful to men but women are often unaware that they even have it. Because of the open sores, it makes it easier to get HIV. It is treated with antibiotics.


Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STD in the U.S. but 75% of women and 50% of men experience no symptoms. If they have symptoms both may have an inflamed rectum, inflamed urethra, conjunctivitis (inflamed eyelid) and soreness in throat or mouth.

Women may experience vaginal discharge and burning during urination. If the fallopian tubes are infected there may be lower abdominal and back pain, bleeding during intercourse, bleeding between periods, and nausea or fever.

Men may have pus or watery or milky discharge from the penis or burning during urination. Pain or swelling of the testicles may occur.

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. If untreated in women it may progress to more serious conditions like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or Cystitis, and infection of the bladder. It can also cause a mouthful of a disease called mucopurulent cervictis, a yellow discharge from the cervix.

If untreated in men, Chlamydia can cause Protatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland. It may also cause scarring of the urethra and epdidymitis, an inflammation of the epididymis, the cordlike structure that runs along the back of the teste.


Crabs are sort of like they sound, small parasites that are found in the coarse hairs, usually pubic hair, of the body where they feed on human blood. You can get crabs from another person or infested bedding or clothing. The main symptom is itching.

Condoms or dental dams will not prevent crabs.

Crabs can be treated with either prescription topical medications or those purchased over the counter.


Gonorrhea is transmitted by vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Most women have no symptoms but if untreated it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or infertility.

Men have a discharge from the penis, burning or pain during urination, urinate more often than usual, pain or swelling the testicles.

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics and prevented with condoms and/or dental dams.


There are three kinds of hepatitis: A,B, and C. Hepatitis A is not followed by the chronic problems associated with B and C. Hepatitis B is caused by mucus membranes being exposed to another person’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions. C is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person.

Hepatitis B and C damage liver cells and symptoms can range from mild fatigue to mental confusion to liver failure and death but many times it is self-resolving. There is no one treatment but interferon is effective in 40% of hepatitis B cases. Other drugs are also used for B and C.

Condoms and dental dams provide some safety but the best protection is getting vaccinated.


One in four adults in the U.S. have genital herpes and 90% are unaware that they have the disease.

Genital herpes is transmitted by genital to genital sex or by oral sex. Having herpes makes is easier to get and to transmit HIV.

Symptoms include sores, blisters, cuts, pimples, bumps, or rash. There may be itching or burning in the genital area or aches and pains in the same area.
There may be flu like symptoms and painful urination of discharge is possible but rare.

Genital herpes is treated with one of three viral medications. Condoms and dental dams are fairly effective. A person should not have sex during an outbreak.


This deserves an article of its own. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDs or Acquired Immune Deficiency disease. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, or human breast milk.


HPV is actually a group of viruses that infect the skin. There are more than 70 types. Some types cause warts on hands or feet. Others cause genital warts but most people don’t know they have HPV. Some types of HPV are linked to abnormal cell change on the cervix detected through PAP tests.

Genital HPV is spread through skin to skink contact. 75% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 45 have been infected in their lifetime. There is no good prevention and no agreed upon treatments. Sexually active women should have a Pap smear once a year.


This is a skin disease caused by a virus leading to one or more small bumps and/or lesions. It is transmitted skin to skin, from towels, clothing, swimming pools, and shared baths. The lesions last from two weeks to four years. Most are self-resolving but sometimes the lesions are removed surgically or chemically.

Condoms and dental dams provide some, but not all, protection.


NGU is an infection of the urethra caused by germs other than gonorrhea. Most often it is caused by chlamydia and is more common in men than in women. It is passed by sex that involves direct mucus membrane contact with the infected person even if body fluids are not exchanged.

Symptoms for men include discharge from the penis, burning or pain when urinating, itching, irritation, or tenderness, and underwear stain.

Women may have a vaginal or urethral infection and experience discharge from the vagina, burning or pain when urinating, abdominal pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

NGU is treated with antibiotics. Condoms and dental dams afford good protection.


Scabies is high contagious. It is caused by a tiny eight-legged mite, which burrows into the skin to lay eggs. Severe skin irruption, eruptions, bumps, and rash characterize it.

Condoms and dental dams are not effective. Casual and sexual contact, clothing, towels, upholstery, and bedding spread scabies.

It is treated with prescription medications or by applying petroleum jelly with 5% sulfur on affected areas for three nights.


Syphilis is a persistent, highly infectious bacterium. It has four stages; the last or tertiary stage has serious health complications and can be fatal. It is spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

Symptoms in the primary stage are limited to a red oval sore which heals in about six weeks without treatment

The secondary state is six weeks to three months later and has a rash, especially on the palms or soles of feet. There may be painless lesions in the mouth and on bones or internal organs. The patient may have fever, sore throat, fatigue, headache, joint pain, malaise, and patches of hair loss. Many patients have no symptoms.

The third or latent stage lasts from three to thirty years. There are no symptoms and the patient is not infectious. About 30% remain at this stage.

The final or tertiary stage occurs three or more years after infection. The bacteria reactivate and spread through the body, damaging heart, eyes, brain, nervous system, bones, and joints. The patient can have an aortic aneurysm or aortic insufficiency. Dementia, tremors, loss of muscle co-ordination, paralysis, and blindness may occur. These symptoms are irreversible but syphilis is very treatable with penicillin if treated in time. In the late stage bacteria in the central nervous system may not respond to penicillin.

Using condoms and dental dams affords some protection but there are sores on areas of the body that are not covered by these.


“Trich” is the most common treatable STD among young women. It is a parasite spread by direct sexual contact, mutual masturbation, or sharing sex toys.

In women the symptoms are profuse, frothy green-yellow or gray discharge accompanied by an unpleasant odor, and sometimes bleeding and itching.
The woman may also have painful and frequent urination, vulvovaginal swelling, discomfort during intercourse, and abdominal pain.

Symptoms in men are rare: pale white discharge from the penis and painful and difficult urination.

Untreated “trich” is linked to an increased risk for HIV. Treatment is a single dose of Metronidazole (Flagyl). Condoms or dental dams are not totally protective.

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