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1. Sexually Transmitted Diseases That Can Be Treated
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It can infect both men and women. Women can get chlamydia in the cervix, rectum, or throat. Men can get chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum, or throat.
How do you get chlamydia?
You can get chlamydia during oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the infection. A woman can also pass chlamydia to her baby during childbirth.
If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can get re-infected if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it.
Who is at risk of getting chlamydia?
Chlamydia is more common in young people, especially young women. You are more likely to get it if you don’t consistently use a condom, or if you have multiple partners.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
Chlamydia doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. So you may not realize that you have it. People with chlamydia who have no symptoms can still pass the disease to others. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner.
Symptoms in women include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, which may have a strong smell
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Pain during intercourse
- If the infection spreads, you might get lower abdominal pain, pain during sex, nausea, or fever.
Symptoms in men include:
- Discharge from your penis
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Burning or itching around the opening of your penis
- Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common)
- If the chlamydia infects the rectum (in men or women), it can cause rectal pain, discharge, and/or bleeding.
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
There are lab tests to diagnose chlamydia. Your health care provider may ask you to provide a urine sample. For women, providers sometimes use (or ask you to use) a cotton swab to get a sample from your vagina to test for chlamydia.
Who should be tested for chlamydia?
You should go to your health provider for a test:
- If you have symptoms of chlamydia, or if you have a partner who has a sexually transmitted disease.
- Pregnant women should get a test when they go to their first prenatal visit.
- People at higher risk should get checked for chlamydia every year:
- Sexually active women 25 and younger
- Older women who have new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted disease
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
What other problems can chlamydia cause?
In women, an untreated infection can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Women who have had chlamydia infections more than once are at higher risk of serious reproductive health complications.
Men often don’t have health problems from chlamydia. Sometimes it can infect the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm). This can cause pain, fever, and, rarely, infertility.
Both men and women can develop reactive arthritis because of a chlamydia infection. Reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that happens as a “reaction” to an infection in the body.
Babies born to infected mothers can get eye infections and pneumonia from chlamydia. It may also make it more likely for your baby to be born too early.
Untreated chlamydia may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV/AIDS.
What are the treatments for chlamydia?
Antibiotics will cure the infection. You may get a one-time dose of the antibiotics, or you may need to take medicine every day for 7 days. Antibiotics cannot repair any permanent damage that the disease has caused.
To prevent spreading the disease to your partner, you should not have sex until the infection has cleared up. If you got a one-time dose of antibiotics, you should wait 7 days after taking the medicine to have sex again. If you have to take medicine every day for 7 days, you should not have sex again until you have finished taking all of the doses of your medicine.
It is common to get a repeat infection, so you should get tested again about three months after treatment.
Can chlamydia be prevented?
The only sure way to prevent chlamydia is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading chlamydia.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease. It is most common in young adults. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea can infect the genital tract, mouth, or anus.
How do you get gonorrhea?
You can get gonorrhea during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. A pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea does not always cause symptoms. In men, gonorrhea can cause pain when urinating and discharge from the penis. If untreated, it can cause problems with the prostate and testicles.
In women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea often are mild. Later, it can cause bleeding between periods, pain when urinating, and increased discharge from the vagina. If untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes problems with pregnancy and infertility.
How is gonorrhea diagnosed?
Your health care provider will diagnose gonorrhea with lab tests.
What are the treatments for gonorrhea?
Treatment is with antibiotics. Treating gonorrhea is becoming more difficult because drug-resistant strains are increasing.
“There is emerging resistance, particularly among the gonorrhea bacteria. This has received international attention because there have been cases where the gonorrhea bacteria were completely resistant to antibiotics. We want to prevent that from happening. It’s really important again for people to prevent gonorrhea from happening by using condoms and other precautions,” Dr. Virk says.
Can gonorrhea be prevented?
Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading gonorrhea. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. It spreads from person to person during sex.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Many people do not have any symptoms. If you do get symptoms, they usually happen within 5 to 28 days after being infected.
Symptoms in women include:
- Yellow-green or gray discharge from the vagina
- Discomfort during sex
- Vaginal odor
- Painful urination
- Itching burning, and soreness of the vagina and vulva
Symptoms in men include:
Most men do not have symptoms. If they do, they may have:
- Itching or irritation inside the penis
- Burning after urination or ejaculation
- Discharge from the penis
What other problems can trichomoniasis cause?
Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted diseases. Pregnant women with trichomoniasis are more likely to give birth too early, and their babies are more likely have a low birth weight.
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
Lab tests can tell if you have the infection. Treatment is with antibiotics. If you are infected, you and your partner must be treated.
Can trichomoniasis be prevented?
Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading trichomoniasis. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. It infects the genital area, lips, mouth, or anus of both men and women.
How do you get syphilis?
You usually get syphilis from sexual contact with someone who has it. It can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy. The early stage of syphilis usually causes a single, small, painless sore. Sometimes it causes swelling in nearby lymph nodes. If you do not treat it, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash, often on your hands and feet.
What are the symptoms of syphilis?
Many people do not notice symptoms for years. Symptoms can go away and come back.
What other problems can syphilis cause?
The sores caused by syphilis make it easier to get or give someone HIV during sex. If you are pregnant, syphilis can cause complications, or you could lose your baby. In rare cases, syphilis causes serious health problems and even death.
Can syphilis be prevented?
Syphilis is easy to cure with antibiotics if you catch it early. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading syphilis. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases That Cannot Be Treated
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs.
How do you get genital herpes?
You can get it from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Symptoms of herpes are called outbreaks. You usually get sores near the area where the virus has entered the body. The sores are blisters which break and become painful, and then heal. Sometimes people do not know they have herpes because they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The virus can be more serious in newborn babies or in people with weak immune systems.
Repeat outbreaks are common, especially during the first year. Over time, you get them less often and the symptoms become milder. The virus stays in your body for life.
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
There are tests that can diagnose genital herpes. There is no cure. However, medicines can help lessen symptoms, decrease outbreaks, and lower the risk of passing the virus to others.
Can genital herpes be prevented?
Correct usage of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading herpes. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) harms your immune system by destroying a type of white blood cell that helps your body fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of infection with HIV. It happens when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
How do you get HIV/AIDS?
- Through unprotected sex with a person with HIV. This is the most common way that it spreads.
- By sharing drug needles
- Through contact with the blood of a person with HIV
- From mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding
- Anyone can get HIV, but certain groups have a higher risk of getting it:
- People who have another sexually transmitted disease (STD). Having an STD can increase your risk of getting or spreading HIV.
- People who inject drugs with shared needles
- Gay and bisexual men, especially those who are Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino American
- People who engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms
What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?
The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks. If the infection is not treated, it becomes chronic HIV infection. Often, there are no symptoms during this stage. If it is not treated, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system. Then the infection will progress to AIDS. This is the late stage of HIV infection. With AIDS, your immune system is badly damaged. You can get more and more severe infections.
How is HIV/AIDS diagnosed?
Some people may not feel sick during the earlier stages of HIV infection. So, the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. Your health care provider can do the test, or you can use a home testing kit. You can also use the CDC Testing Locator to find free testing sites.
What are the treatments for HIV/AIDS?
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It is also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
Can HIV/AIDS be prevented?
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Not injecting drugs
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of related viruses. They can cause warts on different parts of your body.
How do you get HPV?
There are more than 200 types. About 40 of them are spread through direct sexual contact with someone who has the virus. They can also spread through other intimate, skin-to-skin contact. Some of these types can cause cancer.
What other problems can HPV cause?
There are two categories of sexually transmitted HPV. Low-risk HPV can cause warts on or around The genitals, anus, mouth, or throat. High-risk HPV can cause various cancers:
- Cervical cancer
- Anal cancer
- Some types of oral and throat cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Penile cancer
Most HPV infections go away on their own and do not cause cancer. But sometimes the infections last longer. When a high-risk HPV infection lasts for many years, it can lead to cell changes, if left untreated, may get worse over time, and become cancer.
Who is at risk of getting HPV?
HPV infections are very common. Nearly all sexually active people are infected with HPV soon after they become sexually active.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
Some people develop warts from certain low-risk HPV infections, but the other types (including the high-risk types) have no symptoms. If a high-risk HPV infection lasts for many years and causes cell changes, you may have symptoms. You may also have symptoms if those cell changes develop into cancer. Which symptoms you have depends on which part of the body is affected.
How is HPV diagnosed?
Health care providers can usually diagnose warts by looking at them. For women, there are cervical cancer screening tests which can find changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer. As part of the screening, women may have Pap tests, HPV tests, or both.
What are the treatments for HPV?
An HPV infection itself cannot be treated. There are medicines that you can apply to a wart. If they do not work, your health care provide could freeze, burn, or surgically remove it.
There are treatments for the cell changes caused by infection with high-risk HPV. They include medicines that you apply to the area that is affected and various surgical procedures.
People who have HPV-related cancers usually get the same types of treatment as people who have cancers that are not caused by HPV. An exception to this is for people who have certain oral and throat cancers. They may have different treatment options.
Can HPV be prevented?
Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading HPV. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Vaccines can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer. The vaccines provide the most protection when people get them before they are exposed to the virus. This means that it is best for people to get them before they become sexually active.
Hepatitis B (also called Hep B) is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a highly contagious STD that causes inflammation of the liver.
How do you get hepatitis B?
The virus is usually spread from person to person through contact with blood and/or body fluids of someone who has the infection.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Symptoms of hepatitis B can range from mild to severe. If you have a mild case of hepatitis, you may not even realize that you have it. It may not cause any symptoms or may only cause symptoms like the stomach flu. The symptoms of hepatitis B may include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Abdominal pain (especially in the area around your liver).
- Dark-colored urine.
- Jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes).
- Joint pain.
What are the causes of hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus. You can get the virus if you have unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner. People who use intravenous (IV) drugs can get hepatitis B when they share needles with someone who has the virus. Health care workers (such as nurses, lab technicians, and doctors) can get hepatitis B if they are accidentally stuck with a needle that was used on an infected patient. The infection can also be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth. You are also more likely to get hepatitis B if you travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is common.
Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted through casual contact. For example, you cannot get hepatitis B by hugging or shaking hands with someone who is infected.
How is hepatitis B diagnosed?
Blood tests are used to diagnose hepatitis B. Blood tests can tell your doctor whether your liver is working properly, and they can also be used to monitor your condition during treatment.
Your doctor may want to look at your liver with an ultrasound exam or X-rays. You may also need a liver biopsy. During a liver biopsy, a small piece of the liver is removed and looked at under a microscope. A liver biopsy can help your doctor diagnose your illness and see the condition of your liver directly.
Can hepatitis B be prevented?
The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to always have protected sex (use a condom) and, if you use intravenous (IV) drugs, avoid sharing needles.
A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B. It is now routinely given in the first year of life to all newborn infants. It is safe and requires 3 shots over a 6-month period. This vaccine should be given to people who are at high risk for this illness, such as healthcare workers, all children, people who travel to areas where the infection is widespread, drug users, and those who have multiple sex partners. All infants and young adults should be vaccinated.
What are the treatments for hepatitis b?
If you have acute (short-lived) hepatitis B, your body may be able to fight the infection on its own. This means you might not need treatment. Your doctor will help you manage your symptoms and monitor your condition while your body works to clear the hepatitis B from your system.
If you have chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B, your family doctor will probably refer you to a gastroenterologist or other subspecialist who treats people who have chronic liver problems. There are a number of medical treatments available that are often successful. These include treatment with antiviral medicines.
Treatment may take a year or more, depending on the severity of the infection and the response to treatment.