It is generally through sexual contact that STDs or sexually transmitted diseases or STIs or sexually transmitted infections are acquired. Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by organisms that could pass from one person to another through vaginal, blood, semen, and other body fluids.
There are also nonsexual kinds of transmission such as an infected to her baby from pregnancy to birth or through shared needles or blood transfusions.
People who may seem to be in the best of health may be the one to infect you especially when they are not even aware that they have the infection. Some people do not show symptoms even when they have STDs which is why the term ‘sexually transmitted infections’ is more preferred than ‘sexually transmitted diseases’.
STDs have several signs and symptoms which could most often be hardly noticeable until a partner is diagnosed or health complications happen. They may include:
- Bumps or sores on the rectal area, genitals or in the oral area
- Burning or painful urination
- Discharges from the penis
- Unpleasant-smelling discharges from the vagina
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Lymph nodes that are sore and swollen especially the groin area
- Lower stomach pain
- Rashes on feet, trunk or hands
Depending on the organism, symptoms may appear a few days after infection or could take years to show.
Consult a doctor right away if:
- You are experiencing STD signs and symptoms
- You are active sexually and you’ve been infected with an STD
Arrange for an appointment with a doctor:
- When you are 21 years old and want to become sexually active or vice-versa
- Before involving in a sexual relationship with a new partner
The following can cause sexually transmitted diseases:
- Viruses (HIV, human Papillomavirus, genital herpes)
- Bacteria (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis)
- Parasites (Trichomoniasis)
The main reason for getting infected is engaging in sexual relations, but getting infected without sex can also be possible such as Giardia intestinalis, shigella, and the viruses of Hepatitis A, B, and C.
If you are sexually active you have a high risk of getting infected and here are some factors that could up the ante:
- Unsafe sex. Sexual activity such as anal or vaginal penetration without using latex condom stand a high risk of getting infected with STD. Inconsistent and improper condom usage also increases the risk.
Oral sex needs a dental dam so infection cannot be passed.
- Multiple sex partners. You are more exposed to acquiring STD when you have multiple sex partners.
- Have a previous STD history. If you have STD such as Chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea or syphilis that has not been treated and you engage in unprotected sex with a partner who has HIV, you will get infected right away. You can also get re-infected if your current partner has not been treated.
- Sharing of needles. Injecting drugs and sharing the needles can spread a lot of serious infections such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV. If you get infected with HIV while sharing needles, there’s a good chance that you can pass it sexually.