Home Sexual Reproductive Health 9 Most Common STDs: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment Options

9 Most Common STDs: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment Options

Suspect you have an STD / STI? Check if you match the symptoms here and find out what to do about it.

If you have sex, it is entirely possible that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). While nobody likes talking about it, STDs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are incredibly common and should not be swept under the carpet, as they can lead to infertility and even cancer.

Unlike on TV, STD or STI symptoms aren’t always obvious, and you’ll need to be on the lookout so you can get treatment asap. Below are the most common STDs to affect sexually active people, how to spot them, and how you can treat them:

1. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Genital Warts

What is it

HPV refers to a group of viruses that affect your skin. It is a highly contagious STI that affects almost all sexually active people at some point in their lives. There are more than 40 types of HPV and most of them go away on their own. However, some will lead to genital warts, while other types may cause certain types of cancers.

Source: drnicoll.com

Source: drnicoll.com

How do people get it

HPV is usually transmitted through genital contact (vaginal / anal sex), and can also be passed through oral sex and genital-to-genital contact

What are the signs

Most people never develop any symptoms from HPV, while some will develop genital warts. The only foolproof way to finding out if you have HPV is to go for a screening (usually in the form of a Pap test)

How do I treat it

There is no cure for HPV itself, but there are treatment options for the problems that arise due to HPV, such as genital warts and certain types of cancer. If you suspect you have any of these medical issues, talk to your doctor.

How do I prevent it

If you’re not sexually active yet, the best form of prevention is to get a HPV vaccination (usually done when you’re 11-13 years old. Both males and females should get vaccinated).

For the sexually active

  1. Use condoms and make sure you use them right. However, HPV can still infect parts that aren’t protected by the condom, so this isn’t the best protection you can get.
  2. Be in a committed monogamous relationship where you and your partner only have sex with each other. The less sexual partners you have, the less chances of you getting exposed to HPV.
  3. Go for regular check-ups. Pap smears help detect the first signs of cervical cancer, when it is in a treatable condition. Getting tested regularly may just save your life.

2. Chlamydia

What is it

Chlamydia is an STD caused by a parasitic bacterium that infects both men and women. If left untreated, chlamydia could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (which can cause infertility), and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy which occurs outside of the womb) for women. For men, chlamydia could cause an infection in the urethra, epididymitis (which carries sperm from the testes), or an inflammation of the rectum.

Source: http://www.std-hiv-clinic.hk/pic/62878340.jpg

Source: std-hiv-clinic.hk

How do people get it

Vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.

What are the signs

Most people show no symptoms of chlamydia. And if there are symptoms, they don’t appear until many weeks after you’ve been infected.

Symptoms for women: 

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain while urinating
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful periods
  • Abdominal pain with fever
  • Pain when having sex
  • Itching or burning in / around the vagina

Symptoms for men: 

  • Cloudy / clear discharge from penis
  • Pain while urinating
  • Burning / itching around opening of penis
  • Pain and swelling around the testicles (less common)

How do I treat it

Most of the time, you’ll probably not know even if you’ve been infected by chlamydia as signs are not apparent. It’s best to get checked by your doctor, who will run tests by taking a swab from your urethra (men), and cervix (ladies).

Treatment is usually in the form of oral antibiotics and the infection usually clears up within a week or two.

How do I prevent it

  1. Use condoms correctly.
  2. Limit your sex partners or be in a monogamous relationship.
  3. Go for regular check-ups. The infection is easily cured so don’t let it get out of hand.

3. Gonorrhea

What is it

Gonorrhea is an STD which can cause infections in your genitals, rectum, and throat. If left untreated, gonorrhea will spread, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can lead to damage to reproductive organs and other serious issues.

How do people get it

Vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.

What are the signs

Symptoms for women: 

  • Most of the women infected with gonorrhea show no signs
  • If there are symptoms, they are usually in the form of vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, or pain with intercourse, which can often be mistaken to be bladder / vaginal infection.

Symptoms for men: 

  • Pain while urinating
  • White, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
  • Pain and swelling around the testicles (less common)

How do I treat it

If you suspect you have gonorrhea, go see a doctor. Your doctor will run a urine test, or take swabs from your throat or rectum.

Gonorrhea can easily be treated with oral antibiotics, as long as you are a good boy / girl and finish all the meds your doctor gives you. If symptoms do not go away, go back to your doctor as this may be because you’ve been infected with a more resistant form of gonorrhea.

How do I prevent it

  1. Always use condoms, and use  them correctly.
  2. Limit your sex partners or be in a monogamous relationship.
  3. Go for regular check-ups.

4. Syphilis

What is it

Syphilis is a highly contagious STD that is spread from sores. If left untreated, syphilis could cause serious problems like dementia, blindness, or death. If a pregnant woman is infected with syphilis, it could lead to a stillbirth or her baby dying shortly after birth.

How do people get it

Usually in sexual activity like vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Make out sessions which involve prolonged kissing and close contact could also spread the disease. It can also be spread from an infected mother to her baby.

What are the signs

There are three stages of a syphilis infection:

Primary Stage

  • You’ll develop one or more sores which are painless.
  • These will appear on your genitals or in and around your mouth about 10-90 days after you’ve been infected.
  • These sores will heal by themselves even without treatment.

Secondary Stage 

  • This stage lasts between 1-3 months
  • You’ll notice a rash on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, but also in your mouth and genitals.
  • The rash will look like rough, reddish / brown spots.
  • They aren’t itchy and you may not even notice it.
  • Other symptoms include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, white patches inside of the mouth, weight loss etc.
  • All these symptoms too will be gone without treatment.

Latent Stage

  • This stage begins when all the symptoms from previous stages have disappeared.
  • You’ll continue having syphilis for years with no signs or symptoms.

Tertiary Stage

  • Most people with untreated syphilis do not develop tertiary stage syphilis, however if it does happen, it’ll be very serious and would occur 10-30 years after you were first infected.
  • You’ll face several problems with your heart, brain, and nerves which can lead to paralysis, blindness, dementia, deafness, impotence and even death.
Source: pathguy.com

Source: pathguy.com

How do I treat it

As symptoms of syphilis aren’t very obvious, it’ll do you good to get a check-up. Syphilis is easily diagnosed with a blood test.

Once you’ve been diagnosed, it’s just a matter of getting some antibiotics into your system.

How do I prevent it

  1. Always use a condom.
  2. This is common sense, but avoid being intimate with someone you think / know is infected.

5. Herpes

What is it

Herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1, or oral herpes) or the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2, or genital herpes).

How do people get it

Vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone infected by herpes. Herpes can be spread through fluids in a herpes sore, and also through skin-on-skin contact (even if the infected person shows no signs of infection).

Source: wikipedia.org

Source: wikipedia.org

What are the signs

  • Tingling, itching, burning sensations: this usually happens before blisters appear and lasts for a day or so.
  • Sores:
    – Oral herpes: Painful, fluid-filled blisters around the mouth or on the lips, but also anywhere on the skin.
    – Genital herpes: Sores on the penis, vagina, butt, or anus, but also anywhere on the skin.
  • Flu-like symptoms:
    – Oral herpes: fever, muscle aches, or swollen glands in the neck
    – Genital herpes: swollen glands in the groin
  • Problems urinating / burning sensation while urinating 
  • Eye infection

How do I treat it

There’s currently no cure for herpes, but there are medication that can lessen the symptoms of the outbreak. There are also medication you can take which helps reduce the risk of you spreading it to others.

How do I prevent it

  1. Always use a condom.
  2. Be in a monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested negative for STDs.

6. Trichomoniasis

What is it

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called the Trichomonas vaginalis. If left untreated, trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation, raising your risk of contracting HIV. Pregnant women infected with trichomoniasis are also more likely to give birth too early.

How do people get it

You can get trichomoniasis through sexual contact.

What are the signs

70% of people who are infected with trichomoniasis do not notice any signs and symptoms. If it does cause symptoms, it usually occurs 5 to 28 days after infection, while some develop symptoms much later.

Symptoms for men: 

  • Itchy or irritated penis
  • Painful urination / ejaculation
  • Discharge from penis

Symptoms for women: 

  • Itchy, burning, red, or sore genitals
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal itching / irritation
  • Strange-smelling thin discharge (clear, white, yellowish or greenish)

How do I treat it

Diagnosis usually requires a lab test of either vaginal fluid or urethral fluid. Once diagnosed, you’ll be prescribed with an oral antibiotic to treat the STD.

How do I prevent it

  1. Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
  2. Be in a committed monogamous relationship.
  3. Go for regular check-ups.

7. Bacterial Vaginosis

What is it

Bacterial vaginosis is a mild infection of the vagina. This happens when the bad bacteria in your vagina outnumbers the good bacteria in your vagina.

How do people get it

Experts are not certain why bacterial vaginosis happens, but you up your risk if you have more than one sex partner, or if you douche.

Source: wikihow.com

Source: wikihow.com

What are the signs

  • Smelly vaginal discharge that’s greyish white or yellow.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Itching around the vagina.

How do I treat it

Bacterial vaginosis may sometimes go away on its own, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to go see a doctor if you suspect you have it. Your doctor may prescribe you some antibiotics to treat the STD.

How do I prevent it

  1. Limit your sex partners to one.
  2. Stop douching.

8. HIV/AIDS

What is it

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that can lead to AIDS (or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV affects specific cells in your immune system, destroying them over time so your body can’t fight off infections and disease. This is when HIV leads to AIDS.

Source: aids.gov

Source: aids.gov

How do people get it

HIV is spread through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing drug injection equipment with an infected person.

What are the signs

Many people who have HIV do not show any symptoms for 10 years or more. Some report flu-like symptoms about 2 to 4 weeks after infection. These include: fever, enlarged lymph node, sore throat, or rash.

However, the only way to figure out if you have HIV is to get tested.

How do I treat it

Unfortunately, your body is unable to get rid of HIV, so once you contract HIV, it stays for life. However, there are medications that help you live a normal life with HIV.

How do I prevent it

  1. Never share needles.
  2. Limit your sexual partners or remain in a monogamous relationship with a single person who’s been tested negative.
  3. Always use condoms each time you have sex (and make sure you use them right).

9. Hepatitis B

What is it

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus which can lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer, and even death.

How do people get it

Hepatitis B is transmitted through infected blood or other bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, and open sores.

Source: nytimes.com

Source: nytimes.com

What are the signs

Symptoms usually show up 1-6 months after exposure, and these include:

  • Yellowing of your skin / whites of eyes
  • Light coloured poop
  • Fever
  • Fatigue that lasts for weeks / months
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain

Sometimes, there are also no symptoms, and can only be caught in a blood test.

How do I treat it

If you’re treated within 2 weeks of exposure, you’ll only need a vaccination, as well as a job of hepatitis immune globulin to boost your immune system so it can fight off the infection.

However, chronically infected individuals may have to undergo longer treatment in the form of bed rest and a healthy diet to ensure your liver doesn’t get damaged.

How do I prevent it

  1. Get vaccinated.
  2. Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
  3. Protect yourself from bodily fluids of others (wear gloves when touching things like bandages, tampons, etc)
  4. Cover your open wounds / cuts.
  5. Do not share razors, toothbrushes, earrings etc.

Getting an STD might sound very scary, but most of the time the treatment is as simple as taking some antibiotics. It’s best to get checked often if you are sexually active with multiple partners so you can catch the disease before it’s too late.

Most hospitals and even small clinics in Malaysia offer screening for sexually transmitted infections / diseases, just ask if you’re unsure.

_____

What’s your greatest fear when it comes to STDs? Discuss in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!

 

Sources: Center for Disease Control (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) | WebMD (1,2,3,4) | American Academy of Dermatology
A writer with a penchant for alliteration, Jolene is also a seaweed and green tea junkie in a love/hate relationship with working out. She likes reading everything, from cereal boxes to tombstone inscriptions, and trying to find meaning behind the words.

1 COMMENT

  1. What a great man, a great thanks to DR.Sk the man that bring me out of this sorrow this is the man that can as well help the world, on this diseases I can remember 5 year ago when I was searching for cure, and how I have spent much money and I finally lost hope due to my conduction I have to put my hope on god, lucky to me last week here I was on the internet, check on how many year I can spent on earth them I see a comment about this great man DR.SK what a lucky day for me and today am giving my testimony about him I have never believe there is cure at all, but this man just want me to give him a try, if he cannot do it I will know his is not DR.SK that he have been doing this cure for more than many year now I put my hope on him and also my dear god but today am very happy to give this story to you all, it all happen when I was 23 year well because of this disease I can get married and very happy today am now negative I can get married now to my follow people that is on my shoes this the good way to say bye to this diseases HIV/AIDS contact this man now drskhivhomefcure@outlook.com and i pray that he will help you also.All thanks to DR.SK.

Share a Thought