Sexually transmitted diseases, also called sexually transmitted infections, are always a potential risk if you’re sexually active. While some STDs are difficult to avoid – and all are preventable with abstinence – prevention can do a lot to keep you safe.
Learning about the most common STDs is an important part of learning how to avoid them. In this blog, Dr. Alan Patterson explains what the most common sexually transmitted diseases are and how you can prevent them.
What are the most common STDs?
The most common sexually transmitted diseases – or sexually transmitted infections (called STIs) - include the following:
This sexually-transmitted disease is the most common STD that’s easily curable. It infects the cervix but is particularly problematic because you may not even know that you have it. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility in both men and women.
If you do have symptoms, women may have pain during sex and men may have discharge from their penis.
Gonorrhea, also more commonly known as “the clap,” is caused by bacteria. It’s also on the rise, with more than 120 cases per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea can also infect your throat as a result of performing oral sex.
Gonorrhea often causes a burning sensation when you urinate. You may also have a discharge that’s green, yellow, or white from your penis or vagina. Although most cases of gonorrhea are treatable with antibiotics, there is a growing issue of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
Syphilis is an STD that’s been around for a long time. It’s caused by a bacteria and can get worse if it’s left untreated. Early symptoms are small sores, called chancres. If these sores go away, however, that doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. You can have other symptoms of later syphilis that develop in other parts of your body, including your central nervous system.
Treatment is usually a single injection of penicillin, but you may need more than one injection if your syphilis has been allowed to progress.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, may be the most common STD. Although there is now a vaccine that can prevent it, as many as 25 percent of women had HPV at any given time before the vaccine became available.
Also known as the “cervical cancer virus,” HPV can also cause other types of cancer, including penile and anal cancer. There is no cure for HPV, but you can manage the symptoms.
Herpes is another common STD. There are two types of herpes virus. Herpes type 1 is the virus associated with causing cold sores in your mouth. Herpes virus 2 is sexually transmitted and like HPV, is not curable but can be managed.
How to prevent STDs
You can prevent STDs by remaining monogamous to your partner. You should also get tested for sexually transmitted infections between relationships to make sure that you don’t have an STD.
When you’re in a new relationship or have non-monogamous relationships, you should use latex condoms. Although condoms don’t provide 100% effectiveness against all STDs, they are the most effective method of avoiding new infections.
If you’re using other forms of birth control, such as the Pill, you are not protected against STDs. You should use condoms in addition to your other form of birth control until you can get tested.
If you have concerns about whether or not you may have a sexually transmitted disease or infection, contact Dr. Alan Patterson today or request an appointment online.