Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) refers to any infection that is passed from person to person during sexual activity. This may happen by way of saliva, semen, blood, vaginal mucus, or urine. Common STDs include:

  • Gonorrhea.

  • Chlamydia.

  • Syphilis.

  • HIV/AIDS.

  • Genital herpes.

  • Hepatitis B and C.

  • Trichomonas.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).

  • Pubic lice.

CAUSES

An STD may be spread by bacteria, virus, or parasite. A person can get an STD by:

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected person.

  • Sharing sex toys with an infected person.

  • Sharing needles with an infected person.

  • Having intimate contact with the genitals, mouth, or rectal areas of an infected person.

SYMPTOMS

Some people may not have any symptoms, but they can still pass the infection to others. Different STDs have different symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Painful or bloody urination.

  • Pain in the pelvis, abdomen, vagina, anus, throat, or eyes.

  • Skin rash, itching, irritation, growths, or sores (lesions). These usually occur in the genital or anal area.

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • Penile discharge in men.

  • Soft, flesh-colored skin growths in the genital or anal area.

  • Fever.

  • Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.

  • Swollen glands in the groin area.

  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice). This is seen with hepatitis.

DIAGNOSIS

To make a diagnosis, your caregiver may:

  • Take a medical history.

  • Perform a physical exam.

  • Take a specimen (culture) to be examined.

  • Examine a sample of discharge under a microscope.

  • Perform blood tests.

  • Perform a Pap test, if this applies.

  • Perform a colposcopy.

  • Perform a laparoscopy.

TREATMENT

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotic medicine.

  • Genital herpes, hepatitis, and HIV can be treated, but not cured, with prescribed medicines. The medicines will lessen the symptoms.

  • Genital warts from HPV can be treated with medicine or by freezing, burning (electrocautery), or surgery. Warts may come back.

  • HPV is a virus and cannot be cured with medicine or surgery. However, abnormal areas may be followed very closely by your caregiver and may be removed from the cervix, vagina, or vulva through office procedures or surgery.

If your diagnosis is confirmed, your recent sexual partners need treatment. This is true even if they are symptom-free or have a negative culture or evaluation. They should not have sex until their caregiver says it is okay.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • All sexual partners should be informed, tested, and treated for all STDs.

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Rest.

  • Eat a balanced diet and drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Do not have sex until treatment is completed and you have followed up with your caregiver. STDs should be checked after treatment.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments, Pap tests, and blood tests as directed by your caregiver.

  • Only use latex condoms and water-soluble lubricants during sexual activity. Do not use petroleum jelly or oils.

  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.

  • Get vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis. If you have not received these vaccines in the past, talk to your caregiver about whether one or both might be right for you.

  • Avoid risky sex practices that can break the skin.

The only way to avoid getting an STD is to avoid all sexual activity. Latex condoms and dental dams (for oral sex) will help lessen the risk of getting an STD, but will not completely eliminate the risk.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have any new or worsening symptoms.