Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, venereal diseases) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States today. STDs are sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted infections, since these conditions involve the transmission of an infectious organism between sex partners. More than 20 different STDs have been identified, and about 15 million men and women are infected each year in the World.
Depending on the disease, the infection can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus, or the mouth; an infection can also be spread through contact with blood during sexual activity. STDs are infrequently transmitted by any other type of contact (blood, body fluids or tissue removed from an STD infected person and placed in contact with an uninfected person); however, people that share unsterilized needles markedly increase the chance to pass many diseases, including STD’s (especially hepatitis B), to others.
Some diseases are not considered to be officially an STD but are infrequently noted to be transferred during sexual activity. Consequently, some authors include them as STD’s, others do not. Consequently, lists of STD’s can vary, depending on whether the STD is usually transmitted by sexual contact or only infrequently transmitted.
• STDs affect men and women of all ages and backgrounds, including children. Many states require that Child Protective Services be notified if children are diagnosed with an STD.
• STDs have become more common in recent years, partly because people are becoming sexually active at a younger age, are having multiple partners, and do not use preventive methods to lessen their chance of acquiring an STD.
• People can pass STDs to sexual partners even if they themselves do not have any symptoms.
• Frequently, STDs can be present but cause no symptoms, especially in women (for example, chlamydia, genital herpes or gonorrhea). This can also occur in some men.
• Health problems and long-term consequences from STDs tend to be more severe for women than for men. Some STDs can cause pelvic infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may cause a tubo-ovarian abscess. The abscess, in turn, may lead to scarring of the reproductive organs, which can result in an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus), infertility or even death for a woman.
• Human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection), an STD, is a known cause of cancer of the cervix.
• Many STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby before, during, or immediately after birth.
• Because the method of becoming infected is similar with all STDs, a person often obtains more than one pathogenic organism at a time. For example, many people (about 50%) are infected at a single sexual contact with both gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Causes
Depending on the disease, STDs can be spread with any type of sexual activity. STDs are most often caused by viruses and bacteria. The following is a list of the most common STDs, their causes and other infections (see STDs with asterisk mark*) that may be transmitted on occasion by sexual activity, but are frequently not considered primarily to be an STD by many investigators.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Symptoms
Common sexually transmitted disease have a variety of symptoms (if symptoms develop at all) and many different complications, including death.
Diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Disease
Testing for STD (sexually transmitted disease) is done by swabbing the infected site (rectum, throat, cervix) and identifying the bacteria in the laboratory either through culturing of the material from the swab (growing the bacteria) or identification of the genetic material from the bacteria. Sometimes the tests do not show bacteria because of sampling errors (the sampled area does not contain bacteria) or other technical difficulties, even when the woman has an infection.