STDs List: To Know About Sexually Transmitted Disease

STDs List To Know

Here are some common STDs and sexually-associated diseases that you should be knowledgeable about. View our detailed STDs list to learn about STD/STI symptoms, treatments, and how to protect yourself.

The List Of STDs

HIV/AIDS
Hepatitis
Chancroid
Trichomoniasis
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts
Herpes
Gonorrhea
Chlamydia Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Syphilis
Scabies
Pubic“Crab”Lice
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

HIV/AIDS

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is transmitted by blood and body fluids.

Symptom Overview

Most HIV infections do not have any symptoms. A person infected with HIV can remain healthy and symptom-free for many years.

If HIV leads to AIDS, serious symptoms can develop and can ultimately lead to death. Signs and symptoms may include everything from fever and rashes to lesions, soaking night sweats and blurred vision.

Treatment

There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatment options that allow HIV-positive individuals to live long, healthy lives.

If someone is exposed to HIV, or thinks he or she may have been exposed, there is a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) that can reduce the likelihood of HIV infection occurring.

PEP is medication that should be started as quickly as possible, no later than 72 hours after the exposure.

Considerations

Although treatment options have improved greatly in recent years, HIV remains a very serious threat.

Many people are unaware of their status until later stages, but unfortunately people are the most contagious soon after becoming infected. Being infected with other STIs can make you more susceptible to HIV.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for HIV.

Latex condoms and dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

In addition to sex, HIV can be transmitted through any one of the following: the process of delivering a baby, breastfeeding if the mother is infected, and sharing needles.

Hepatitis

There are three different kinds of hepatitis, some of which are spread more easily than others. Hepatitis A, B and C can all be transmitted sexually, however hepatitis B is the type most likely to be sexually transmitted.

All types of hepatitis are serious and affect the liver. Hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer and are the most common reason for liver transplants.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Symptom Overview

Most HAV infections will cause symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice and liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

There are no specific cures for HAV or HBV. There are vaccines available and post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection. There are also medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Considerations

HAV is spread through fecal contamination, meaning that it can be spread through anal sex. HAV can also be spread by people preparing or eating food after going to the bathroom and not washing their hands.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis. The most effective way to protect yourself from HAV and HBV is to get vaccinated.

The vaccines are given in either a series of two shots or three shots (depending on the vaccine) over a six-to-twelve-month period.

There is a vaccine available for adults that protects against both HAV and HBV that requires a series of three shots over the course of six months. Latex condoms can also reduce your risk.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Symptom Overview

Many HBV infections will not cause any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include joint pain, skin eruptions, a hive-like rash, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice, and liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

There are no specific cures for HAV or HBV. There are vaccines available and post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection. There are also medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Considerations

HBV is spread through blood and other bodily fluids like pus, semen, and vaginal secretions.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis.

There is no vaccine for HCV. Do not share needles (including those used for piercing or tattooing) or razors. Latex condoms can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Symptom Overview

Most HCV infections do not cause symptoms, but will occasionally cause fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice or liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

HCV is curable – but it’s not always easy. New research is underway on treatments and a knowledgeable health care provider will be able to make specific recommendation for a course of care.

Considerations

HCV is spread primarily through blood. It has been detected in other bodily fluids, but transmission usually occurs when there is some kind of blood exchange.

HCV is typically spread by needle sharing, but can be spread through sex if blood or bloody secretions are present.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis.

There is no vaccine for HCV. Do not share needles (including those used for piercing or tattooing) or razors. Latex condoms can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

Chancroid

Chancroid is a bacterial STI that is only spread through sexual contact. It causes painful ulcers or sores in the genital region.

Symptom Overview

Women with chancroid often have no symptoms. Men will usually have a painful, erosive ulcer with ragged edges somewhere on the penis. Tissue around the sores can die and lead to more serious infection if not treated.

Treatment

Chancroid can be treated with antibiotics. Severe ulcers may need to be drained or dead skin may need to be removed to prevent further, more serious infection.

Considerations

Chancroid is not very common in the United States and is most often seen among commercial sex workers or their sex partners/clients.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for chancroid.

Using latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

But because chancroid is spread through skin-to-skin contact, condoms do not fully protect against the spread of the bacteria.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI. Millions of people are infected each year in the United States.

Symptom Overview

Signs in women include excessive, frothy, yellowish or greenish vaginal discharge. There may also be swelling of the vulva and labia along with painful urination.

Symptoms in men may include painful urination with lesions on the penis, but most men with trichomoniasis will have no symptoms.

Treatment

Trichomoniasis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. It is extremely important to treat partners of anyone with trichomoniasis because reinfection is very common.

Considerations

Avoid drinking alcohol until 24–48 hours after finishing treatment (depending on the type of antibiotic prescribed). Trichomoniasis has been linked to an increased risk of HIV acquisition.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for trichomoniasis.

Latex condoms and dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts

HPV is the most common STD and at least 50% of sexually active people will get it at some time in their lives. The body usually clears HPV on its own without causing any problems, but HPV can lead to certain kinds of cancer.

Symptom Overview

There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Most of the time there are no symptoms and the virus clears on its own, but several types can cause genital warts or lead to vaginal, anal, throat and cervical cancer.

The types of HPV that cause warts do not cause cancer, but they can indicate a higher risk for having the types of HPV that are linked to cancer. The types of HPV that can cause cancer do not show any signs.

Treatment

The body will usually clear HPV infections on its own within a couple of months. Warts can be treated in several different ways:

  1. Patient can apply creams, gels, and solutions (prescribed by health care provider)
  2. A health care provider can freeze them off with liquid nitrogen
  3. A health care provider can burn them off with trichloroacetic acid or bichloroacetic acid
  4. A health care provider can apply a tincture or ointment that will remove the warts
  5. A health care provider can cut off the warts using a scalpel, scissors, curette or electro-surgery

All of these options may take multiple treatments to completely remove warts.

Cancer-causing HPV can be monitored in females through regular Pap tests, but there is no specific treatment to eliminate HPV from the body.

If the HPV causes abnormal cells to form, a health care provider will likely remove the cells and biopsy them.

Depending on the type of abnormalities, the provider may recommend a colposcopy (a special exam that magnifies the walls of the vagina and cervix) or LEEP (a procedure to remove the abnormal cells before they can cause cancer).

Considerations

HPV is extremely common and there is no general test for the virus’ many forms. Although there is no cure, the body will usually clear the HPV infection on its own.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or to be monogamous with one long-term partner who is not infected with HPV.

There is a vaccine that can prevent most types of HPV that cause genital warts and lead to cancer in males and females.

For women, regular Pap tests can detect HPV and abnormal cells before cancer can form. Currently there is no approved test to detect HPV in the throat or mouth.

Using dental dams or latex condoms for penetrative or oral sex can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

But because HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, condoms and dental dams do not fully protect against the spread of the virus.

Since HPV is so common, and almost every sexually-active person will get HPV at some time in their lives, it is important to protect against the possible health effects of it.

Herpes

Herpes is a common STD and a lot of people who have it don’t even know. There is no cure for herpes, but there is treatment that can lessen symptoms and decrease the likelihood of passing it on to someone else.

Symptom Overview

Most of the time herpes doesn’t cause any symptoms. When there are signs, they can include blisters around the genitals or anus. The first outbreak of sores is usually the worst.

A person with herpes may have additional outbreaks of sores weeks or months after the first outbreak. These additional outbreaks are less severe, heal faster and occur less often over time.

Treatment

There is no cure for herpes, but there are antiviral medications that can shorten and prevent outbreaks of sores as long as the person continues the medication. Taking this medicine every day can reduce the risk of passing the virus to a partner.

Considerations

Condoms can help reduce the risk of passing herpes from one person to another, but they are not 100% effective.

If you or your partner is having an outbreak of sores, you should abstain until they are fully healed. It is much easier to pass or catch the virus when sores are present.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for herpes.

Using latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

But because herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, condoms do not fully protect against the spread of the virus.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs in the United States and can lead to infertility in men and women.

It is both treatable and preventable, though scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to all currently utilized antibiotics.

Symptom Overview

Many people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. Those who do might notice unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and/or pain or difficultly peeing.

Men may have swelling in their testicles and women may bleed in between periods. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility without ever showing symptoms. It can also spread to the blood and joints.

Treatment

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics, usually given in a single dose. If you’re being treated, your partner should be tested too.

You should also wait until you and your partner(s) finish your treatment and until your symptoms disappear (if you have them) before you start having sex again. This is to make sure you don’t spread the infection.

Considerations

In addition to the urethra and vagina, gonorrhea can also cause infections in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for gonorrhea.

Using latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and is the leading cause of preventable infertility in the United States.

If left untreated, Chlamydia may also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women. Chlamydia is both treatable and preventable.

Symptom Overview

Most people with Chlamydia don’t have any symptoms, but those who do might have unusual genital discharge and/or pain and burning when urinating.

Women may also have lower back or abdominal pain, nausea, pain during sex, or bleeding after sex and/or between periods.

Treatment

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. Some antibiotics can cure it in just one dose, while others may need to be used for seven days. If you’ve been treated, your partner(s) should get tested and/or treated, too.

And you should wait seven days or until you and your partner(s) finish the antibiotics (whichever is longer) before having sex again. This is to make sure you don’t spread the infection.

Considerations

Chlamydia can be spread by oral, anal or vaginal sex and cause infection in the anus, mouth or throat in addition to the penis or vagina.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for Chlamydia.

Using latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age and it occurs when there is an overgrowth of certain “bad” bacteria in the vagina.

Symptom Overview

BV occurs when the balance between “good” and “harmful” bacteria is thrown off. Often there are no symptoms at all, but sometimes BV is accompanied by unusual discharge, strong odor, painful urination, itching, or burning.

Treatment

BV can be treated with antibiotic pills, vaginal creams or suppositories. Sometimes BV will clear up on its own, but getting treatment is important to avoid complications.

Considerations

BV is considered a sexually associated infection, not specifically an STI. This is because it can be spread through sexual contact, but women can also get this infection unrelated to sexual activity. It is simply an imbalance in the bacteria in the vagina.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for BV.

Using latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection. Also avoid douching, as this can remove good bacteria and make BV worse.

Syphilis

Syphilis is spread by contact with open sores (usually during sex). If left untreated it can cause serious health problems, including brain and nervous system damage, blood infection and even death.

If early action is taken, syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. Syphilis prevalence is growing in the United States, particularly among men who have sex with men.

Symptom Overview

Early signs may include a small, painless, firm sore in or around the vagina, penis, mouth or anus. This can be followed by rash on the body that is particularly noticeable on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Other, less common signs and symptoms may include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue.

Treatment

Early-diagnosed syphilis can be treated and cured easily with an injection of penicillin (preferred) or 14 days of antibiotics (for patients allergic to penicillin).

For people who have syphilis that was undiagnosed for more than one year, it can be treated and cured with a longer course of stronger antibiotics (an injection once a week for three weeks).

Considerations

If a pregnant woman contracts syphilis, it can lead to the death of the fetus. Syphilis can be spread through oral, vaginal and anal sex with sores being present on the lips, mouth, and anus in addition to the genitals.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for syphilis. Latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Scabies

Scabies is parasites that infect the skin and cause really intense itching. Scabies is transferred by skin-to-skin contact and can occur anywhere on the body.

This means that while scabies can be passed through sexual contact, it is usually passed through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact.

Symptom Overview

Scabies causes intense itching and a pimply rash. The itching will often be worse at night than during the day.

Itching and rash most often show up on the penis, buttocks, wrist, nipples, waist, shoulder blades, armpits, elbows and between the fingers, but it is not limited to these areas.

Sometimes scabies might also result in tiny burrows in the skin caused by the female mites tunneling beneath the skin. If a person has scabies for the first time, it will usually take 2-6 weeks for symptoms to start appearing.

For those who have had scabies before, symptoms can occur in as little as 24 hours. It is important to know that even when symptoms are not present, scabies can still spread.

Treatment

Prescription creams called scabicides can be used to treat scabies. These creams kill the mites and some also kill the eggs. The cream will be applied to the skin from the neck down to the toes and washed off after 8-14 hours.

There is also an antibiotic that can be taken by mouth in a single dose, followed by another single dose two weeks later.

Because scabies are so easy to pass from one person to another any sexual partners and close personal or household contacts should be examined and treated.

Bedding and clothing must also be decontaminated by machine washing and drying on hot cycle or dry cleaning. Removing from body contact for at least 72 hours will also ensure that the mites can’t be transmitted.

Considerations

Although scabies is most commonly spread through skin-to-skin contact, it can be spread through sexual contact with someone who has scabies.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who does not have scabies. Condoms do not protect against infection.

Pubic“Crab”Lice

Pubic or“crab”lice are parasitic insects that survive by feeding on human blood. Pubic lice are different parasites than head or body lice and are usually found in the pubic hair, but can also be found in other course body hair like eyebrows, beard, chest or armpit hair.

Symptom Overview

Pubic lice can cause itching, blue spots, and sores in the infected area. It may also be possible to see grey-white lice or hair nits (the egg form of pubic lice).

Treatment

Prescription or over-the-counter shampoos or solutions can be used to treat pubic lice. In addition to treating the lice, clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water and dried in a dryer or dry cleaned. It is not necessary to fumigate living quarters.

Considerations

Although pubic lice are most commonly spread through sexual contact, they can be spread through sharing clothing or bedding with someone who has pubic lice. They are not spread by cats, dogs or other animals.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who does not have pubic lice. Condoms do not protect against infection.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID can be caused by many different bacteria, including Chlamydia and gonorrhea. It occurs when these bacteria move up from the vagina or cervix into the uterus and other reproductive organs.

Symptom Overview

Many women with PID don’t have any symptoms at all. If they do have symptoms, they may include abdominal, cervical or uterine pain or tenderness, along with fever or chills. Symptoms of PID usually occur in the first five to ten days of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Treatment

Numerous bacteria can cause PID, so it is treated with a combination of antibiotics. Depending on the severity of symptoms, antibiotics may be given through an IV or orally. Some PID infections may require hospitalization.

Considerations

If left untreated, PID can have potentially life-threatening complications, including ectopic pregnancy and pelvic abscess. It can also lead to infertility, chronic abdominal pain, pelvic scar tissue, hysterectomy, and depression.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or to be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for genital bacterial infections associated with PID in females.

Latex condoms or dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infections that lead to PID.

Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC)

MPC is caused by Chlamydia, gonorrhea or other STIs, and can lead to PID if left untreated.

Symptom Overview

Although MPC sometimes comes with no signs or symptoms, for women it can cause bleeding during or after sex, unusual vaginal discharge, spotting between periods, lower abdominal pain or pain during sex.

Treatment

Depending on symptoms and the results of other STI tests, there are several different kinds of antibiotics that might be prescribed to treat MPC.

Even after treatment, you may be asked to schedule a follow-up to make sure the infection is totally cleared up and there is no risk of getting PID later.

Considerations

Avoid douching because it can actually hide the symptoms of MPC making it harder to diagnose and treat.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who does not have MPC or any other STI.

Using latex condoms and dental dams can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that can be spread sexually and by non-sexual contact through contaminated objects like towels, clothing or sex toys.

Symptom Overview

Symptoms include shiny, smooth, white, dimpled bumps, with a curd-like core and itching on the genitals and trunk area.

Treatment

Molluscum contagiosum will usually go away on its own within a year without treatment. The bumps can be removed by a health care provider in a number of different ways, which is usually done only when there are ten or fewer lesions.

Considerations

Sometimes molluscum contagiosum can lead to a more serious infection such as staphylococcus, so lesions should be monitored for signs of infection.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who does not have molluscum contagiosum or any other STI.

Using latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection. But because molluscum contagiosum can be spread by other means, condoms do not fully protect against spreading the virus.

Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

LGV is not very common in the United States and is most often seen in individuals who have had unprotected receptive anal sex.

Symptom Overview

The first sign of LGV is a small painless ulcer at the point of infection—it may be so small, in fact, that it goes unnoticed. Swollen lymph nodes are the most common sign and usually appear a week to a month later. Stiffness and aching in the groin may also occur.

Treatment

LGV can be treated with a three-week course of antibiotics.

Considerations

If you or your partner is diagnosed with LGV, you should abstain from sex until your treatment is complete and all symptoms disappear to avoid reinfection.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for LGV.

Using latex condoms, particularly for anal sex, can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection.

Know Your Status. Get Tested.

How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases, You have the facts; now protect yourself and your sexual partners.

Abstinence

The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).

Vaccination

Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV.

It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger.

You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.

Reduce Number of Sex Partners

Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.

Mutual Monogamy

Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you.

Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs.

But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

Use Condoms

Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. But it is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention.

Bottom Line

Giving you control over your sexual health is one of the most important things we can do. Recommendations for treating persons who have or are at risk for STDs.

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Written by STDsSTIs

STDsSTIs is here to help people think, discuss and take responsible action on some of life’s biggest decisions – ones that often don’t get enough attention. We help raise the tough questions and ask young people to consider what really makes sense for them. Together, we can help Coloradans lead healthier lives and raise healthier families.

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