Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) In Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Genital Herpes Symptoms

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Genital herpes is a common condition affecting around 45 million people in the U.S. The herpes viruses responsible for genital herpes are transmitted through close personal contact such as sexual contact.

The symptoms of an initial infection can include:

  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Genital itching, burning, or discomfort
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A feeling of pressure in the abdomen

Quick GuideSTD Diagnosis, Images, Symptoms, Treatment

STD Diagnosis, Images, Symptoms, Treatment

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) facts

  • STDs are infections that are transmitted during any type of sexual contact.
  • Many STDs in women do not cause specific symptoms.
  • Common STDs in women include Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, and genital herpes.
  • Antibiotic treatment can cure STDs caused by bacteria, including Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
  • No cure is available for some STDs like HIV or chronic hepatitis B infection, but medications are available to manage these chronic conditions.
  • Complications of STDs depend upon the specific type of illness, but pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility are complications of some STDs.
  • Condoms can protect against some, but not all, STDs and are never 100% effective in protecting against STDs.

What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that can be transferred from one person to another through any type of sexual contact. STDs are sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since they involve the transmission of a disease-causing organism from one person to another during sexual activity. It is important to realize that sexual contact includes more than just sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal). Sexual contact includes kissing, oral-genital contact, and the use of sexual "toys," such as vibrators. STDs probably have been around for thousands of years, but the most dangerous of these conditions, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or HIV disease), has only been recognized since 1984.

Many STDs are treatable, but effective cures are lacking for others, such as HIV, HPV, and hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Even gonorrhea, once easily cured, has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics. Many STDs can be present in, and spread by, people who do not have any symptoms of the condition and have not yet been diagnosed with an STD. Therefore, public awareness and education about these infections and the methods of preventing them is important.

There really is no such thing as "safe" sex. The only truly effective way to prevent STDs is abstinence. Sex in the context of a monogamous relationship wherein neither party is infected with an STD also is considered "safe." Most people think that kissing is a safe activity. But unfortunately, syphilis, herpes, and other infections can be contracted through this relatively simple and apparently harmless act. All other forms of sexual contact carry some risk. Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. Condoms are useful in decreasing the spread of certain infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea; however, they do not fully protect against other infections such as genital herpes, genital warts, syphilis, and AIDS. Prevention of the spread of STDs is dependent upon the counseling of at-risk individuals and the early diagnosis and treatment of infections.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2015
Next: Gonorrhea

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