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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.

Return to Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STD)

See what others are saying

Comment from: righteousbabe, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 19

I admit having multiple sexual partners last year and never seen this happen to me. About a week ago or so I went to an obstetrician/gynecologist to check what is going on with me. I'm having a fishy vaginal discharge and having a trace of blood when I have sexual contact with my boyfriend. I was examined and had my sample tested on the lab. I was prescribed with a 10 day antibiotic (Doxicon) and a suppository. After doing a urinalysis and pap smear, I was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis. Based on the lab results, it is severe. My doctor again prescribed me a new set of antibiotic, which my boyfriend and I would take to avoid passing the bacteria. Going back on the first set of medication prescribed to me there had been a difference. The foul odor was gone. But I still experience discharge though minimal. Prior to my going to the doctor my discharge was a bit yellowish to greenish. But now it is white in color. I was hoping that I'll get treated or else it may end up worse. I was advised not to have any sexual contact during treatment.

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Comment from: bloodblonde94, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 05

I was diagnosed with gallstones in April of 2015 via ultrasound because of horrible upper stomach pain after eating fatty meals. I was sent to a surgeon who just suggested I remove the gallbladder. I have yet to do so, but my symptoms are worsening. I have had at least 2 major attacks where the upper stomach pain won't ease up for at least 30 minutes or longer, and I start sweating. These attacks happen mostly in the morning. Before I had any attacks, I would just get upper stomach and back pain (rib/shoulder blade area) after I ate or sometimes without eating at all, but it was relieved by sitting down and would go away. For my newer, severe attacks, I am currently trying apple cider vinegar (ACV). One tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water or whatever you prefer (I use Gatorade), seems to help a little bit. I am very much against surgery, especially since I have an enlarged liver for no apparent reason.

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Comment from: Concerned, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 03

I developed symptoms of HPV within 6 weeks after I engaged in sex with a new partner and when I brought it to his attention that something was wrong, lesions developed around my vulvar, he said he no lesions so did not believe me. I visited my GP and asked him to remove them and to send them to the lab. Results came back as skin tags with vague papilloma, and I was told it was not HPV and that I shouldn't worry about it. Months later I visited a gyno because of the daily discomfort (itching, tingling, burning) and more lesions forming and bigger. The gyno removed a few lesions and sent them to the lab but told me that they looked like moles but confirmation of what it is will come from the lab. The next day he phoned me to tell me that I tested positive for HPV type 39 and suggested laser treatment. This was done but within a month I had new breakouts and he prescribed Wartec. The lesions went away but came back again and more medication was prescribed, being Aldara but even though I was using it as prescribed not all the lesions went away. I then consulted my gp again and he burnt them and to date no new breakouts but the discomfort is still experienced daily. It's almost 2 years since I contracted the virus and living with the discomfort daily is unpleasant. What I have to say to all you women out there, always go for a second opinion as me doing say may have just extended my life and ensure that the description on the biopsy request is specific because the first one done for me was 'skin' thus came back as skin tags and the second 'vulvar lesions' which came back as HPV 39. Ladies, be careful because from what I read there is no cure, that your body will get rid of it and that there are usualy no symptoms but I experienced symptoms (itching, sharp pains, burning)and the guy said he experienced nothing. There is no test for men currently from the research that I've done on HPV so please be careful. If you have daughters, please educate them on this and get them vaccinated. Where I am right now is distressed and afraid because of the cancer risk and am going back to my gyno soon. I will keep you posted.

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