Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major health concern, with millions of new infections occurring in the United States every year. STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and can be transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. A person with an STD may not have any symptoms, but they can still transmit the infection to others through contact with the skin, genitals, mouth, rectum, or body fluids.
Even if there are no symptoms present, the health of the infected person may still be affected. It is difficult to diagnose an STD based on symptoms alone, so tests and screenings are necessary. The correct use of latex condoms greatly reduces the risk of contracting or transmitting STDs. However, it is important to note that condoms do not completely eliminate the risk.
If left untreated, some STDs can cause damage to reproductive organs and other organs in the body. Fortunately, most STDs can be treated with medication and some are completely curable. Common STDs include HIV, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, some forms of hepatitis, syphilis and trichomoniasis. If you are sexually active, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of contracting an STD and if you need to be tested.
There is no cure for STDs caused by viruses, but medications can often help with symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Most STDs affect both men and women; however, in many cases the health problems they cause may be more serious in women. It is important to understand how STDs are transmitted in order to prevent them from spreading. Here are three ways that STDs can be transmitted:
- Sexual contact: STDs can be transmitted through vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex.
- Mother-to-child transmission: Some STDs can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.
- Contact with infected body fluids: Contact with infected body fluids such as skin, genitals, mouth or rectum can also transmit an STD.