Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infectious diseases that are spread through sexual contact. STDs are on the rise, possibly due to more sexually active people who have multiple sex partners during their lives. Learn more about STDs ›

Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs is the acronym for sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are passed from one person to another during sexual contact. Some STDs can also be passed to another person through other means, such as through blood transfusions or from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

STDs are very common, especially among young people ages 15 to 24. There are about 19 million new cases of STDs in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Source: CDC).

STDs include:

  • Chancroid

  • Chlamydia

  • Genital herpes

  • Genital warts

  • Gonorrhea

  • Hepatitis


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • Pubic lice (crabs)

  • Scabies

  • Syphilis

  • Trichomoniasis

Most STDs are highly preventable. If diagnosed early, some STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be quickly and easily treated and cured before serious complications develop.

Learn more about symptoms of STDs

Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Treating a sexually transmitted disease early limits the problems they can cause. If you have an STD, get treated right away. Ask your partner to be tested, too. Then avoid sex until you’ve finished treatment and your healthcare provider says it’s okay to have sex again.

Treatment depends on the type of STD you have. Common treatments include injections and oral pills or liquids. Creams and gels can be applied to sores caused by certain STDs. Follow the tips below:

  • Get new treatment for each new STD.

  • Don’t use old medication, even for the same STD. Use medications as directed.

  • Don’t share medication unless instructed to do so by your doctor or clinic.

Learn more about treatment for STDs

Living with Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sex in a monogamous relationship where neither party is infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is believed to be "safe." However, many health care professionals believe there really is no such thing as "safe" sex. They believe the only way to be truly safe is to abstain because all forms of sexual contact carry some risk.

For example, kissing is thought to be a safe activity, but herpes, and other diseases can be contracted this way.

Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. However, while it is true that condoms are useful in preventing certain diseases, such as herpes and gonorrhea, they may not fully protect against other diseases such as genital warts, syphilis, or AIDS.

Learn more about living with STDs

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