Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are a group of diseases that are passed through sexual contact or contact with bodily fluids. STDs include many different bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and the infections they cause range from mild to life-threatening. Most STDs are curable, yet some them — including HIV, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), and herpes — are not.

Sexually transmitted diseases can cause serious long-term effects. They raise the risk of infertility, miscarriage, and cancer, and in the case of HIV, lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

If you are sexually active, you should be aware of these diseases. Listed below are the most common STDs and how to protect yourself from them.

  1. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is among the common curable STDs. It can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Only up to half of all chlamydia cases are symptomatic, so without testing, there may be no way of knowing that you have contracted this STD.

In symptomatic cases, the most common signs of chlamydia include:

Chlamydia is easy to test for and treat (with antibiotics). After treatment, it’s a good idea to test again to make sure it’s really gone.


  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Most people get the human papillomavirus at some point in their lives. There are over 100 types of HPV and while some of them can only be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, others can be spread through touch. Some types of HPV cause genital warts. A few types of HPV can raise the risk of cervical cancer.

The HPV infection causes warts to grow on different parts of the body. Symptoms may include:

As the name states, HPV is a virus, and so it is incurable with antibiotics or any other medication. Most types of HPV will disappear on their own, but the more dangerous kinds — the ones that are linked with cervical cancer — can be prevented with the HPV vaccine.

  1. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another STD that you can treat with antibiotics. Carriers of this disease are often asymptomatic, but when symptoms do appear, they usually occur one day to two weeks after infection.

Symptoms include:

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  1. Syphilis

Bacteria can cause Syphilis, which is a common STD. The infection has four stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The primary stage includes a sore or sores at the site of infection. Secondary syphilis includes a rash, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. The latent stage is not marked by any symptoms, and the tertiary stage usually includes nerve and organ damage.

Antibiotics can be used to treat syphilis, and the earlier it is detected, the better the outcome.

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  1. Herpes

Herpes is a viral infection that comes in two forms: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is commonly associated with cold sores, and HSV-2 with genital sores and blisters, but it is possible to transmit oral herpes to the genitals and vice versa.

Herpes is very contagious and passes easily from one person to another. It is most contagious when a person has blisters, although blisters are not necessary in order for it to be transferred.

Since herpes is a virus, the way to manage symptoms is with antiviral drugs, but a person cannot be cured of the virus.


  1. HIV

HIV is a virus you definitely want to avoid at all costs — it’s the virus that causes AIDS. People can transmit it through bodily fluids including blood, vaginal fluids, semen, and breast milk. You can contract HIV by having sex with or sharing a needle with a person that has it, but not from kissing them.

You can go years being HIV positive without knowing. That’s why it’s important to get tested if you are unsure about the status of your current or previous partners.

The way to treat HIV is with a combination of drugs and antiretroviral therapy. When a person discovers that they are HIV positive, the goal is to reduce the likelihood that the infection will progress to AIDS.

How to Protect Yourself From STDs

You can protect yourself and your partner/s from STDs using the following methods:


Always practice safe sex, especially with new partners or if you have more than one partner. If you have never been tested for STDs, it’s time to talk to your doctor about screening.

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