Sexually Transmitted Diseases

What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that are mainly passed from one person to another (that is transmitted) during sex. There are at least 25 different sexually transmitted diseases with a range of different symptoms. These diseases may be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Most sexually transmitted diseases will only affect you if you have sexual contact with someone who has an STD. However there are some infections, for example scabies, which are referred to as STDs because they are most commonly transmitted sexually, but which can also be passed on in other ways.

What are sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is another name for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). The name STI is sometimes preferred because there are a few STDs, such as chlamydia, that can infect a person without causing any actual disease (i.e. unpleasant symptoms). Someone without symptoms may not think of themselves as having a disease, but they may still have an infection that needs treating.

How can you tell if you have a sexually transmitted disease?

You may become aware that you have an STD because of symptoms, or it may be that a sexual partner tells you they have an STD which they might have passed on to you. Some sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted by an infected person even if they don't have any symptoms.

If you think you might have been exposed to an STD then you should go to see a doctor. Many sexually transmitted diseases can be easily cured, but if left untreated, they may cause unpleasant symptoms and could lead to long-term damage such as infertility. Some STDs can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. It is important that anyone diagnosed with an STD informs everyone they have had sex with within the past year (or everyone following the partner they believe may have infected them).

What are common STD symptoms?

STD symptoms vary, but the most common are soreness, unusual lumps or sores, itching, pain when urinating, and/or an unusual discharge from the genitals.

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