Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Understanding STD

Any type of sexual contact that has an infection that can be passed from one person to another is termed as a sexually transmitted disease. It is important to note that sexual contact would not only mean sexual intercourse through the anus or the vagina. It also covers the sharing of sex toys, kissing, and genital-oral contact. STDs are not modern diseases but has been around for years. It was only in 1984 that HIV/AIDS was recognized.

Most STDs are curable but some are not treatable at all such as the viral infections of hepatitis B and C, HPV, and the dreaded HIV. Gonorrhea, used to be a highly treatable STD, has evolved some strains that have become resistant to older created antibiotics. This is the reason why awareness and knowledge about STDS can be the best prevention against the infection.

What Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)?

STDs/STIs are sexually transmitted diseases/infections are otherwise known as venereal diseases which are transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse that include genital contact. The spread of these infections is through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. There is a range of various symptoms involved in 25 different STDs/STIs.

STD or sexually transmitted disease has another name which is STI or sexually transmitted infection. STI is now the preferred term used because some STDs can infect but not cause any disease. Take the case of Chlamydia. One can get infected with Chlamydia yet do not show any signs and symptoms associated with the disease. When there is the absence of symptoms, people believe that they do not have a disease even when there is the presence of an infection that needs to be treated.

Sometimes the only way you will be able to know you have an STD would be the manifestation of symptoms or your sexual partner tells you that you are infected because he or she has been diagnosed with STD. The absence of symptoms still makes an infected person infectious. Some STDs can be passed by an infected mother to her unborn child.

If you suspect that you may have been exposed to an STD, you should see a doctor. Most STDs are curable, but it can also bring serious medical conditions if left untreated.

Here are some of the most common genital diseases and STDs:


Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that is bacterial in nature and one of the most reported. It infects the cervix in women, and the eyes, urethra, and rectum of both sexes. An infected person can pass the infection through sexual intercourse and genital contact. Infertility problems will be one of the serious health conditions if left untreated for a long time.

Genital warts

Some sub-types of HPV or human papilloma virus cause genital warts. They appear in the genital area looking like lumps shaped like a cauliflower which could be fleshy and large or small bumps colored flesh or white. They are hard to spot as they are painless. Having a wart on the cervix may make a woman experience colored discharges from the vagina or may have some slight bleeding.


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is popularly called in slang language as ‘the clap’. It can infect the throat, urethra, anus, cervix, and rectum. It may not have any symptoms but if it does, it appears between 1 to 14 days after infection and may include:

  • If the rectum is infected there will be discharges or irritation from the anus
  • Painful urination
  • Changes in the discharges from the vagina
  • A yellow or white discharge from the penis


Inflammation of the liver due to viral infections is called hepatitis. There are several kinds of hepatitis virus that have been named after the alphabet, from A to G. The most common types are A, B, and C. Prolonged and excessive use of alcohol or usage of certain drugs and medications can lead to hepatitis but the common infection comes from a virus.

There are more varieties of STDs and learning more about them could make you see ways and means to prevent acquiring them. Prevention is still the best choice against a cure.

Common Symptoms of Herpes

HSV-1 or herpes simplex type 1 is the most common type of infection which one can get as a child or an infant. An infected adult can spread the virus by skin-to-skin contact. Sores do not have to be present in an adult to transmit the virus. Sharing a towel, a kiss or eating using the same utensil from an infected adult can pass the infection to a child.

Sexual contact is the way a person gets infected with herpes simplex type 2 or HSV-2. In the United States, about 20% of sexually active people are carriers of HSV-2. There are certain characteristics in people that make them likely candidates for HSV-2 infection:

  • Immune system is weak due to medications or another health condition
  • Female
  • Had or have another sexually transmitted disease
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Started sexual relations at a young age

Close contact with an infected person can spread the herpes simplex virus. Touching a herpes sore can also infect you with the herpes simplex virus. Yet, most people get infected from a person infected with herpes simplex even when he or she does not have sores. This type of infection is called ‘asymptomatic viral shedding’.

A Herpes simplex type 1 or HSV-1 infected person can pass the infection to you through:

  • Sharing objects such as a razor, eating utensils or lip balm
  • Kissing
  • Touching the skin such as a pinch

Genital herpes can be passed when there is contact with HSV-1 or HSV-2. The HSV-2 infected person can pass the infection during sex. If a person has a cold sore and engages in oral sex, this can transmit HSV-1 to the genital area which could cause the genitals to develop herpes sores.

An infected mother can easily pass the herpes virus to her newborn during birth. The baby will have serious health problems when born to a mother who has experienced genital herpes for the first time.

The virus will never leave the body of a person once he or she becomes infected. The virus transfers from the skin cells to the nerve cells after the first outbreak episode. Once the virus has entered the nerve cells, it will stay there in the entire lifetime of the infected person. However, it will only be sleeping or lie dormant till a situation could trigger a reaction to activate it.

Here are some of the things that can activate the virus:

  • Surgery
  • Stress
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Illness
  • Menstrual periods
  • Fever

The worst outbreak for herpes simplex is the primary or initial stage after infection. Yet, some infected people may only have mild symptoms that are barely noticeable. However, if the first outbreak gave mild symptoms, the next recurrence may often be severe which could be mistaken as the first outbreak by infected people.

The first year of infection may have several recurrences after the first outbreak. After a time, the outbreaks decrease in frequency and show milder symptoms. The reason for this is the antibodies that the immune system has made to fight the virus.

Herpes: What Causes Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is caused by the HSV or the herpes simplex virus and is one of the most common viral infections that can infect the mouth and genitals. The virus has two types, which are type 1 or HSV-1 and type 2 or HSV-2. The lesions that both HSV types cause look alike which only a laboratory testing can distinguish.

The first time experience of an HSV infection with symptoms produces severe reactions to the body as it is the first time for the immune system to come in contact with the virus.

The initial infection of HSV can take as long as 20 days and the symptoms that are expected will include specific symptoms from the genital area such as blisters or sores, fever, and pains and aches. There are other people though, who will only experience mild symptoms after the initial infection which could mostly lead it to be undiagnosed and unrecognized.

Most people who get infected with genital herpes will not feel any symptoms. For people who have experienced a previous cold sore infection, the symptoms may be less serious while others none at all especially when they had built a resistance to HSV1.

If ever there are symptoms, it begins with pain or burning, tingling, itching accompanied by an appearance of red and painful spots which changes after a day or two to blisters filled with clear fluid that quickly turn a yellowish-white color.

The blisters will eventually burst resulting in painful ulcers which when it has become dry, will heal and form a scab after 10 days.

There are cases where new blisters form over the ulcer stage, prolonging the episode of the initial infection. But then, there will also be a non-blister stage with only appearances of skin ulcers that may look like cracks or cuts in the skin.

There are women infected with genital herpes that manifest vaginal discharges.

There are no exact signs and symptoms for every person infected with genital herpes. There are women who experience pain and burning sensation when urinating which can be helped by drinking plenty of fluids that can reduce the pain when the urine is diluted.

Close skin-to-skin contact during sex transmits herpes. People infected with herpes can be infectious even when there are no present symptoms.

Cold sores or oral herpes lesions can infect the genital area when engaged in oral sex. If one partner has a cold sore, oral sex must be avoided. Most women get genital herpes infection through oral sex.

There is a reduced chance of transmitting herpes if condoms are used between outbreaks or abstaining from sex when symptoms are present. Herpes infection will be at very low risk if a combination of using condoms at all sexual activity and daily intake of retroviral drugs are followed.

Sharing of toilet seats and towels with an infected person is not a possible way of transmitting the infection. The herpes virus cannot survive for a few seconds outside a host body. Soap and water can also kill the virus.

What is Herpes?

HSV or the herpes simplex virus is a common infection causing genital herpes. The surrounding genital area including the genitals can be covered by painful blisters when infected by HSV.

HSV is always referred as an STI or sexually transmitted infection as it is passed through sexual intercourse.

Any moist lining or mucous lining such as the mouth can be affected by HSV. The growth of cold sores in the mouth could be caused by HSV.

Getting infected with genital herpes will give you a long-term or chronic health condition. The virus lies dormant in your body which could become active anytime. For the first two years after infection, recurrence average will be around four to five times. In time, outbreaks will be less often and severe.

The herpes simplex virus has two types which are type 1 and type 2. All types are highly infectious which can be transmitted easily to other people by direct contact.

Having sexual relations through oral, vaginal or anal with an infected person will infect you with genital herpes. An infected person will always be capable of passing the infection even if he or she does not show any signs and symptoms.

Most infected people have no idea that they have acquired the infection because of the absence of initial symptoms or the few symptoms experienced. A genital herpes outbreak can happen when something triggers and activates the virus.

HSV is a common infection particularly in sexually active people ages 20-24 years old.

Genital herpes has no cure. Retroviral drugs can alleviate the symptoms, but it cannot cure the disease. Because of this, it is very important that genital herpes should be prevented from spreading by using a condom to all engaged sexual activity, and, if under treatment, to abstain from sex until the symptoms have been alleviated.

Acquiring the infection during pregnancy could give serious health complications depending on factors such as having the infection before getting pregnant, or getting it for the first time while being pregnant.

The health risk to a baby is very low if you already have genital herpes before getting pregnant. It is due to the protective antibodies that have been passed to the baby during the few months of pregnancy. These protective antibodies are proteins that can fight off an infection which could protect the baby during and after birth.

The baby is not exposed to high risk even when genital herpes episodes recurred during your entire pregnancy. However, when this is happening, antiviral medication should be taken such as acyclovir from 36 weeks of pregnancy up to the time of birth to reduce the symptoms.

If infected with genital herpes for the first time from the first trimester to 26 weeks of pregnancy, there is a high risk of losing the pregnancy. If the pregnancy goes through a full term, passing the virus to the baby is very possible.

The way to prevent passing on the virus to the baby is to take antiviral medication continuously until birth.