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Any genital symptoms such as an unusual sore, discharge with odor, burning during urination, or bleeding between menstrual cycles could mean an STD infection. If a woman has any of these symptoms, she should stop having sex and consult a health care provider immediately.
As with all sexually transmitted diseases the best way to prevent infection is to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Chlamydia often displays little to no symptoms in those infected. In fact, three quarters of women infected and half of men have no symptoms. Before a woman even realizes she has it serious irreversible damage, such as infertility, could already be done. Because the cervix (opening to the uterus) of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured they are probably more susceptible to infection, they are at particularly high risk for infection if sexually active. In women, untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Most people infected with HPV do not even know because you cannot see it. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, others types cause cervical cancer. At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. Condoms cannot fully protect against HPV, therefore the only way to prevent it is to avoid all sexual activity. While there are no treatments for HPV, there are treatments for the diseases HPV can cause.
- Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Nationwide, one out of four women and one out of eight men are infected. The symptoms typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal. Transmission of genital herpes can occur even when there are no visible sores. If someone infected is pregnant it is important that she tell her healthcare provider as genital HSV can lead to a fatal infection in infants. There is currently no cure for genital herpes.
The bacterium that causes gonorrhea grows and multiplies in the moist areas of the reproductive tract, as well as the mouth, throat and eyes. In men, symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. For women the symptoms are often mild or non-existent. However some women experience a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications (pelvic inflammatory disease) from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of symptoms. Gonorrhea can also spread to the blood and joints which can be life threatening. Women that are pregnant can spread the infection to their babies which can be fatal. Gonorrhea is cured by antibiotics.
LGV (Lymphogranuloma venereum) is a sexually transmitted disease caused by three strains of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The symptoms are similar to other STDs like syphilis and genital herpes. Therefore LGV can be difficult to diagnose. Transmission of the STD occurs during sexual penetration and may also occur via skin to skin contact. LGV can be treated with three weeks of antibiotics.
Syphilis has earned the name "the great imitator." The reason being that the symptoms are often indistinguishable from the symptoms of other diseases. Syphilis is passed through direct contact with the syphilis sore. Pregnant women can also pass it to their babies. Many infected people do not have symptoms for years, the sores are often unrecognized. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease may subsequently damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. In some cases the damage may be serious enough to cause death. If recognized within the first year of infection, syphilis can be cured with one injection of penicillin. Although the disease can be cured, the damage that syphilis causes remains.
Trichomoniasis is most common in women, although it affects men as well. Most infected men do not have signs or symptoms. Some women have signs or symptoms of infection which include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. The infection also may cause discomfort during intercourse and urination, as well as irritation and itching of the female genital area. Pregnant women with the disease may have babies with low-birth weight or may give birth pre-term. Trichomoniasis can be cured with a prescription.