Facts about the most common STDs

Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is contracted via skin-to-skin contact. You do not have to have sex to get this type of STD. HPV is a type of virus that causes genital warts. The genital warts are usually harmless, however, they can lead to cervical cancer or anal cancer. There are vaccines available like Gardasil that can protect against some of strains of HPV that cause cancer. It is recommended that people get vaccinated early on in life. The symptoms of HPV include pink or flesh-colored warts that are raised, flat, or shaped like cauliflower. These are often the only symptoms.


Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea can be contracted rather easily. If left untreated, it can cause infertility in both men and women. With the help of antibiotics, the infection can be treated. There are usually no early symptoms, but the most common initial symptoms of gonorrhea include burning during urination and discharge. Symptoms that appear later on may include skin rashes or the infection may spread to the joints and blood. Men may experience discharge from the penis and swollen testicles. Women may experience vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, and spotting. The symptoms are usually mild. They may be mistaken for a urinary tract infection or vaginal infection.

Syphilis: It can be difficult to spot the early symptoms of syphilis. If left untreated, syphilis can cause paralysis, blindness, and death. The infection can be cured with the help of antibiotics. The initial signs and symptoms of syphilis is usually a firm, round, painless sore that is present on the genitals or anus. Syphilis is contracted through skin-to-skin contact with this sore. Symptoms that appear later on may include a rash on the soles, palms, and other body parts, swollen glands, fever, hair loss, or fatigue. In the late stages of the disease, symptoms are often a result of organ damage. Organs that can be damaged from being infected with syphilis include the heart, brain, liver, nerves, and eyes.

Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a common STD that may not cause any symptoms. However, if left untreated, it can cause infertility. With the help of antibiotics, the infection can be cured. Some people may not even know that have chlamydia because the symptoms can be so mild or not present at all. Other than the genitals, chlamydia can also infect the rectum and throat. Men may experience symptoms such as burning and itching at the tip of the penis, discharge, or painful urination. Women may experience symptoms such as vaginal itching, discharge that may have an odor, pain during sex, or painful urination.

Herpes simplex virus: There are two types of herpes – Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Both types are highly contagious. HSV-1 is usually not always considered an STD because it often spreads through other forms of contact via mucus membranes, such as kissing. When HSV-1 is contracted orally, it can still spread to the genitals. It can also be contacted via genital contact. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HSV-1. However, there are medications available that can reduce the severity of the symptoms, reduce the length of symptoms, and prevent future outbreaks. The signs and symptoms of HSV-1 include occasional cold sores or fever blisters that appear on the mouth. While more common with HSV-2, small blisters or sores may appear on the genitals.

Herpes simplex virus 2 is the most common type of herpes virus. HSV-2 causes genital herpes and is highly contagious. It is contracted through sexual intercourse with an infected person. It can also be contracted through skin-to-skin contact with a herpes sore. Like HSV-1, there is no cure for HSV-2. Antiviral drugs can help reduce the frequency of genital herpes outbreaks. They can also help clear up the symptoms faster. The symptoms of HSV-2 include fluid-filled blisters that form painful sores on the genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks. These sores can spread to the mouth through oral contact.