Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), is a broad term that refers to more than 50 diseases and syndromes, which may be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluid, and blood. Although this is the primary way of transmission, some STDs are spread through direct contact with the infected area, such as Herpes and HPV. STDs can be serious and painful, and may have permanent long-term health consequences, especially in women. Some consequences women experience include sterility, chronic infection, scarring of the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy, cancer, and even death. The biggest problem with STDs, is that those who are infected may be asymptotic until they are in the advanced stages of the disease. STDs affect one in four sexually active Americans at some time, and nearly 65% of all of those infected with STDs occur in people under the age of 25. Some of the most common STDs occurring on college campuses include: Crabs, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, and HPV (Genital Warts).

Frequently Asked Questions
How can I avoid STDs?
The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs and other infections spread through sexual contact, is to not have sex at all! If however you are sexually active, use a male or female condom and spermicidal foam or jelly that contains infection-suppressing properties. NOTE: Female condoms are not as effective as male condoms against infection, but they are better than having unprotected sex.
What should I be watching for?
Unfortunately STDs may cause no symptoms at all, until they are in a more advanced state. You can even be infected and unknowingly transmit a disease if you have unprotected sexual contact. However, there are some common signs that women can watch for that may indicate that they have been exposed to an STD. These symptoms may be present anytime from two days to several months, and even several years, after the initial exposure to the disease.
  • Unusual discharge or odor from the vagina
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Burning or itching around the vagina
  • Unusual bleeding (other than the menstrual cycle)
  • Vaginal pain during intercourse
  • Sores, bumps, or other blisters near the mouth or genitals
  • Swelling in the groin area
  • Persistant swelling or redness in the throat
  • Painful urination in men
  • Discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Itching in the pubic hair
Although these symptoms do not definitely mean you have been exposed to an STD, they are abnormal conditions that should be investigated by your health care provider immediately.
What if I think I have been exposed?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, or think that you might have been exposed to an STD at some point, see your health care provider immediately. Waiting for the symptoms to disappear on their own, only increases the risk of spreading it to your partner(s) and/or worsening your own condition. It is possible to have more than one STD at the same time, so don't feel embarrassed if your health care provider suggests testing you for multiple STDs. One STD can easily mask another one, and that may in turn be more detrimental to your health. If your health care provider is unaware of your sexual practices, it is also important at this time to disclose this information. Your sexual practices are important to your health care provider, in order to appropriately examine and test you. It is also important at this time to notify your sexual partner(s) of your condition, so they too can seek medical treatment.
What is involved in an STD examination?
STDs are diagnosed in various ways, depending on which STD is being tested for. Some STDs are diagnosed by physical examination, while others require blood tests, or the area is swabbed for a culture. If you feel you might have been exposed to an STD (even if you do not experience any of the characteristic symptoms) call your health care provider promptly! Your health care provider will set up an appointment with you for an examination, and will provide you with further information regarding testing procedures.
Can you cure an STD?
Some STDs are actually curable; however, prompt diagnosis and treatment are imperative! STDs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be treated aggressively with antibiotics. Viral STDs on the other hand like HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, and genital warts are still incurable and only their symptoms can be alleviated. No STD is harmless, even the curable ones can cause serious consequences if left untreated.
What do I really need to know about STDs?
  • The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs is to abstain from all forms of sex
  • Properly protected sexual practices can immensely reduce the risk of transmitting infections (i.e. condoms)
  • Early diagnosis and treatment if you think you may have been exposed to an STD is of the utmost importance
  • Remember NO STD is harmless, even the curable ones can cause serious consequences if left untreated
Additional Information