Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs; synonymous with sexually transmitted infections [STIs]) are infections that are spread through sexual contact with an infected person. They can affect anyone who is sexually active, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. Common STDs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, and they can have a wide range of symptoms, from mild irritation to serious health complications.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The symptoms of genital herpes in women can vary, but they often include small, painful blisters or sores that appear on or around the genitals, anus, or thighs. Other symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. The virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active herpes outbreak, even if they do not have any visible sores. It can also be spread through oral sex if the partner has oral herpes. Genital herpes is different from the non-STD type of herpes that some people get on their mouths, which is typically caused by the HSV-1 strain of the virus. However, both strains of the virus can cause sores in either location, and it is possible for either strain to be transmitted through oral or genital contact. (CDC, 2021)
Testing is available for genital herpes, and it typically involves a swab or blood test to detect the presence of the virus. Although there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. It is also important to practice safe sex and communicate openly with sexual partners about any history of herpes infection. (Mayo Clinic, 2021)
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection can be asymptomatic, but if symptoms do occur, they can include abnormal discharge or bleeding, painful urination, lower abdominal pain, and pain during sexual intercourse in both men and women. In some cases, chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis or pneumonia. Chlamydia can be easily spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia,” and it is most common among young people ages 15-24. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications and further spread of the infection.
Getting tested for chlamydia is a simple and straightforward process. The most common method of testing for chlamydia is through a urine sample or a swab from the genitals, rectum, or throat. These samples are then sent to a laboratory for testing. In some cases, a physical exam may be necessary to check for symptoms or signs of infection. Testing for chlamydia is recommended for anyone who is sexually active, especially those who have multiple partners, use condoms inconsistently, or have had unprotected sex with a new partner. Testing is also recommended for pregnant women, as untreated chlamydia can lead to complications such as premature delivery or low birth weight. Results are usually available within a few days, and if the test is positive, treatment with antibiotics is necessary to clear the infection. It’s important to note that even if you do not have symptoms, you can still be infected and pass the infection to others – so just because you don’t have any symptoms doesn’t mean you’re “clean.”
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In many cases, people with gonorrhea do not experience any symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they can include painful urination, increased vaginal discharge, and abnormal vaginal bleeding in women. In men, symptoms may include discharge from the penis, pain or swelling in the testicles, and painful bowel movements. Gonorrhea can also infect the throat or rectum, causing soreness or discharge in these areas. The infection can be spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea,” and it is most common among young people ages 15-24. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications and further spread of the infection. (CDC, 2021)
Getting tested for gonorrhea typically involves providing a urine sample or having a swab taken from the genital area, rectum, or throat. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis to determine whether the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae is present. Testing is recommended for anyone who has had unprotected sex with a new partner or who has symptoms of gonorrhea. In some cases, healthcare providers may also recommend testing for other sexually transmitted infections, as multiple infections can occur simultaneously. Testing for gonorrhea is important, as the infection can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Treatment for gonorrhea typically involves a course of antibiotics, and partners may also need to be treated to prevent reinfection. It is important to follow up with healthcare providers after treatment to ensure that the infection has been fully cured.
Protect Yourself from Common STD’s
While these are just a few of the common STD types that women experience, it’s important to be aware of all STD symptoms in women and empower yourself with accurate information to ensure you receive proper healthcare. If you have additional questions or need guidance in finding the appropriate resources for you, contact our team! You are not alone.