STDs (short for sexually transmitted diseases) are infections spread through sexual contact. Many different STDs exist, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends practicing safe sex. This means using condoms during each and every sexual encounter.
The most common STD in the nation is HPV (human papillomavirus). In fact, it’s so common that the CDC says that most sexually active people will contract it at some point in their lives. More than 40 different types of HPV exist. Some cause genital warts, while others cause cervical cancer.
Another common STD is bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV usually shows no symptoms, but can be characterized by pain, odor, itching and burning. Treated with antibiotics, BV is caused by an imbalance of vaginal bacteria.
Chlamydia is another curable STD. However, if left untreated, chlamydia can seriously damage a woman’s reproductive organs. Similarly, gonorrhea can also impact female fertility. This is another disease that often times has no symptoms. In addition, more and more forms of gonorrhea are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Men who have the infection typically experience burning with urination or abnormal discharge from the penis.
For obvious reasons, HIV represents the most dangerous STD. According to the CDC, people who are already infected with another STD are two to five times more likely to contract HIV. If HIV isn’t managed, it will eventually progress into AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medical breakthroughs are allowing people to live with the condition for longer than ever before.
Herpes is another STD that has no cure. It is characterized by painful blisters/sores in the genital area. Medications can shorten the duration of an outbreak, but cannot eliminate the virus. As is the case for any STD, prevention and getting tested regularly is the best defense.