Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Overview (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, venereal diseases) are among the most
common infectious diseases in the United States today. STDs are sometimes
referred to as sexually transmitted infections, since these conditions involve
the transmission of an infectious organism between sex partners. More than 20
different STDs have been identified, and about 19 million men and women are
infected each year in the United States, according to the CDC (2010).
on the disease, the infection can be spread through any type of sexual activity
involving the sex organs, the anus, or the mouth; an infection can also be spread
through contact with blood during sexual activity. STDs are infrequently
transmitted by any other type of contact (blood, body fluids or tissue removed
from an STD infected person and placed in contact with an uninfected person);
however, people that share unsterilized needles markedly increase the chance to
pass many diseases, including STD's (especially hepatitis B), to others. Some
diseases are not considered to be officially an STD (for example, hepatitis
C, E) but are infrequently noted to be transferred during sexual
activity. Consequently, some authors include them as STD's, others do not.
Consequently, lists of STD's can vary, depending on whether the STD is usually
transmitted by sexual contact or only infrequently transmitted.
- STDs affect men and women of all ages and backgrounds, including children.
Many states require that Child Protective Services be notified if children are
diagnosed with an STD.
- STDs have become more common in recent years, partly because people are
becoming sexually active at a younger age, are having multiple partners, and do
not use preventive methods to lessen their chance of acquiring an STD. Seniors show a marked increase in STDs in the last few years as many do not use condoms.
- People can pass STDs to sexual partners even if they themselves do not have
- Frequently, STDs can be present but cause no symptoms, especially in women
(for example, chlamydia,
genital herpes or
gonorrhea). This can also occur in
- Health problems and long-term consequences from STDs tend to be more severe
for women than for men. Some STDs can cause pelvic infections such as pelvic
inflammatory disease (PID), which may cause a tubo-ovarian abscess. The
in turn, may lead to scarring of the reproductive organs, which can result in an
ectopic pregnancy (a
pregnancy outside the uterus),
infertility or even death
for a woman.
- Human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection), an STD, is a known cause of
cancer of the cervix.
- Many STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby before, during, or
immediately after birth.
- Because the method of becoming infected is similar with all STDs, a person
often obtains more than one pathogenic organism at a time. For example, many
people (about 50%) are infected at a single sexual contact with both gonorrhea
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2013
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