What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. These infections are usually passed from person to person through vaginal intercourse. They can also be passed through anal sex, oral sex, or skin-to-skin contact. These infections can be bacterial, viral or parasitic.
Different types of STDs
There are 3 different types of STDs: bacterial, viral, and parasitic.
Bacterial STDs can generally be cured with antibiotics. However, if left untreated they can lead to further complications. Common bacterial STDs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis.
Viral STDs cannot be cured, although many can be treated with medication. Some viral STDs, such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), can disappear on their own. Common viral STDs include HIV, genital herpes, HPV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. There is a vaccine available to prevent both HPV and Hepatitis B.
Parasitic STDs can be cured with medications and creams. Common examples include scabies and pubic lice.
What are the consequences if STIs are left untreated?
While many STDs can be cured or treated with medication, the consequences of untreated STDs can include: infertility, pregnancy complications, cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, birth defects and a 3- to 5-fold increased risk of HIV transmission.
The only 100% effective way to prevent the transmission of STDs is abstinence. For sexually active persons, correct and consistent use of male latex condoms is highly effective in preventing many STDs.
This is why it's important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have STIs.