Questions and Answers About STDs
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The Truth About STD’s

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are especially challenging because they often do not show signs and symptoms right away. When the symptoms present themselves, it is easy to confuse the signs and symptoms with other health problems.

People who are infected with an STD often pass it on to a partner. Open sores or irritated skin, inside or outside of the genital area only increase the risk of contracting an STD like HIV.

A condom can be an effective means of preventing transmission of disease during sexual contact as long as the integrity of the condom is preserved.

Types of STDs, Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

Before reading this section, it is important to note that the signs and symptoms mentioned below are not always warning signs of an STD. They can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to see a physician if you have concerns about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a proper diagnosis.

Gonorrhea, a.k.a. "the clap," is the second most common STD in the U.S. This STD, caused by a bacteria, can infect parts of the body that include the genitals, rectum, brain, throat, eyes and heart.

Gonorrhea symptoms include pain during urination and a cloudy discharge that may be pus-like. Women may experience a burning sensation when urinating or a cloudy discharge from the vagina. Frequently both men and women display no symptoms at all.

Gonorrhea usually responds well to antibiotic treatment. The disease can recur.

Syphilis is an extremely contagious disease caused by bacteria. There are three stages to the disease that are progressively more serious. Unless syphilis is treated all three stages may be reached.

The first stage involves small painless sores and ulcers around the genital area. In men, these "chancres" are usually found on the penis and are fairly easy to spot. In women the sores may develop undetected within the vagina, making detection extremely difficult.

In the second stage the bacteria in the blood stream may cause more serious rashes around the genitals or in the mouth. Headache, fever and a general feeling of illness are often symptoms of this stage.

The third stage, a.k.a. "the late stage," may not show up for several years. When it does it is very serious. This stage may damage the brain, heart and result in paralysis, senility or insanity.

The first and second stages of syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. The last stage cannot be cured.

Chlamydia is caused by microorganisms. This STD is often the cause of nonspecific urethritis the most common STD. Men usually experience painful urination, testicle swelling and a discharge from the penis. Women often have no visible symptoms although a burning sensation during urination and vaginal discharge can occur.

These infections respond well to antibiotic treatment and are usually readily cured. They do not usually recur after treatment. If left untreated the disease can cause infertility.

Genital Herpes is a lifelong infection that can recur over and over again. Caused by a virus known as Herpes Simplex II, this extremely contagious disease spreads primarily through genital fluids. If a mother-to-be has an active virus during pregnancy, the baby can be at risk

Signs and symptoms of the virus include an itching, burning sensation and blisters that appear in the genital area or on other parts of the body within a week of sexual contact. When the blisters burst they become painful sores. The sores take 10 to 21 days to heal.

After the initial outbreak, the virus hides inside the body’s nerves and recurs intermittently in a milder form.

There is no cure for genital herpes, but medications help to alleviate discomfort and promote quicker healing. They also can help prevent a secondary bacterial infection.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), first reported in the early 1980s, has infected up to 1.4 million Americans.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes the disease. The virus travels through the body destroying the body’s natural immune systems. It leaves the person infected open to a number of illnesses which normally could be treated. However, since the virus has damaged the immune system, the infected individual is unable to fight these diseases.

HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, contaminated blood and the use of non-sterile needles.

There is no cure for AIDS, however a new generation of medication can slow down or even manage the progression of the virus.