1-What are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections you can contract through sexual contact with someone who has it. Bacteria, parasites, and viruses cause STDs.There are more than 20 types of STDs. (1) The most common include Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, HPV, Hepatitis, Trichomoniasis, and Syphilis.

2- Are STDs and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) the same?

Most people also use the term STIs to refer to STDs. You may have asked yourself at least once if these two terms are the same. It can be a bit confusing, but scientifically they do not have the same meaning. When you contract a sexually transmitted bacteria or virus, or parasite, it leads to an infection. The infection can evantually progress to disease, and you will start to experience some symptoms. For example, many people have chlamydia and had no signs. At this point, chlamydia can be called an STI. However, when you start showing symptoms such as vaginal discharge, it is a disease the chlamydia can now be called STD.

3- Who can get STDs?

If you are sexually active, you are exposed to STDs. However, they are risky sexual behaviors that may increase your chance of getting an STD. Risky sexual behaviors include:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • The abuse of reactional drugs
  • The use of injectable drugs
  • History of STD

STDs are ubiquitous, especially among adolescents and young adults. According to the CDC, “there are approximately 20 million new STD infections each year—almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24”.(2)

4- How are STDs transmitted?

STDs mostly spread through vaginal, anal, oral sex, or any sexual activities like genital touching. STDs pass through infected body fluids and skin. During sexual activities, you may be exposed to body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, mucus, and blood.
Some STDs can pass from a mother to her child. You can also get infected by sharing contaminated needles for drug use, tattoo, or ear piercing.

5-Can I get STD from kissing?

Although it is rare to get STD from kissing, it is still possible. There are 3 STDs that you can get from kissing: Cytomegalovirus(CMV), Herpes, and Syphilis. CMV can be present in saliva, while you can get Herpes or Syphilis if your partner is infected and have sores in his month.

6- Can STD cause infertility?

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are the two STDs most likely to cause infertility.
When you have Gonorrhea or Chlamydia and do not receive proper treatment, the bacteria can go from the vagina to the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. It can cause an inflammation called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID can damage the fallopian tubes and making it hard for the sperm to reach the egg to fertilize it. PID can lead to severe complications, including infertility. Data shows that 10- 15 % of women with untreated Chlamydia will develop PID and one in 10 women with PID becomes infertile. (3,4)

7- What happens if I get STD during pregnancy?

An STD can lead to severe pregnancy complications for both the mother and the child. Untreated STDs can infect the baby. It also increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, congenital disabilities, and even death.
The contamination can happen in the womb or during the delivery, depending on the type of STD:

  • Syphilis, HIV, Hepatite C, and CMV can cross the placenta and infect the baby before birth. The baby can also get infected at birth.
  • Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Genital Herpes, Hepatite B, can infect the baby during vaginal delivery.

It is essential to know the complications that an STD can have on your pregnancy and your unborn baby. Every woman gets screening for many STDs at their prenatal visit. But if you are worried that you might have an STD later on in your pregnancy, you must talk to your doctor and get care as soon as possible.

8- Can I pass an STD to my baby through breastfeeding?

It depends on the type of STD.

  • Some STDs such as HIV and CMV can spread through breast milk. So it is crucial not to breastfeed if you an HIV or CMV infection.
  • Syphilis and Herpes can infect a baby through breastfeeding if only the mother has a sore on her breast. So unless you have a sore caused by Syphilis or Herpes, you can nurse your baby. Otherwise, you can use a breast pump to avoid your baby coming in contact with the sores.
  • Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV do not affect breastmilk. You can nurse your baby.

9- What are the most common STDs in Women?

Most STDs can affect both men and women. The most common STDs that affect women include Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes.
STDs are more likely to cause severe health problems for women. They can lead to severe complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus), and chronic pelvic pain. HPV is known to be the leading cause of cervical cancer.

10- Can I get many STD at the same time?

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has more than one STD, you can become infected with one or more STDs simultaneously.

11- How do I know that I have STD?

STDs’ symptoms in women include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Unusual vaginal or anal discharge
  • Rashes
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)

Many STDs have no symptoms but still have long term consequences. You can also pass it to your sexual partners even if you display no signs of the infection. Left untreated, STDs affect fertility and also increase the risk of cervical cancer. So. it is crucial to practice safe sex anytime and every time.

12- How long should I wait to get tested after unprotected sex?

If you recently have a risky sexual behavior and want to get tested, you need to know that most STDs have incubation periods. So if you get tested too early, your results might come falsely negative even if you have the infection. Here’s how long you should wait approximately after exposure to get tested and expect reliable results:

  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia: 2 weeks
  • Herpes: 4 to 6 weeks
  • Syphilis: 6 weeks
  • Hepatite B: 6 weeks
  • Hepatitis C: 6 to 9 weeks
  • HIV: 1 to 3 months

While you are waiting to get tested, avoid having unprotected sex or any sexual activity that can put your sexual partner at risk of getting infected.

References

1-Sexually Transmitted Diseases | STD | Venereal Disease …. https://medlineplus.gov/sexuallytransmitteddiseases.html
2-https://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/adolescents-youngadults.htm
3-https://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/default.htm
4-https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/gynecologic-problems/pelvic-inflammatory-disease

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About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

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