What You Need To Know About STDs

Updated: Feb 16, 2022
By Musa Bala
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Sexual Transmitted Diseases popularly abbreviated as STDs are diseases transmitted through sexual contact, caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. STDs are often confused with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), however, they aren’t actually the same thing.

An infection is when bacteria, viruses, or parasites attack the body comes before a disease. And while an infection may result in zero symptoms, a disease usually always comes with clear signs. Now that you know what STDs are, here is everything to know about STDs.

What Causes STDs?

All STDs develop from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). STIs are often transmitted through sexual contact, including through bodily fluids or skin contact via vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

There’s a good chance you can get an STD if you are sexually active. That chance can be high if you:

  • Have unprotected sex
  • Don’t use condoms or use them incorrectly
  • Keep multiple sex partners

What Are The Symptoms of STDs?

STDs aren’t always asymptomatic or may only develop mild symptoms. It is possible to not know you have it, but still pass it on to others. If there are symptoms, they are not limited to but may include:

  1. Pain or discomfort during sexual activity or urination
  2. Sores or rashes in or around the mouth, vagina, penis, testicle, anus, or buttocks
  3. Unusual discharge or bleeding from the penis or vagina
  4. Abdominal pain
  5. Fever

What Are the Types Of STDs?

STDs are serious illnesses to which treatment is utmost. STDs such as HIV can’t be cured and are deadly. By learning everything to know about STDs, you’ll be able to protect yourself from the many types of STDs.

There are over 20 types of STDs, including:

  1. Chlamydia
  2. Genital herpes
  3. Gonorrhea
  5. HPV
  6. Pubic lice
  7. Pelvic inflammatory disease
  8. Syphilis
  9. Trichomoniasis

How Do You Prevent STDs?

Since all STDs develop from STIs, the best way to prevent contracting an STD will be to avoid STIs. And the most effective way to do that will be to avoid sexual contact.

However, they are other ways to make sexual contacts safer, thereby reducing the chances of getting an STI. They are:

  1. Get tested for STIs often; It is very important when you have new or multiple sex partners.
  2. Always use condoms, and make use of them properly.
  3. Talk about sexual health with your sex partner(s) and decide what is comfortable for you.

How Are STDs Treated?

As stated earlier, STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. STDs caused by bacteria or parasites can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, there is no cure for STDs caused by viruses, but the symptoms can be managed with drugs, thereby lowering the risk of spreading the infection.

Some STDs such as HPV and hepatitis B can also be prevented with the use of vaccines.

Common Myths about STDs You Should Avoid

So much misinformation gets passed around STDs. You do need to stay informed and learn what’s true and what’s not. Here is some of the most common misinformation around STDs:

1. Only “Trashy” People Get STDs

The first thing to know about STDs is that they do not discriminate. Anyone can get them, whether you are poor, rich, a professor, a religious scholar, even someone just having sex for the first time. The best way to prevent STDs is to stay away from any sexual contact.

When you decide to have sex, always use a condom.

2. STDs Have a Certain Look

STDs don’t always develop symptoms. But it is possible to carry and spread an infection even if you feel completely healthy. People with STDs might not know they have them. Even professional medical doctors can’t tell if someone has an STD by just looking, they have to carry out tests to ascertain that.

Read: This Is What You Need to Know About Rh Factor.

In addition, even when you and your partner feel healthy, you should go for a medical check-up before having sexual relations.

3. STDs Can’t Be Transmitted through Oral and Anal Sex

This is likely the most shared misinformation around STDs. The same bacteria or viruses that cause STDs can get into the body through tiny cuts in the mouth and the anus, as well as the penis and vagina. Some STDs can spread through just skin contact with an infected area such as herpes or genital warts.

4. You Can’t Get STD More Than Once

Most people think that once they’ve had an STD and treated it, there’s no chance they’ll get infected by that same STD again. This is so not true. Some STDs such as herpes and HIV are yours for life.

Some like gonorrhoea and chlamydia can be treated but you may get infected again when you have sexual relations with someone infected.

5. If You’ve Been Tested STD-Free, Your Partner Is STD-Free Too

Just as stated earlier, STDs can be asymptomatic, people might have an STD and do not know it. It is advised that when you get tested as STD-free, encourage your partner to guttered too. Or better still, get tested together. No one will want to be tested free from STD only to get it from their partner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About STDs

Q: Am I at risk of an STD?

A: If you’re or you’ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex you are at risk of being infected by an STD. Some STDs can be passed through sexual interactions and plays that do not involve intercourse. STDs affect people of all backgrounds, races, and economic levels.

Q: Shouldn’t I only get tested when I have a new sex partner?

A: No! You should get tested for STDs at least once a year. However, if you engage in high-risk sexual activities such as frequent change of sex partners, sex with multiple people, or unprotected sex, it is advised you get tested every three to six months.

Q: I have been diagnosed with an STD, what should I do?

A: Once you’ve been diagnosed with an STD, the first thing to do is not to panic, as it doesn’t help in any way. Contact your health care provider immediately for treatment. It is strongly advised that you notify your sex partner(s) so they could get tested also. This will reduce the risk of you being re-infected after successful treatment. You and all of your sex partners must avoid sex until treatment is complete and all symptoms have disappeared.

In the case of STDs caused by viruses such as HIV, genital herpes, and hepatitis which have no cure, special care and measures can help control the infection and maximize health.

Q: Can an STD lead to cancer?

A: STDs increase a person’s risk for several types of cancer. Some high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) are known to be cervical cancer in women and penile cancers in men. HPV can also cause cancers of the mouth, throat, and anus in both men and women.

Viral hepatitis B and C has have been associated with liver cancer, and untreated HIV/AIDS increases might lead to several types of rare cancers, such as lymphomas, sarcomas, and cervical cancer.

Q: Do STDs cause infertility?

A: Infertility is linked to STDs mostly when they are left untreated. Whereas gonorrhoea and chlamydia can be easily cured, however, when left untreated they could lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can cause chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus), and infertility in women. In men, they might lead to epididymitis, which causes painful urination and fever.


Symptoms of STDs can be mild or severe, either way. STDs are serious illnesses that if left untreated can develop into serious health complications. Many STDs can be treated but not all of them can be cured, although the symptoms can be managed.

After learning everything to know about STDs, it is important to note that the best way to avoid STDs is not to have sex, if you do; use a condom and get tested regularly. Early detection and treatment of STDs are an advantage in maintaining your sexual health.

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