Protect Yourself: Facts on common STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
By the Skinful Staff
Well I know that all of you want to become experts at sex but there is one big thing that we must become aware of as we move forward to making you guys official sexperts. Realize that these days, both men and women have to watch themselves when they meet with other people. Men and women not only have to be afraid of unwanted pregnancies, but they also have to be aware of STD’s and other diseases that can affect their relationship and sexuality. Dating, single, or on the prowl for new partners, STD’s are a fact of life and the only way to be safe is to refrain from having sex.
The problem is that you think that you are not at risk. You think that there is no way that you are going to catch anything. Well realize this:
- There are over 15 million new STD cases each year in the United States alone. Twenty-five percent of these are among teens. (1)
- Of the top 11 reportable diseases in the United States in 1996, five are transmitted sexually (chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B). (2)
- Approximately 66% of people who acquire STDs in the United States are younger than 25. (1,3 )
- In the United States in 1994, approximately $10 billion was spent on major STDs (other than HIV/AIDS) and their preventable complications. This figure rises to approximately $17 billion if sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are included. (3)
- Worldwide, an estimated 333 million new cases of four curable STDs (gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, syphilis and trichomoniasis) occurred in 1997. (4)
Transmission of STDs occur through many ways of sexual contact. The main methods of transmission are vaginal intercourse and anal sex. Here is the thing that most men do not realize: STDs are spread through oral sex too. Furthermore, you can catch some STDs with just contact of the genitals or even through foreplay. Outlined below are the most common STDs and their transmission.
Name: Chlamydia Trachomatis
What it is: Chlamydia is a STD caused by bacteria that is passed during oral, vaginal, or anal sex and is one of the most widespread diseases in the United States.
Symptoms: Chlamydia does not have symptoms in some cases which is why it is such an epidemic. When you do notice symptoms, discharges (mucus or puss) from the penis or vagina may occur.
Transmission: Oral or Vaginal Sex
- Worldwide, an estimated 89 million new chlamydial infections occurred in 1997.4 - As many as 85 percent of women with chlamydial infections are asymptomatic; 40 percent of infected men report no symptoms. (3) More than 4 million people are infected in the US every year and over 2 billion dollars are spent on prevention. If not adequately treated, 20 to 40 percent of women with genital chlamydial infections develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which in turn causes problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. (3)
What it Is: Gonorrhea is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria. Spread during sexual intercourse, infection of the genital tract, the mouth, and the rectum can occur. Furthermore, women can pass the bacteria to newborns during birth.
- Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
- Painful or burning sensations when urinating
- Vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody
More advanced symptoms, which may indicate development of PID, include cramps and pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting, or fever.
- Pus from the penis and pain
- Burning sensations during urination that may be severe
Transmission: Contact with genitals, anus, or mouth
Approximately 50 percent of N. gonorrhoea infections in women are asymptomatic. (3) Worldwide, an estimated 62 million new cases of gonorrhea occurred in 1997. (4)
If not adequately treated, 10 to 40 percent of women infected with gonorrhea develop PID. (3)
Name: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Transmission: Oral, Vaginal, or Anal Sex
What it Is: PID is an inflammatory infection of the genital tract. It is a common and serious complication that can affect the female’s uterus, fallopian tubes, and other internal structures.
Symptoms: Lower abdomen pain and vaginal discharge. Pain during intercourse, fever, and irregular bleeding during their period may occur.
- At least 1 million cases of PID, an important complication of both gonorrhea and chlamydial infection, occur annually in the United States. (3)
- Of all infertile women, at least 15 percent are infertile because of tubal damage caused by PID. (3) Following PID, scarring will cause approximately 20 percent of women to become infertile, 18 percent to develop chronic pelvic pain, and 9 percent to have ectopic pregnancies. (9)
Name: Genital Herpes
What it Is: STD caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
Symptoms: Symptoms include itching in the genital or anal area, pain the genital or anal area, feeling of pressure in the abdomen, or discharge of fluid in females.
Transmission: Physical Contact with Mouth (Simplex 1) or Genitals (Simplex 2)
The Numbers: About one in five people in the United States over age 12 – approximately 45 million individuals – are infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. (10)
Up to 1 million new HSV-2 infections may be transmitted each year in the United States. (1)
Name: Hepatitis B
What it Is: A viral disease that can damage liver cells causing it to become swollen and tender.
Symptoms: Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice though symptoms may not appear in some people.
Transmission: Saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions
The Numbers: An estimated 77,000 cases of sexually transmitted hepatitis B infection occur annually in the United States.1 Approximately 750,000 people in the United States are living with sexually acquired hepatitis B infection. (1)
Name: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
What it Is: Viral infection that can cause genital warts.
Symptoms: Although people may not have any signs of HPV, genital warts are the tell tale sign.
Transmission: Genital contact with and infected person
The numbers: An estimated 20 million people in the United states are infected with HPV, and as many as 5.5 million new infections occur each year. (1) An estimated 13,700 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 1998. (12) Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women. More than 425,000 new cases and 195,000 deaths occurred in 1997. (4)
What it Is: A STD caused by bacteria spread during intercourse.
Symptoms: Initial infection causes and ulcer at the location where infected.
Transmission: Oral, Vaginal, or Anal Sex
The Numbers: An estimated 70,000 sexually transmitted infections with Treponema pallidum, the cause of syphilis, occur each year in the United States. (1) Globally, an estimated 12 million new cases of sexually acquired syphilis occurred in 1997. (4)
What it Is: A parasitic infection caused by contact with an infected partner.
Symptoms: In males, irritation and discomfort inside the penis may occur. Discharge and and burning after urination can also occur. For females, a yellow-green discharge, discomfort during urination and intercourse, and itching in the genital area are signs.
Transmission: Genital Contact though contact with a towel can transmit the parasite.
The Numbers: Globally, an estimated 170 million people acquired Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted parasite, in 1997. (4)
What it Is: AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and kills and impairs cells of the immune system
Symptoms: When infected, most people do not show any signs of aquiring the virus. A month or so in, a flu-like virus may occur along with a fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, as well as headaches.
Transmission: Oral, Vaginal, or Anal Sex
The Numbers: As of the end of 2001, an estimated 40 million people worldwide – 37.1 million adults and 3.0 million children younger than 15 years – were living with HIV/AIDS. More than 70 percent of these people (28.5 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 14 percent (5.6 million) live in South and Southeast Asia. (13)
Approximately 50 percent of adults living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are women. (13)
In 2001, approximately 6,000 young people aged 15 to 24 became infected with HIV every day – that is, about five every minute.(13)
Worldwide, more than 80 percent of all adult HIV infections have resulted from heterosexual intercourse.(13)
Abstinence is the only way to protect yourself from catching a STD. Since this is not an option for many males, proper use of condoms is important. Furthermore, promiscuous males should try to limit their numbers to reduce their chances. Finally, getting tested is important when you find someone you want to have a relationship with. Both of you should get tested to insure that nothing gets passed.
1. American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summary of notifiable diseases in the United States, 1996. MMWR 1997;45:1-103.
3. Institute of Medicine. Committee on Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The Hidden Epidemic: Confronting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Eng TR and Butler WT, eds. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
4. World Health Organization. World Health Report 1998. Geneva: WHO, 1998.
5. UNAIDS: Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, December, 1998.
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 1997;9(no. 2):1-44.
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 1997. Atlanta: CDC, 1998.
8. Washington AE and Katz P. Cost of and payment source for pelvic inflammatory disease - trends and projections, 1983 through 2000. JAMA 1991;266(18):2565-69.
9. Westrom L, et al. Pelvic inflammatory disease and fertility. A cohort of 1,844 women with laparoscopically verified disease and 657 control women with normal laparoscopic results. Sex Transm Dis 1992;19:185-92.
10. Fleming DT, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 in the United States, 1976 to 1994. NEJM 1997;337:1105-11.
11. National Institutes of Health. Consensus Development Statement on Cervical Cancer. Bethesda, Maryland, April 1-3, 1996.
12. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures, 1998.
13. UNAIDS. Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, 2002: "The Barcelona Report".