STDs or sexually transmitted diseases are frightening, often considered to be life-altering or incurable. While getting an STD is no picnic and should be cause for alarm, most of the prevalent STDs are curable with simple antibiotics.
STDs vs STIs
Before going into any further discussion over STD’s, let’s address the difference between STDs and STIs.
STIs are sexually transmitted infections. They have not yet advanced to become a “disease” but are at the first step of the disease process. The example would be HPV is an STI but is known to be a precursor to cervical cancer which is a disease. STDs are sexually transmitted diseases. They are the entire disease, including the infection phase.
However, these are technicalities. In general speaking terms, STI and STD are interchangeable and STI has become more popular due to less negative connotations associated with the term.
Types of STDs
There are 19 million people living with an STD. What’s more, there are 25 types of STDs. These aren’t small numbers, but many of the most common STDs are completely treatable. Below are the most common STDs that can affect you or your partner.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Types of STDs
Out of the most common STDs most of are curable but may be resistant to medications that have previously worked, such as is occurring with gonorrhea. Cases of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and HPV are in some cases, curable and some are not, or may clear with time.
- Crabs/Pubic Lice
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterial infection and is the most common bacterial STD. It is hard to detect in both men and women as it is often asymptomatic. If there are symptoms in women, they are non-specific and may not be easily attributed to chlamydia. Men’s symptoms can come in the form of urethritis or epididymitis which can be detected by pain during urination, abnormal discharge from the penis and pain in the testicles and groin. Luckily, Chlamydia is curable by antibiotics prescribed by Dr. Elist.
These organisms are minuscule, blood-sucking creatures that attach themselves to pubic hair and are given the name “crabs” due to their appearance. They can be removed with anti-lice shampoos and medications that may require more than one treatment.
This STD is caused by a bacterium that makes its home in moist warm environments such as the rectum, penis, vagina or even the eyes and mouth. If left untreated, men can develop an infection of the prostate, urethra or epididymis. Burning during urination, green or white discharge from the penis, or pain in the testicles are all symptoms of gonorrhea. Your doctor can analyze a urine test or swab the affected areas to determine if you have gonorrhea. It is treatable by antibiotics, but your partner must also be treated even if there are no signs or symptoms to make sure the conditions are fully eradicated.
This form of hepatitis can come from sexual contact but also by simply ingesting infected food or water. The symptoms can range from dark urine to joint pain, jaundice, nausea, low-grade fever, and intense itching. A blood test will be used to determine if the Hepatitis virus is present. There is no actual cure for Hepatitis A but may clear from the body on its own after a few weeks or months.
This form of hepatitis is more difficult to get than A as it is only transmitted through blood, body sores, or other bodily fluids, usually through sex or sharing needles. It is an infection of the liver that cause symptoms such as jaundice, fatigue, belly pain, and fever. Like, A, its presence is determined by a blood test and it is not curable but will often go away on its own. However, it can cause liver damage and scarring so getting vaccines for the disease is imperative.
Hepatitis C (HCV) was previously incurable but there have been breakthroughs in medical science allowing this disease to be cured. It is often a “silent” infection with no actual symptoms until the symptoms of liver damage occurs over the years and are five times more likely to affect those born between 1945 and 1965.
Human Papillomavirus is one of the most prolific STDs, affecting 80 percent of the sexually active population at some point in their lives. There are over 200 types or associated strains of HPV and 10 percent of those can result in cervical cancer. It is spread via sexual activity via the genitals or mouth. There are 40 types of HPV strains that can affect the genital area and two types that cause genital warts. These are low-risk but still uncomfortable. Some strains of HPV clear on their own and symptoms can be treated successfully.
Syphilis is an STD more prevalent among men and there are almost ten cases reported out of every 100,000 people. IT is spread only through oral, vaginal and anal contact and results in sores that may not be noticeable, and testing is vital. Syphilis is easily curable in the early stages but if it is not detected, can wreak havoc on the body with extreme physical conditions such as blindness and paralysis occurring over time if left untreated.
Trichomoniasis is a common STD affecting almost four million people, of which only 30 percent show signs or symptoms. It is an infection caused by a protozoan parasite and effect the urethra in men but is more prevalent in women. The only symptoms that may be present in men are burning in when urinating, discharge from the penis and itching or irritation inside the penis. It is easily treated with medication but one in five patients become infected again within a few months, so it is imperative that partners are tested and treated as well.
STDs that are incurable
While all STDs are a serious health problem, these following five are the most frightening as they have no known cures. However, Hepatitis A, B, and HPV all often clear on their own despite there being no medical cure.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Herpes is an infection caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus). There are two types of herpes: oral (HSV-1) and genital (HSV-2). There are some cases of genital herpes caused by HSV-1 if contracted through oral sex. Oral herpes is often contracted non-sexually as a child through saliva and can go completely unnoticed. Genital herpes is also a very common STD, affecting one in six people ages 14 to 49. It can only be contracted through sexual contact (oral, vaginal and anal sex). Your doctor can test you for the herpes virus, but you must ask for the test by name, it is not included in the usual STD blood tests. Herpes is incurable but symptoms and outbreaks can be managed by medications.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) strikes fear in all sexually active people. Previously thought to be a death sentence, many people live perfectly happy and productive lives thanks to modern treatment with medications, along with early detection. However, HIV is still met with discrimination and fear and can lead to more dire diseases and infections such as AIDS. HIV is spread through sexual contact only; the highest possibility through anal sex, next vaginal sex, and very rarely though oral sex. It is not curable but can be managed with medications, although recently some patients have been completely cured of the virus. It is extremely important to get tested often for HIV and protect yourself with the use of condoms in sexual activity.
How to protect yourself from STDs
HPV and both Hepatitis A and B have vaccines that can be gotten before the threat of infection. Currently, there are vaccines being developed for Herpes, HIV, and syphilis ll. Other ways of preventing infection include safe sex practices such as using condoms and making sure your partners have been tested. The only surefire way to prevent STDs is abstaining from sex. However, making sure to be safe with all partners, getting vaccines, and getting tested often are your best measures to being able to enjoy sexual activity without fear of acquiring an STD.