In an age where personal health is increasingly intertwined with societal well-being, understanding and addressing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is paramount. With startling statistics emerging about the prevalence of STDs among the youth and the general population, there’s a pressing need to spotlight this issue. As we delve deeper into the most common STDs of recent times, we’ll explore their symptoms, the importance of early detection, and the advancements in treatment. This article aims to shed light on the STDs that have become a focal point of concern, equipping readers with the knowledge to navigate their health journey with confidence and care.
Why Early Testing For STDs Is Crucial
By high school, it is estimated that about 41% of students have had sexual intercourse already. Furthermore, approximately 28% of young males and 16% of young females have participated in sexual activities with a person that they have only met recently. At the same time, it has been estimated that over one million people are infected with a new STD every day, with more than 357 million STDs being diagnosed every year. Every year, almost one million pregnant women fall victim to an STD, which leads to a considerable number of babies born with adverse birth defects, which sometimes result in stillbirth.
Read Also: Common STDs That Can Cause Male Sterility
For those who are sexually active, it is crucial to understand that testing for commonly acquired STDs has become much easier, faster, and more confidential than before. Understanding the most common types of STDs that people are acquiring can help the general population know which diseases they may be at a higher risk of contracting, and what types of tests they should perform to identify any STDs.
In this post, we will consider some of the most important STDs that people should know about. We will consider the symptoms of each, as well as provide details on how these conditions are diagnosed and treated.
Common STDs To Get Tested For
Some STDs are far more common than others – and people who are sexually active are advised to ensure they are frequently tested for these common STDs. While some of them are not curable, effective treatments have been developed to assist in managing the symptoms and reducing the severity of the complications caused by the particular STD.
According to the latest reports by the World Health Organization, the four most common STDs that people are currently acquiring include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Below, we will consider each of these conditions, including their symptoms, how they are tested for, and what treatment options are currently available for people who have contracted the STD.
Gonorrhea is considered one of the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infections in the United States, as well as in many other countries throughout the world. The condition is caused by the transmission of a bacterium species known as the gonococcus or the Neiserria gonorrhoeae2.
Once infected, there are various symptoms that may occur, including discharge with a yellowish color from the penis. In women, a discharge may occur from the vagina. A burning sensation during urination may also be experienced by both men and women infected with the bacteria.
A laboratory test is required to confirm a person has been infected with the bacteria that causes Gonorrhoea. The bacteria is spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sexual intercourse.
Treatment usually includes a single dose of antibiotics, which can be provided to the infected person through a pill or an injection. Untreated, Gonorrhoea can cause a number of complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease in women.
Chlamydia is also a very common STD and, fortunately, it is a curable one. This is another bacterial infection that is caused by the transmission of a bacterium species known as Chlamydia trachomatis3. The STD can affect both women and men. In men, the condition can affect their urethra, their throat, and their rectum. In women, Chlamydia may affect their cervix, throat, and rectum.
Chlamydia is spread through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sexual intercourse. The condition is much more prevalent among younger individuals but can affect anyone who has sex with an infected partner.
In many patients, Chlamydia will not cause any noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do become present, it often leads to discharge from the vagina or penis. The infected person may also find that they experience a burning sensation when they urinate. In men, the area around the head of their penis may also itch or burn.
Laboratory tests are needed to confirm a Chlamydia infection. Treatment may include the use of a single-dose antibiotic or taking antibiotics over a period of seven days.
Trichomoniasis is considered to be amongst the most common sexually transmitted infections that are curable in the United States. This infection is contracted through sexual intercourse, be it oral, anal, or vaginal sex. The bacteria that causes the infection is known as Trichomonas vaginalis4.
Most men who contract Trichomoniasis will remain asymptomatic and may carry the infection from one sexual partner to another. In women, the contraction of this infection often leads to symptoms associated with vaginitis.
If symptoms do appear in men, they may experience a discharge from the opening of their penis. They may also experience a burning sensation when they ejaculate or urinate. Some men also complain about irritation inside of their penis. Women may also have discomfort while they are urinating.
The diagnosis of Trichomoniasis can only be made through laboratory tests. Treatment includes the use of tinidazole or metronidazole, both of which are orally administered to the patient.
Syphilis is an STD that easily transmits from an infected person to a person not infected with the disease through sexual contact. The disease is classified into multiple stages, including:
- Primary syphilis
- Secondary syphilis
- Latent syphilis
- Tertiary syphilis
Each stage has its own symptoms that a patient should be aware of. A person with the infection will usually develop sores, which will usually appear to be round and firm, and often painless. Rashes, fever, and swollen lymph nodes may also develop.
Blood tests are needed to diagnose syphilis. Treatment is a curable infection that is treated with antibiotics. Failure to treat the condition can lead to serious complications and also affect the unborn baby of a pregnant woman.
The rising prevalence of STDs in recent years underscores a pressing concern that cannot be overlooked. For anyone who is sexually active, regular testing isn’t just a recommendation—it’s a necessity. As we benefit from the strides made in medical research, we’re equipped with better treatments and interventions than ever before. Yet, the true power of these advancements is realized only when infections are detected early. Beyond just personal health, this is about the collective well-being of our community. It’s a shared responsibility to stay informed, undergo routine testing, and seek treatment when necessary. By taking these steps, we not only safeguard our own health but also contribute to a safer environment for our partners and future generations.
Virginia Department of Health. (n.d.). Gonorrhea. Retrieved October 27, 2023, from http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/gonorrhea/
MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Chlamydia infections. Retrieved October 27, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/chlamydiainfections.html
Schumann, J. A., & Plasner, S. (2023). Trichomoniasis. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved October 27, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534826/
World Health Organization. (2023, July 10). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Retrieved October 27, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)