Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
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Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

STDs or sexually transmitted disease is a term given to the infections that are passed from one person to another person through sexual contacts. These are also known as sexually transmitted infections or venereal diseases.

Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that are causative agents of STDs may spread from person to person via blood, semen, vaginal, or other body fluids. The genital region is generally moist and possesses a warm environment, ideal for the growth of disease causing pathogens. Individuals can pass STDs more quickly when they are not using contraceptive devices during intercourse.

At times, sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted non-sexually, such as from a mother to the foetus during pregnancy or through blood transfusions or unsterilized needles.

Some infections can be transmitted through sexual contact but are not categorized as STDs. Meningitis is an example that can be passed on during sexual contact, but many people can acquire this disease by other means. Therefore it is not classed as an STD.

Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs)

Sexually transmitted diseases or infections can have a diversity of signs and symptoms. STDs sometimes can be asymptomatic also. That is why they may go unnoticed until they worsen or a partner is diagnosed with STD.

Symptoms of STDs in Males:

  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Sores, bumps, or rashes on or around genital areas, buttocks or thighs

  • Painful or swollen testicles

  • Unusual discharge or bleeding from the penis

Symptoms of STDs in Females:

  • Pain or discomfort during sex or urination
  • Sores, bumps, or rashes around the genital area, buttocks or thighs
  • Unusual discharge or bleeding from the vagina
  • Swelling or itchiness in or around the vagina
  • Lower abdominal pain

Causes of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be caused by microscopic organisms:

  • Bacteria – gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia
  • Parasites – trichomoniasis
  • Viruses – human papillomavirus, genital herpes, HIV

Sexual activity plays a role in spreading various other kinds of infections, although it is also possible to be infected without having sexual contact. Examples include hepatitis A, B and C, and Giardia intestinalis.

Most Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases


It is an STD caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacteria only infects humans. Chlamydia is known as the most common infectious cause of genital and eye diseases globally. It is also one of the most common bacterial STD.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that can be passed from one person to another through the skin, mucous membrane, or sexual contact. There are various strains of the virus. A most common symptom of HPV is warts on the genitals, mouth, or throat. HPV infection can lead to abnormal growth of cells, alteration within the cervix, significantly increasing the risk of cervical cancer and genital warts. Some strains of HPV can lead to oral, vulvar, penile, and rectal cancer also.


Human immunodeficiency virus affects the immune system and makes the body prone to bacterial and viral attacks. If the virus is left untreated, it can lead to further complications and deteriorate the condition. The virus can be found in semen, blood, breast milk, and vaginal and rectal fluids. Blood-to-blood contact, sexual contact, breast-feeding, childbirth, the sharing of infected needles and syringes, and blood transfusion are modes of transmission for HIV. If HIV is left untreated and reaches stage 3, known as AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), it can be fatal.


Syphilis is also a bacterial infection. The infection usually goes unnoticed in its early stages. The initial symptom may be that the lymph nodes near the groin are enlarged. Typically, another sign is a small, painless sore known as a chancre. It can develop on the genitals or anus. Though it is painless it can be very infectious.


Gonorrhea is another STD caused by bacteria. It is also known as “the clap.” Generally, it is asymptomatic in some people. Some can acquire few symptoms like discharge from the genital area, pain in urination, and while having sex, itching in the genital area, etc.

Other STDs are

  • Herpes
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Scabies
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Chancroid

Risk Factors

Anyone who is sexually active may possess some risks of exposure to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Factors that may increase that risk includes:

  1. Unprotected Sex – Vaginal or anal penetration by an infected partner who is not using a contraceptive device, such as a latex condom, notably increases the risk of developing an STI. Improper or inconsistent use of condoms can also increase the risk of developing STDs.

  2. Sexual Contact With Multiple PartnersThe more people someone has sexual contact with, the higher is the risk.

  3. Anyone Forced to Have Sexual Intercourse or Sexual Activity – Dealing with rape or assault can be very difficult. Still, at the same time, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that the survivor can receive screening, treatment, and emotional support.

  4. Injecting Drugs – Needle sharing can spread many life-threatening infections, including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

  5. Being Young – Half of the STIs occur in young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

  6. Men With Prescriptions For Drugs to Treat Erectile Dysfunction – Men who ask their doctors for prescriptions for drugs for erectile dysfunction have higher rates of STIs.

Complications of STDs

Sometimes, people experience no symptoms in the early stages of a sexually transmitted disease. Therefore, screening for STIs is important in preventing complications.

Possible complications of STIs include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Inflammation of eye
  • Arthritis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Infertility
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers, such as HPVassociated cervical and rectal cancers

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Preventions

STDs can be avoided or reduced by taking specific preventions. Here are some steps people can take to reduce the risk of an STD:

  1. Use condoms while having intercourse− Sex using a condom is the safest way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are known as barrier contraceptives due to their role as a physical barrier to microbes.

  2. Abstinence− Restraining oneself from any sexual act is the most effective way to avoid an STD.

  3. Get yourself and your partner checked− A long-run, monogamous relationship with one person who is uninfected can reduce the risk of spreading an STD.

  4. Get vaccinations− There are vaccinations available in the health care sector that can protect an individual from eventually developing certain types of cancer that are caused by HPV and hepatitis B.

  5. Check for infections− Before having sexual intercourse with a new partner, ensure that the you or your partner have no STDs.

  6. Communicate− Before any serious sexual contact, communicate with the partner about practicing safe sex.

  7. Education− Parents, schools, and society need to teach children about the importance of safe sex, and explain how to prevent any infection.


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Data Sources:


Medical Tests and Health Checkups Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).


Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
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Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
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