How Are STDs Contracted & Transmitted
Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are bacterial, others are viral, and others are parasitic. Some STDs can be contracted via bodily fluids, others from skin-to-skin contact. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of how the nine most common STDs are contracted and transmitted. We recently added a more comprehensive list of STDs which contains eleven of the most common STDs and their symptoms.
Chlamydia is a common bacterial STD that affects both men and women. If not treated, it can cause women to have difficulty getting pregnant or make it impossible.
Ways Chlamydia is spread: From vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. You can get chlamydia in your eye if you have touched parts of the body that contain traces of these diseases then your eye. Mothers can pass the infection on to their babies during childbirth, which can cause eye infections, blindness or pneumonia in the baby. This STD frequently occurs in alongside gonorrhea. Because it is a bacterial infection, chlamydia can be treated and cured.
Gonorrhea is a common STD that can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat.
Ways Gonorrhea is spread: From vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. You can get gonorrhea in your eye if you have touched parts of the body that contain traces of these diseases then your eye. Like chlamydia, mothers can pass the infection on to their babies during childbirth, which can cause eye infections that can lead to vision loss or rarely a life-threatening blood infection in the baby. This STD occurs alongside chlamydia frequently. Because it is a bacterial infection, gonorrhea can be treated and cured, although resistance to antibiotics is becoming more common.
Syphilis is an STD that causes long-term problems if left untreated. Symptoms of syphilis usually occur in stages. Stage 1 and 2 heal on there own after a time, but this can result in progressing to stage 3 which may have serious effects on the brain, heart, liver, and bones. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to organ damage and eventually death.
Ways Syphilis is spread: From contact with a syphilis sore or chancre during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If an individual has a syphilis sore on their lips or inside their mouth they can also spread this disease via prolonged kissing. Syphilis can be spread to unborn babies and can cause serious pregnancy complications, including stillbirth. Because it is a bacterial infection, syphilis can be effectively treated and cured in the early stages.
Oral herpes is an STD that causes cold sores or fever blisters, typically around the lips or mouth. Herpes Simplex 1 is a viral infection and currently does not have a cure. However, treatment options are available to shorten active outbreaks.
Ways Oral Herpes is spread: The most common way this STD is spread is by kissing. It can also be contracted from infected cells that shed from the skin even when cold sores are not present (this process is known as viral shedding). You can also get oral herpes by performing oral sex on someone who has genital herpes.
Genital herpes is an STD that causes sore on the genitals, buttocks, rectal area and/or upper thighs. Herpes Simplex 2 is a viral infection and currently does not have a cure. However, treatment options are available to shorten active outbreaks.
Ways Genital Herpes is spread: Genital Herpes is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. It can be spread from infected cells that shed from the skin even when sores are not present. You can also get genital herpes if your partner has oral herpes and performs oral sex on you.
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The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an STD that is characterized by initially long-lasting flu-like symptoms. HIV weakens the immune system by attacking CD4+ and T-Cells, making it difficult for the body to fight off infection and disease. HIV is a viral infection and currently does not have a cure. However, treatment options are available, like antiretrovirals (ARVs), to help stop the progression of the disease from becoming AIDS. HIV can now be well-controlled using regular ARV therapy.
Ways HIV is spread: HIV is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. It can also be spread via blood from sharing needles, tattoo or piercing equipment that isn’t properly sterilized, or from getting an infected individuals blood on/in an open wound, sore, or cut. Individuals who have other STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes are more likely to get HIV. HIV can also be spread from mothers to their babies during childbirth and via breast milk.
Hepatitis A is a very contagious STD that affects the liver. Hepatitis A is a viral infection, and currently does not have a cure, however, treatment options are available.
Ways Hepatitis A is spread: Hepatitis A can be transmitted by close, intimate contact with an infected individual but may also be spread via contaminated food or water. In addition, it can be contracted from shared needles or sexual contact with someone who has the virus. It is spread when infected feces come into contact with an individual’s digestive tract. Hence, the usual method of sexual transmission following anal sex or analingus. Hepatitis A is preventable by a vaccine.
Hepatitis B is an incurable viral STD that causes liver infection. Hepatitis B is a viral infection and currently does not have a cure. However, treatment options are available which effectively suppress the virus and reduce the risk of complications, such as liver failure.
Ways Hepatitis B is spread: Hepatitis B can be spread by exposure to infected blood and various body fluids like menstrual, vaginal and seminal fluids, shared needles or tattoo equipment, or from mother to baby at birth. More than 90 percent of healthy adults who contract hepatitis B virus will recover naturally from the virus within the first year. Hepatitis B is preventable by a vaccine.
Hepatitis C is an incurable viral STD that mainly affects the liver. Hepatitis C is a viral infection and currently does not have a cure. However, treatment options are available to control the disease.
Ways Hepatitis C is spread: Hepatitis C is spread by contact with blood or bodily fluids from a person infected with the virus, shared needles or from mother to baby at birth. Injection drug use is the most common means of transmission of these disease in the US. There is not currently a vaccine/immunization for Hepatitis C.
Many STDs and STIs do not display symptoms or portray symptoms that mimic other illnesses. Get tested for all of these STDs today at any of our 4,500+ locations!
Medically Reviewed by Gill Sellick MBChB on September 24, 2018
Author: Nick Corlis
Nick Corlis is a writer, marketer, and designer. He graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Digital Communications. Nick is proud to be able to help eliminate the stigma of STD testing through his writing and is always trying to advocate the importance of your sexual health. Before STDcheck, his favorite way to develop his writing skills was by accepting various writing jobs in college and maintaining multiple blogs. Nick wears many hats here at STDcheck, but specifically enjoys writing accurate, well-researched content that is not only informative and relatable but sometimes also contains memes. When not writing, Nick likes to race cars and go-karts, eat Japanese food, and play games on his computer.