safe motherhood

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, What are they and the Types

These diseases used to be known as venereal diseases or VD and some people will still use these words. Venereal comes from Venus, the goddess of love. STDs are spread by having sex with an infected person. The germs that cause STDs are spread from one person to another during the act of making love. They can be spread by anal or oral sex too.

General Questions

What are sexually transmitted diseases?

Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs as they are commonly called, are diseases that are spread by sex. That is, a person with one of these illnesses gives the illness to their sex partner during the act of having sex.

What type of germs cause STDs?

STDs(sexually transmitted diseases) are caused by bacteria, viruses and fungus germs and sometimes by other parasites.

What is a bacteria?

A bacteria is a type of germ that is very small but it can be seen easily under a microscope. The germ is like a complete little animal and they can live by themselves by feeding on their surroundings. They can usually move by themselves at least a small distance. They are fairly easy to treat with antibiotics. Examples of STDs that are caused by bacteria are gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

What is a virus?

A virus is a type of germ that is even smaller than bacteria germs and they cannot be seen under a microscope. They cannot live by themselves and they need to live inside another living cell to be able to reproduce themselves. Although they are much simpler than bacteria, they are much harder to treat. Examples of STDs caused by viruses are herpes, warts, and HIV infection.

What is a fungus?

A fungus is a germ that needs to live on another living thing. They particularly like to live on warm, wet areas. They are a bit like plants and they do not have any means of moving by themselves. A typical fungal infection is the yeast vaginitis that women can get. Athlete's foot and some types of jock itch are examples of fungal infections although they are not STDs.

How are these germs spread from person to person?

The germs live either directly on the skin or in body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions and blood. When the germs on one body make contact with another body they may get transferred over to the other body. The basic way to protect yourself is to put a barrier or block between you and the germs. That is what a condom does. It is important to remember the STDs are not spread by casual contact. They are not spread by touching, coughing, shaking hands or sharing a glass with someone. These diseases are spread by direct contact with a sore or with contact with body fluids that contain the STD germs.

Can you have an STD without knowing it?

Yes, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have little or no symptoms. Many people are infected without knowing it. In an STD such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, up to 90% of women infected with these germs have no symptoms at all.

Is it possible to be exposed to an STD and not get the disease?

Yes, In some cases a person may be exposed to the disease and not actually get the disease. There may not have been enough germs transferred to the other body or the person receiving the germs could have successfully fought them off before the germs were able to start the disease.

Are STDs spread by public bathrooms?

No. STDs are not spread by use of bathrooms (unless one were having sex there). STDs are spread through having sex. In an extremely rare case, pubic lice (crabs) can fall onto a toilet seat and may get on a future user of that seat. Some people who still worry about sanitation in toilets can wipe the seat or line the seat with toilet paper.

Are STDs spread by sharing clothes? What about washed clothes?

Again the only possible STDs that could possibly be spread by sharing clothes are crabs and scabies. Again this would be extremely uncommon and not usually a big worry. Washing clothes removes any of these little creatures.

Can a person get more than one Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Yes, it is certainly possible to get more than one STD at one time. The most that I have ever seen in my career as an STD specialist was a man with five different diseases at one time.

Are there treatments for all the STDs?

Yes, we can treat all the STDs(sexually transmitted disease) but we do not have a cure for all of them. Some of the STDs such as syphilis and gonorrhea can be totally cured fairly easily if treated properly and promptly. Others, such as herpes and hepatitis can be treated but not cured completely. In HIV disease, we can give some medicines that help these people a lot but we still do not have a cure.

Where can a person get more information about STDs?

There is a national STD hotline that is open from 8 AM to 11 PM Eastern time. The number is 1-800-227-8922

Complete list of STDs

  • Amebiasis
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Campylobacter Fetus
  • Candidiasis
  • Chancroid
  • Chlamydia
  • Condyloma Acuminata
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Enteric Infections
  • Genital Mycoplasmas
  • Genital Warts (HPV)
  • Giardiasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Granuloma Inguinale
  • Hepatitis
  • Herpes
  • HIV Disease
  • Lymphogranuloma Venereum
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Pediculosis Pubis
  • Pubic Lice (Crabs)
  • Salmonella
  • Scabies
  • Shingellosis
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Yeast Infection
  • Vaginitis

Anatomy and Physiology of the Sexual Organs

How to Self examine for STD's

A Aids/Hiv Overview

Sexual Transmitted Diseases and their Type