Below are the most common STIs/STDs along with the associated symptoms and treatments. While some STIs/STDs are not curable, virtually all are treatable. If you suspect you have been exposed, seek medical treatment at once even if you don’t have any symptoms.
|Common Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases
|Name & Mode of Transmission
||Symptoms and Treatments
|Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and is passed through sexual contact.
||May show no symptoms. Women: low grade fever, vaginal discharge, unusual bleeding, abdominal pain, painful intercourse.
Men: penile discharge, painful urination, pain or swelling in the genital area.
|If untreated - women may experience pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility, men may develop urinary tract infections and infertility. Premature birth. Babies infected during pregnancy or birth may suffer from eye damage and pneumonia.
|Genital Warts or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a group of over 20 viruses. Passed through sexual contact.
||May show no symptoms. Single or multiple soft growths on penis, vulva, or anus.
Treatment: Removal through chemical, cryo-freezing, laser therapy or surgery. No known cure.
|Increased risk of cervical and genital cancers. May be passed to the baby at birth with the development of warts on baby’s throat obstructing the airway (the warts must be removed).
|Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection passed by sexual contact (warm, moist areas, for example, cervix, penis, mouth).
||May show no symptoms. Burning urination, vaginal discharge, abnormal pain and tenderness (women), and whitish penile discharge (men).
|If untreated: PID and infertility in both men and women. Infection to joints, heart tissue, and/or brain as well as genital pain. It can cause blindness and other systemic diseases in infants infected during delivery.
|Hepatitis B is a virus passed through sexual contact, sharing needles, body piercing and tattooing with contaminated instruments, and exposure to tainted blood products.
||Initially may have no symptoms or only mild ones. Diagnosis includes jaundice, tiredness, nausea, dark urine, and gray-colored stools. Immunization against Hepatitis B is available. Treatment: No known cure, rest, most recover from the infection within 4-8 weeks.
||Severe liver damage including cancer of the liver and cirrhosis.
Pregnant women can transmit the disease to their unborn children. Infants of infected mothers can be treated and vaccinated at birth possibly eliminating the risk of chronic infection.
|Herpes Simplex Type 2 (genital herpes) is a virus passed through sexual skin-to-skin contact with the infected site. Herpes Simplex Type 1, usually spread by nonsexual contact and causes sores on the lips, can be transmitted through oral sex.
||Is contagious even without symptoms. Painful, itching sores, fever, flu-like symptoms, burning urination, pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area, vaginal discharge.
Treatment: antiviral drugs such as Acyclovir. No known cure.
|Repeated flare-ups. Increases risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Complications to the baby if infected during pregnancy or birth include brain damage and death.
|HIV/AIDS is a virus passed through infected sexual contact, sharing needles and drug paraphernalia, piercing the skin with contaminated instrument, infection by one’s HIV/AIDS infected mother during pregnancy or childbirth or through her breast milk, or infected blood or blood products.
||There may be no symptoms for many years. Weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, diarrhea, pneumonia. Weakened immune system.
Treatment: antiretroviral drug protocol. No known cure.
May be passed to the child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. HIV positive pregnant women (relatively healthy, CD4+ count above 500) who receive the antiretroviral drug protocol can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby to as low as 8%.
|Syphilis is a bacterial infection passed through direct contact with the sores of someone who is infected usually through sexual contact. Spread by non-sexual contact if the resulting sores, rashes, and mucous patches come in contact with the broken skin of a non-infected person.
||Low grade fever, sores in genital area, rash, arthritis, hair loss, and swollen glands.
|If untreated, heart disease, brain damage, eyes, nervous system, bones and joints, and death. If untreated, a pregnant woman has a 40%-70% chance of transmitting the disease to her unborn child. Stillbirth and death of the infant are not uncommon. Infant may also suffer from damage to the heart, brain, and eyes.
Sources: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “2002 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines,” U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia. Nestor, L., Brott O’Connell, M., “Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections,” Office of Population Affairs, Office of Public Health and Science, U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services, 2008.
What is the most common STI/STD in America? Depends how you ask…
In terms of reported cases each year: Chlamydia - more common than the common cold.
In terms of prevalence (people currently living with the infection): Herpes II - 45 million.
In terms of estimated incidence (number infected yearly): HPV - 6.2 million new cases a year.
With one in four sexually active teens contracting an STI/STD each year, and with many of these teens not seeking medical attention for their sexual health, these diseases pose a serious risk to our youth. Ask your teen if he or she has learned about these risks in health class, and if not, provide the information yourself. It may help your teen see that sex is something to take very seriously.
Teen pregnancy has been on the decline since reaching its all-time high in 1991, but numbers still remain distressingly high. Thirty-four percent of American teen girls will become pregnant at least once before turning age 20, which results in approximately 820,000 teen pregnancies across the nation each year.
On a more local front, Oregon ranks 23rd (1 being the fewest, 50 the most) among the states for the number of teen pregnancies. In 2002, 2,127 Oregon teens became pregnant. Of those, 96 were between the ages of 10 and 14.
Why is teen pregnancy a concern?
- Teen mothers are more likely to be single parents and less likely to finish high school.
- Teen pregnancy is closely linked with poverty in a cause-effect cycle.
- Young teens typically experience greater health risks in pregnancy than older women. Early pregnancy can even compromise overall health later in life.
- Children of teen parents often have insufficient health care and inadequate parenting
- Children of teen parents are twice as likely to be victims of abuse or neglect as children of women who delay childbearing.
- Teen pregnancy costs the U.S. billions of dollars. Each year, the federal government spends $40 billion to help families that began with a teenage birth.
What’s the surest way to reduce teen pregnancy? Encourage our children to wait to have sex. Tell them that having a child is a huge responsibility, not a way to fix a faltering relationship or to ensure that they’ll have someone there who will always love them. Unless they are ready to handle the responsibility of a possible pregnancy, they are not ready for sex.
However, be sure to communicate to your children that while you expect certain behaviors, they should never feel afraid to come to you for help in any situation. Teenagers who become pregnant are often so fearful of their parents’ responses, that they will try to hide or ignore the pregnancy, endangering both their health and the health of the babies. A pregnant teen truly is “in crisis” and needs all the support and love her parents or guardians can give.