Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a serious problem in the U.S. Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2018. However, not all STDs are created equal. Some can be cured while others can last a lifetime. Furthermore, some go undetected for years while others have symptoms specific to one gender. Our STD list breaks down the differences from chlamydia to syphilis. Keep yourself safe and know the statistics of STDs.
Types of STDs
The first on our STD list starts with chlamydia. It can affect both men and women. However, women can get it in their cervix, throat, or rectum while men in their urethra, rectum, or throat. People develop chlamydia from oral, vaginal, and anal sex. A pregnant woman can also pass it on to her child while giving birth.
Many people do not experience any symptoms of chlamydia. This can make it go undetected for long periods of time. Nonetheless, symptoms for women include smelly vaginal discharge, burning while urinating, and painful intercourse. Furthermore, male symptoms include penile discharge, pain during urination, itching near the penis, and pain or itching in the testicles.
- 1.8 million cases in 2018
- 19% increase since 2014
Many confuse gonorrhea with chlamydia due to their similarities. Like chlamydia, it can affect a woman’s cervix, throat, or rectum and men’s urethra, throat, or rectum. Furthermore, mothers can infect their babies during childbirth. Many do not experience any symptoms. However, some symptoms include increased discharge in the penis or vagina, painful urination, pain in the testicles, vaginal bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain.
- 583,405 cases in 2018
- 63% increase since 2014
Primary and Secondary Syphilis
Next on our STD list are primary and secondary syphilis. They consist of two stages of syphilis. The first stage, primary syphilis, causes sores located on the mouth, genitals, or anus. If not treated, it can turn into secondary syphilis. You can cure both primary and secondary syphilis. However, if secondary syphilis continues to go untreated, it can turn into the incurable tertiary stage. This stage can damage your organs, cause dementia, paralysis, or even death.
Symptoms of secondary syphilis include a rash that doesn’t itch. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms including sore throat, fevers, headache, and fatigue.
- 35,063 cases in 2018
- 71% increase since 2014
Congenital syphilis consists of when the mother passes on syphilis to her baby during birth. Symptoms include low birth weight, skin issues, and fever. Many times, it can go undetected until the baby ages to a child of 2 to 5 years old.
- 1,306 cases in 2018
- 185% increase since 2014
Health consequences of STDs
Each year, nearly 20 million Americans become infected with an STD. Half of them all into the 15 and 24 age category. Across the nation, at any given time, the STD infections can exceed 110 million people. Furthermore, the long-lasting health effects for young people infected with STDs are particularly serious. Consequences of untreated STDs may include infertility, brain and other organ damage, and increased susceptibility to HIV.
Women infected with STDs suffer more long-term damage to their health than men. Given that most infected women have minimal or no symptoms, many remain undiagnosed and untreated. The untreated infections can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing infertility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancies, and chronic pelvic pain. Untreated infections can be passed along, mother to fetus, and result in infections of the baby in the uterus, death of the unborn baby and newborn, and an increased risk for cancer and HIV. A person who is infected with an STD is more likely than an uninfected person to acquire HIV if exposed to the virus through sexual contact.
Protecting yourself from STDs
Women can protect themselves by practicing safer sex, being tested for STDs by their health care provider, and if infected, seeking treatment immediately and asking their partner to get tested and treated to avoid reinfection. Sexually active people need the correct information on preventing STDs so they can make informed decisions about their sexual activity. Ask your healthcare provider if you should be screened for STDs.
Patient Education Resources
- Sexually transmitted diseases: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sexually_transmitted_diseases/article_em.htm
- Sexually transmitted diseases: https://www.cdc.gov/STD
Learn more by talking to a provider at Women’s Care Florida.