More than half of Americans will have some form of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in their lifetime, according to the American Social Health Association. In light of STD Awareness Month this April, we wanted to share some of the lesser known STDs.
While STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes are widely known, they certainly aren’t the only STDs that exist.
Here is a list of four lesser known STDs:
- Trichomoniasis: This STD is a parasite that is transmitted during sex and is most common in sexually active women, but it can also be contracted by men. More than 7.4 million new cases are reported each year, according the CDC. In women, it infects the vagina and in men it infects the urethra.
What are the symptoms? Most infected people don’t have any symptoms. Men may feel itching or irritation inside the penis and women may notice burning itching or redness in the genitals
Can it be treated? Yes, through antibiotics
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs often caused by untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can cause scar tissue outside and inside the fallopian tubes, infertility and more.
What are the symptoms? Fever, bleeding between periods, pain in your lower abdomen and more
Can it be treated? It can be treated with antibiotics if detected early, but any damage it has already done can’t be reverted.
- Chancroid: This bacterial sexually transmitted infection is spread through sexual contact and causes painful ulcers or sores in the genital region.
What are the symptoms? Women often have no symptoms and men have painful, ulcers around the penis.
Can it be treated? Yes, with antibiotics, but some ulcers may need to be drained
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection; nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their life, according to the CDC. It is transmitted through sex and can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer when it doesn’t go away.
What are the symptoms? Most people who have HPV do not know they are infected and never have symptoms or health problems
Can it be treated? The virus itself cannot be, but genital warts and cervical pre-cancer can be
The only certain way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity.
If you are sexually active, here are several ways to lower your risk of getting an STD:
- Be in a monogamous relationship
- Use condoms
- Know that some methods of birth control don’t protect you against STDs
- Get tested regularly
- Honestly tell your doctor about your sexual partner and sexual history
If you think that you have an STD, refrain from sexual activity and speak with your doctor immediately.