As a sexually active person, it's important to understand the different types of STDs. From gonorrhea to HIV, each STD can produce its own set of symptoms and lead to different long-term effects.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the different kinds of STDS as well as the signs to be aware of.
Chlamydia is a common STD. It can affect both men and women and, in serious cases, can lead to permanent damage within a woman’s reproductive system. You can get chlamydia through sexual activity with an infected person. The long-term effects of chlamydia primarily affect women and can cause ectopic pregnancy, in which the pregnancy occurs outside of the womb.
Here are some symptoms to look for:
- Painful urination
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Vaginal discharge (in women)
- Discharge from the penis (in men)
- Pain during sexual intercourse (in women)
- Irregular bleeding between periods (in women)
- Testicular pain (in men)
Any sexually active person can get gonorrhea. It’s most commonly spread during sexual contact—be it vaginal, oral, or anal sex—and often affects the urethra, throat, or rectum. In women, gonorrhea can infect the cervix. In addition, gonorrhea can affect the eyes, leading to light sensitivity and pus-like discharge.
Symptoms of Gonorrhea
- Thick, cloudy, or bloody discharge
- Painful sensation or burning when urinating
- Heavy bleeding during, or between, periods
- Testicles that are painful and swollen
- Bowel movements that are painful
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Anal itching
Trichomoniasis is another one of the different kinds of STDs, and is an infection that’s caused by a parasite. Men often have no symptoms, while women may experience a foul-smelling vaginal discharge along with painful urination and itching.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis:
- Unusually-colored vaginal discharge
- Penis discharge
- Unpleasant vaginal odor
- Itching or irritation around the vagina
- Itching or irritation inside the penis
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful urination
HIV, also known as human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks your body’s immune system. If HIV goes untreated, it is the virus that leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Although there is currently no cure, with treatment, an HIV infection can be managed.
Symptoms of HIV include:
- Flu-like illness (typically two to six weeks after being infected)
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
As an HIV infection progresses into its later stages, symptoms can include things like weight loss, chronic diarrhea, headaches, and night sweats.
Genital herpes is one of the different types of STDs that’s caused by two types of viruses. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (also known as HSV-1) is known to cause cold sores around the mouth. Oral herpes can come as a result of non-sexual contact with saliva and are sometimes contracted during childhood. However, HSV-1 can also spread from mouth to genitals during oral sex. Globally, roughly 3.7 billion people under age 50 have HSV-1 infection.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes. This affects roughly 491 million people under the age of 50 around the world.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes include:
- Small red bumps, blisters, or open sores in the genital and anal areas
- Pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks, and inner thighs
- Ulcers, which may form when blisters bleed, ooze, or rupture (ulcers can also lead to painful urination)
- Scabs (as ulcers heal, the skin will crust over and form scabs)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is another example of the different kinds of STDs that can affect both men and women, though its symptoms most commonly present themselves in women. An HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, and occurs most frequently through vaginal and anal sex. Keep in mind, there are many different forms of HPV—some are high risk, others are not. There is an HPV vaccine that helps to protect both men and women against contracting the virus. The CDC recommends HPV vaccination beginning at age 11 or 12 years for everyone through age 26.
Symptoms of HPV:
- Small swellings in the genital area
- Genital warts close together
- Itching or discomfort
- Bleeding during intercourse
There are different types of hepatitis (A, B, and C), but hepatitis B is an infection that can spread through sexual intercourse and potentially leads to liver disease. Of the various types of hepatitis, it is the one that’s most likely to spread during sex. Due to its highly contagious nature, it can also be spread through sharing needles or razors that carry the virus.
Symptoms of a hepatitis infection:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort in your liver area
- Loss of appetite
- Pale, clay-colored bowel movements
- Urine that is dark
- Muscle or joint pain
- Itching around the genitals
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to health problems if left untreated. Syphilis can be divided into stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. You contract syphilis by coming into direct contact with a person who has a syphilitic sore during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. It can also spread from a mother to her baby during childbirth; in this instance, it’s referred to as congenital syphilis.
When discussing what are the different types of STDs, syphilis is important to familiarize yourself with, as late-stage syphilis (tertiary syphilis) can lead to severe medical issues.
Symptoms of Syphilis:
- Rash (with red or reddish-brown sores over the body)
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Fatigue and discomfort
- Soreness and aching
In addition to those more commonly discussed sexually transmitted diseases listed above, there are other different kinds of STDs as well. Though not as common, it’s still important to understand the effect of the following STDs.
Pubic Lice Infestation
Pubic lice are typically found in the hair of the pubic area, though they can often be found on other parts of the body (such as in the coarse hair of the armpits or beard). A pubic lice infestation—also known as phthiriasis—usually spreads during sexual intercourse.
Mycoplasma genitalium was first identified in 1980 and is a cause of acute and chronic urethritis in men, or inflammation of the urethra.
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
Lymphogranuloma Venereum is characterized by a small (typically asymptomatic) skin lesion that’s followed by regional lymphadenopathy (inflammation) in the groin or pelvis. If it’s acquired via anal sex, this may also show up as serious proctitis, a condition where the lining tissue of the inner rectum becomes inflamed.
Scabies is caused by microscopic parasites, and spread from skin-to-skin contact, sometimes during sexual intercourse. Although the majority of adults get scabies from sexual activity, you can also get it in other instances where close skin-to-skin contact is common (such as in prisons and nursing homes).
How to Decrease Your Risk of STDS
Knowing the different types of STDs, how do you prevent them? Limiting your number of sexual partners or practicing monogamy with an uninfected partner can help you avoid contracting STIs.
Here are some other tools to implement into your sex routine.
Properly using male latex condoms during sexual intercourse is a highly-effective method for reducing the likelihood of contracting STIs.
Regular STD testing can help you stay healthy and decrease your chances of experiencing long-term side effects of STDs. Understanding how often you should get tested for STDs will keep both you and your partner safe from potential infection.
Having Sex Talks
Being open and honest with a new sexual partner can help to decrease your risk of spreading or getting a sexually transmitted infection.
With a new understanding of the different types of STDs, you can move forward feeling knowledgeable about your sexual health. We know how important it is to stay on top of your sexual health. Eddie by Giddy is an effective way to treat performance issues in the bedroom, whether the cause is psychological, physical, or the side effect of medications. Check out our ED device to learn about how you can start having a more fulfilling sex life.
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- Disease and Related Conditions. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Bacterial Vaginosis. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Chlamydia. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Gonorrhea. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Herpes Simplex Virus. World Health Organization. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Genital Herpes. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- HPV and Men Factsheet. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Hepatitis B. Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Other STDS. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Lice - Public - “Crab” Lice. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Emerging Issues. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV). Merck Manuals. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Proctitis. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Scabies. Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases. CDC. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.
- Trichomoniasis. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 9th, 2021.