Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types and Prevention

This article is medically reviewed by Dr Priya Jain (MBBS)

Millions of men and women across the globe suffer silently. 

Sexually transmitted diseases commonly known as STDs, A hush-hush taboo topic is what we are going to discuss today in this article.

There is a lack of awareness and lack of education among people about preventing and treating STDs. This is only because we don’t talk about it.

STDs is a serious condition that should be discussed openly.

It is also known as sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD).

So let’s begin.

What are sexually transmitted diseases?

Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

STDs is an infection that is transmitted from one person to another person through sexual contact. Unprotected sex whether vaginal, anal or oral with an infected person can lead to STDs.

It can be caused either by bacteria, virus or a parasite.

Other means by which a person can contract STDs are 

  • Sharing needles with an infected person
  • From an infected mother to an unborn baby
  • From breastfeeding
  • Through a physical genital skin contact 
  • Through genital or oral contact with the eyes

Sexually transmitted disease symptoms

Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Here are some common symptoms of STDs.

Abnormal vaginal discharge 

A woman could experience abnormal vaginal discharge with a foul smell which could be greenish, reddish or yellowish in colour. The yellow and green discharge might indicate gonorrhoea or trichomoniasis.

Painful urination

An STD can be indicated by pain, burning sensation or presence of blood during urination. You may also feel the need to pee more frequently.

Painful sexual activity

Painful sex and chronic pain in the pelvic region may indicate pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID). PID is most commonly caused by the advanced stage of gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

Sores and bumps

A woman can be having ulcers, sores, blisters, some kind of bumps or growths around the vaginal opening, around the anus, on the buttocks or on the vulva. It is an indication of herpes, HPV or syphilis.

Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Types of sexually transmitted disease

Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

There are different types of infections that can be transmitted sexually. The most common ones are described below.

  1. Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a common STD that is caused by bacterial infection. It is also known as “the clap”.

The symptoms of gonorrhoea include

  • Yellowish, greenish discharge
  • Painful urination
  • More frequent urination
  • Sore throat
  • Itching around genitals
  • Painful sex

If a pregnant woman is infected with gonorrhoea, she can pass this infection to her newborn during childbirth. This can create a lot of serious health problems in the baby.

Gonorrhoea if left untreated can lead to

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases
  • Infections in urethra
  1. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is another STD that is caused by bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported STD among Americans.

Symptoms of chlamydia include

  • Pain and discomfort during urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Yellowish or greenish discharge

Again if a pregnant woman is infected with chlamydia, she can pass the infection to her baby during birth.

This infection can cause

  • Blindness in the baby
  • Other eye infections 
  • Pnemonia

Chlamydia if left untreated can lead to

  1. Infertility
  2. Pelvic inflammatory diseases
  3. Infections in urethra
  1. Syphilis

Syphilis is a serious disease. It is caused by a bacteria called ‘treponema pallidum’.

 In the beginning, there could be just a small blister on your genitals or mouth which is called ‘chancre’, it’s painless but very infectious.

Symptoms of syphilis include

  • Joint pain
  • Abnormal weightloss
  • Hairloss
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Fever

Syphilis if left untreated can lead to 

  • Spinal cord and brain infections
  • Loss of memory, vision and hearing
  • Mental disorders
  • Heart diseases
  • Death 
  1. HPV (human papillomavirus)

Human papillomavirus spreads through intimate skin to skin contact and sexual contact. HPV is the most common STI in women. It’s also the main cause of cervical cancer.

The good thing is that the vaccine is available that can help prevent certain strains of HPV.

The most common symptom of HPV is genital warts. Small skin bump, a cluster of bumps, or stem-like protrusions may appear on the groin area, vulva or cervix.

These warts differ in size and appearance. They may be

  • Large or small
  • Pink, white, red, purplish-brown in colour
  • Flat or cauliflower shape

There’s no treatment or cure available for HPV. However, a point which is to be noted here is that sometimes HPV infections often clear up on their own.

  1. Herpes 

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is another common STD. According to the CDC 1 out of 6 people between the age of 14-49 in the united states are suffering from herpes.

There are two main strains of the virus HSV-1 and HSV-2.

HSV-1- This virus causes oral herpes which results in cold sores, blisters on or around the mouth and fever.

HSV-2- This virus causes genital herpes. Here the sores develop on or around the genitals.

Oral herpes caused by the HSV-1 virus can be spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex and hence sometimes HSV-1 virus can also cause genital herpes.

There is no permanent cure for herpes. However, medications are available to help cope up with the outbreaks of blisters which are very painful. These medications alleviate the pain of herpes sores. 

  1. HIV

HIV is the most dreaded STD. HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus. It’s a virus that attacks the immune system of the body making the person more prone to infections and also making them more prone to certain cancers.

Unfortunately, HIV has got no cure but nowadays with early diagnosis and early treatment with antiviral drugs most of these patients can lead a normal life and can decrease their risk of transmitting the infection to another person.

In order to promote early diagnosis and treatment, The Centers for disease control and prevention recommends that people between the age of 13-64 should get themselves tested at least once. 

The most common symptoms of HIV include

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Body pain 
  • Sore throat
  • Recurrent fatigue

Treatments options are available to manage it in the early stages however if HIV is left untreated, it can lead to stage 3 HIV infection which is known as AIDS.

  1. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is also called ‘trich’. It is caused by a protozoan and can be transmitted through genital contact.

Some common symptoms of trichomoniasis include

  • Itching around vagina
  • Discharges with ‘fishy smell’
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain and discomfort during urination
  • Pain and discomfort during sexual activity 

If left untreated it can lead to 

  • Infection in urethra
  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases

Curable STDs

The STDs that can be cured are

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis

Non-curable STDs

The STDs which cannot be cured are

  • HIV
  • HPV
  • Herpes

However, it is to be noted that even if some of the STD cannot be completely cured, they can still be managed with proper treatment and medication.

The only condition is it should be diagnosed at the right time. So if you feel that your symptoms resemble any of the STD, or if you have been sexually active with an infected partner, contact your doctor as soon as possible. 


STDs cannot be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms alone. It may also happen that the symptoms won’t show up in the initial days but even a symptom-free infection can cause issues with your health and can be passed to your sexually active partner. 

If your health care provider suspects of an infection, they are likely to recommend some tests that confirm the presence of an STD.

Your doctor will ask about your sexual history and then they can send your samples of blood and urine for testing. They may even take swabs of your genitals or sores and will also send them for testing.

Home testing kits are also available for some of the STDs but remember that they are not always reliable.

Treatment for STDs

Depending upon your type of STD, your doctor may start your treatment.

For bacterial STDs, antibiotics are given. Whereas viral STDs can’t be treated through antibiotics. However, antiviral drugs and treatments are available to relieve the symptoms and the risk of transmission.

Viral STDs can sometimes go on their own.

It is important to remember that you or your sexual partner should be completely free from STDs before resuming any kind of sexual activity otherwise the infection will keep coming again and again.

How can we prevent sexually transmitted diseases?

This is the most important part of this article. As said, “prevention is better than cure”. So let us discuss how can we prevent these STDs infections.

  1. Use protection
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Always use a condom, use it the right way and use it each time. They also prevent unwanted pregnancies. You can also use dental dams.

Do remember condom only gives you protection against STDs which are spread by the body fluids, it still does not give you protection against the skin to skin contact from the infected area from one person to another person.

  1. Avoid having multiple sex partners
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Having multiple sex partners exposes you more to contracting STDs. When you have multiple partners you actually don’t know about the other person’s sexual history and so you are at a higher risk of getting an STI. Also, avoid any kind of sexual activity under the influence of alcohol.

  1. Communicate
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

It is very important to enquire about the sexual history of your partner before indulging in any activity especially if the partner is new. Honest communication is essential here.

  1. Wash your hands before and after any sexual activity
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

It is always a good idea to wash your hands before and after sex to get rid of any bacteria or virus that may be present in your hands. Until you wash your hands avoid touching your eyes because the infection may spread through your eyes too.

  1. Wash and pass urine before and after any sexual activity
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Wash your genitals with plain water. Avoid douching the vagina because it can cause micro-cuts or abrasions inside the vagina which makes the person more prone to acquiring the infection. This is very important for maintaining your intimate hygiene.

Also, it is a good idea to pass urine before and after indulging in sexual activity.

  1. Get yourself vaccinated
Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs): Symptoms, Types, Prevention

Talk to your doctor and if you are eligible, get yourself and your partner vaccinated for hepatitis B and HPV. 

Few facts that you should be aware of STDs

  1. Infection might actually appear weeks after the original sexual contact.
  2. Having one STD puts you at risk of acquiring the second one.
  3. A weakened immunity also increases the risk of acquiring an STD.
  4. Smoking also increases the risk of acquiring STDs.
  5. Hugging someone, sharing clothes, sharing glasses, sharing utensils, sharing a toilet does not transfer the STD.
  6. Birth control methods like birth control pills and IUCD do not offer you protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Strict dont’s 

  1. Never self diagnose or self treat.
  2. Never take antibiotics on your own. If you’ve been advised to take antibiotics please take the course completely even you feel completely fine.
  3. Never use any creams on your own especially steroid creams for viral infections or warts because these creams can exaggerate these infections.
  4. Internet is full of home remedies for sexually transmitted diseases like apple cider vinegar, garlic, echinacea plant, but remember taking these home remedies may ease out your symptoms but they do not offer the complete cure. So make sure to get your infection diagnosed well and treat it completely.

What do to after being diagnosed with an STD?

Here are a few things that you should do once you have been diagnosed with STD or STI.

  1. Do not panic as most of the STDs are treatable. You will be fine.
  2. Let your partner know about your medical condition and ask him to get checked and tested.
  3. Start the medication given by your doctor immediately and do not skip your medicines.
  4. Abstain from indulging in any sexual activity until you are your partner are completely treated. Wait for your doctor’s approval. 
  5. Eat healthy and focus on improving your immunity. Make sure your sugar levels are not high and your haemoglobin count is good.


There is nothing to be scared of STDs. We have already discussed that most of them are curable. The problem arises when we ignore and delay things.

It is important to see a doctor immediately if you find any abnormality. A timely diagnosis will prevent the infection from spreading furthermore and you will heal more quickly.

If you have questions regarding STDs, feel free to reach out to us via comments or directly.

You can contact us.

Stay healthy, stay happy.


Shecontent has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. 
  • Genital herpes – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Gonorrhoea – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Trichomoniasis – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Chlamydia statistics

  • Dear colleague

  • HIV/AIDS & STDs 

  • HIV testing

  • HPV and cancer

  • Sexually transmitted disease symptoms – Mayo clinic

  • Oral and genital herpes

  • Sexually transmitted diseases 

  • STDs

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