Sexually transmitted diseases STDsor sexually transmitted infections STIsare generally acquired by sexual contact. The organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. Sometimes these infections can be transmitted nonsexually, as from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles.
It's possible to contract sexually transmitted diseases from people who seem perfectly healthy, and who may not even be aware of the infection. STDs don't always cause symptoms, which is one of the reasons experts prefer the term "sexually transmitted infections" to "sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted infections STIs can have a range of signs and symptoms, including no symptoms. That's why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a Sexually transmitting disease is diagnosed.
Signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:. Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure, or it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism. Sexual activity plays a role in spreading many other infectious agents, although it's possible to be infected without sexual contact.
Examples include the hepatitis A, B and C viruses, shigella, and Giardia intestinalis.
Anyone who is sexually active risks exposure to a sexually transmitted infection to some degree. Factors that may increase that risk include:. Vaginal or anal penetration by an infected partner who isn't wearing a latex condom significantly increases the risk of getting an STI. Improper or inconsistent use of condoms can also increase your risk.
Oral sex may be less risky, but infections can still be transmitted without a latex condom or dental dam. Dental — thin, square pieces of rubber made with latex or silicone — prevent skin-to-skin contact. Certain STIs — such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis — can be passed from "Sexually transmitting disease" infected mother to her child during pregnancy or delivery.
STIs in infants can cause serious problems and may be fatal. All pregnant women should be screened for these infections and treated. Because many people in the early stages of an STI experience no symptoms, screening for STIs is important in preventing complications.
Getting vaccinated early, before sexual exposure, is also effective in preventing certain types of STIs. If not fully vaccinated at ages 11 and 12, the CDC recommends that girls and women through age 26 and boys and men through age 26 receive the vaccine.
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given to newborns, and the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for 1-year-olds. Both vaccines are recommended for people who aren't already immune to these diseases and for those who are at increased risk of infection, such as men who have with men and IV drug users. Use condoms and dental dams consistently and correctly.
Use a new latex condom or dental dam for each Sexually transmitting disease act, whether oral, vaginal or anal.
Never use an oil-based lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, with a latex condom or dental dam. Condoms made from Sexually transmitting disease membranes are not recommended because they're not as effective at preventing STIs.
Keep in mind that while condoms reduce your risk of exposure to most STIs, they provide a lesser degree of protection for STIs involving exposed genital sores, such as human papillomavirus HPV or herpes. Also, nonbarrier forms of contraception, such as oral contraceptives or intrauterine devices, don't protect against STIs.
Consider the drug Truvada.
In Julythe Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the combination drug emtricitabine-tenofovir Truvada to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in those who are at high risk. Truvada is also used as an HIV treatment along with other medications.
Your doctor should also test for hepatitis B infection. If you don't have hepatitis B, your doctor may recommend the hepatitis Sexually transmitting disease vaccine if you haven't had it yet.
If you have hepatitis B, your doctor should test your kidney function before prescribing Truvada. Truvada must be taken daily, exactly as prescribed, and you'll need follow-up HIV and kidney function testing every few months.
Truvada should only be used along with other prevention strategies such as condom use every time you have sex. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. References Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, Smith L, et al. Urology Clinics of North America. Overview of sexually transmitted diseases. Merck Manual Professional Version. Sexually transmitted infections STIs. "Sexually transmitting disease" JE, et al.
The McGraw-Hill Companies; New guidelines for cervical cancer screening: Patient education fact sheet.