If you have questions about STDs, you’re in the right place. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about STDs. 

What Are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are contagious infections that can cause disease in the body. STDs are transmitted through sexual contact (including oral and anal sex), from mother to child during pregnancy or delivery, and through risky behaviors like sharing needles.

 There are 3 types of STDs:

  • Bacterial: Examples of bacterial STDs include chlamydia and gonorrhea. Bacterial STDs are cured with a course of antibiotics.
  • Viral: Examples of viral STDs are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes. Viral STDs cannot be cured, but are treated with antiviral medications that limit their symptoms and can lessen the risk of transmitting the infection to a partner.
  • Parasitic: The most common parasitic STD is trichomoniasis (trich). Trich is also cured with a course of antibiotics.

 It is important to note that after receiving treatment for an STD, you are not immune to it in the future. If exposed to the STD, you can contract it again, so it is essential to repeat STD testing regularly. 

What Are the Symptoms of an STD?

STDs do not always have symptoms. They can go undiagnosed for months or even years while they are asymptomatic. However, just because an infected person does not have symptoms does not mean that they can’t transmit the STD to their partner or that the STD is not causing damage to their body.

Some common signs and symptoms of STDs may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods

Does Birth Control Protect Me from STDs?

If you are sexually active, you are at risk of contracting STDs. Birth control does not protect against STDs. Even condoms cannot guarantee that you will not contract an STD. The only way to have zero risk is to abstain from sexual engagement if your partner has an active STD. 

How Often Should I Be Tested for STDs? 

The CDC recommends that sexually active women younger than 25 be tested yearly for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women over 25 should be tested yearly if they have sex with a new partner or multiple partners. Pregnant women should also be tested for STDs. 

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