Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that are mainly passed from one person to another during sex. There are at least 25 different sexually transmitted diseases with a range of different symptoms. These diseases may be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex.
Most sexually transmitted diseases will only affect you if you have sexual contact with someone who has an STD. However there are some infections, for example scabies, which are referred to as STDs because they are most commonly transmitted sexually, but which can also be passed on in other ways.
Often called “the clap,” gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhea bacteria. This bacteria can be found in moist areas of the body including the vagina, penis, eyes, throat, and rectum. Infection can occur with contact to any of these areas. An infected person may also spread gonorrhea from one part of their body to another by touch. Gonorrhea can be spread through all forms of sexual activity including oral, vaginal, and rectal sex. Gonorrhea may be passed to newborns if their mother is infected when childbirth occurs.
Who gets gonorrhea?
Although any sexually active person can get gonorrhea, it is most prevalent among those from 15 to 30. Women who have vaginal intercourse with an infected man have a 60 to 90 percent chance of becoming infected; while men who have vaginal sex with an infected woman have a significantly lower 30 to 50 percent chance of becoming infected by this sexually transmitted disease.
Symptoms of gonorrhea:
- abnormal bleeding
- a burning sensation during urination
- vaginal discharge
- general irritation of the outer area of the vagina
Dyspareunia is the clinical name for painful intercourse. The pain can be felt as burning, sharp, searing or cramping. It can be external, within the vagina, or deep in the pelvic region or abdomen.
Causes of Dyspareunia Are Multiple
The causes of dyspareunia, as with most sexual dysfunction, can be classified as either organic (physical or medical factors such as illness, injury or drug effects) or psychosocial (including psychological, interpersonal, environmental and cultural factors). The cause of a sexual dysfunction in a given person may be a combination of several factors, and in some cases, the precise cause may not be identifiable at all.
Female dyspareunia can be caused by dozens of physical conditions. Any condition that results in poor vaginal lubrication can cause discomfort during intercourse. Among the more common culprits are drugs that have a drying effect (antihistamines, certain tranquilizers, marijuana) and disorders such as diabetes, vaginal infections, and estrogen deficiencies.
Other causes of female dyspareunia include:
- blisters, rashes and inflammation around the vaginal opening or the vulva
- irritation or infection of the clitoris
- disorders of the vaginal opening, such as scarring from an episiotomy, intact hymen or remnants of the hymen that are stretched during intercourse, or infection of the Bartholin’s glands
- disorders of the urethra or anus
- disorders of the vagina, such as surgical scarring, thinning of vaginal walls (whether due to aging or estrogen deficiency), and irritation due to chemicals that are found in contraceptive materials or douches
- pelvic disorders such as infection, tumors, abnormalities of the cervix or uterus, and torn ligaments around the uterus.
Chancroid is a highly infectious and curable sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Haemophilus Ducreyl (also known as H. Ducreyl). Because Chancroid can be transmitted without even having sex, it ranks Chancroid was once rare in the U.S. and use to be primarily found in Africa and parts of Asia known for high sexual activity. Women are usually unaware that they have a Chancroid ulcer either on the inside, or outside of their bodies. This fact, of course, perpetuates the transmission of this highly infectious, sexually transmitted disease.
Symtoms for Chancroid in female
First signs of infection appear from 3-5 days and up to 2 weeks after contact, and usually a tender, raised bump develops where the bacteria entered the body:
- inside/outside the vagina or rectum
- occasionally on hands, thighs or mouth
- on the penis
Within 1-4 days the bump transforms into one or more shallow sores which break open and deepen, becoming:
- filled with pus
The next stage may persist for several weeks and may result in:
- a painful open sore
- purulent base of the ulcer
- several lesions merging to form gigantic ulcers
In over half of the untreated cases the chancroid bacteria infects the lymph glands in the groin.
The lymph glands in the groin may
- swell, creating a pus-filled bulge, known as a bubo
- enlarge until they burst through the skin
- drain continuously
- remain open
- become infected by other bacteria
- may be firm or fluctuant
- may rupture or ulcerate
The typical chancroid bubo:
- appears about 1-2 weeks after the ulcer forms
- is unilateral, spherical, and painful
4. Genital warts
Female genital warts is the most widely spread sexually transmitted diseases among women. It is caused by a virus called HPV (the human papilloma virus). In fact there is an estimated number of 20 million Americans who are infected by this virus. Moreover, about 5.6 million new infections are declared each year in the US.
The HPV infection does not always cause genital warts or any symptoms of any kind. And even when it does, the first signs of genital warts and other symptoms only start to appear after a couple of months or even years following the infection.
How does a female get genital warts?
- Sexual contact is the most common way to transmit female genital warts.
- Oral sex can also transmit HPV, but research shows that the virus “prefers” genital tissues to those of the mouth.
- Vertical transmission occurs when a mother passes the virus and genital warts to her baby during birth.
- Auto (self) transmission can occur from one site to another on a woman.
- Fomites: the virus may be passed from an object (like a bath towel or toilet seat) to the woman, though research has not proven this theory.
Symptoms of female genital warts
Female genital warts are pinkish, reddish or grey swellings of the skin that grow on the vulva, the vagina (the case of vaginal warts or vaginal genital warts), the area between external genitals and the anus and even in the anus. They can also grow inside the uterus.
These swellings grow to form clusters that take on a cauliflower shape. Some times the symptoms of female genital warts can also include a sensation of burning and itching and can even cause some bleeding.
Trichomoniasis, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), is caused by a parasite, trichomonas vaginalis, that can live in the urogenital tract of males and females and infect any sexually active person, especially those who are not using protection or who have multiple partners.
Symptoms of trich can appear as early as 4 days after sex with an infected partner. But trichomoniasis often goes undiagnosed because symptoms may not appear until later, if at all.
In females, symptoms can include:
- abundant or frothy vaginal discharge ranging in color from gray to green to yellow, with a watery to milky consistency
- foul odor
- itching and tenderness in or around the vagina
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex
- pain during urination
- soreness or itching of the labia and inner thighs
- swollen labia
If you have a teenage daughter, it’s important for her to recognize both a normal vaginal discharge (it’s usually clear or whitish, has no odor, and causes no irritation) and the signs that something might be wrong.