The most common types of STDs—the best ways to fight them in the U.S.

When you’re in the moment, it’s easy to forget about the possibility of STDs. But they’re a genuine part of sexual activity. Men and women can contract STDs, and many do so without realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to get tested regularly.

If you’re sexually active, get tested at least once a year. But if you have multiple partners or notice unusual symptoms, get tested more frequently. There are a variety of STDs out there, and not all of them have apparent symptoms. That’s why STD testing is essential, even if you think you’re healthy.

Fortunately, most STDs can be treated, and many can be cured. So, if you end up testing positive for something, don’t panic. Just get to a doctor or clinic as soon as possible, and they’ll help you get on the road to recovery.

What are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections you can get from having sex with someone with an STD. There are over 20 types of STDs, and you can get over one simultaneously. Some STDs can lead to severe problems, like infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or even death. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is STD testing regularly. We listed a few common types of STDs below:

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Many sexually active people will get HPV in their lives. Most of the time, it doesn’t cause any symptoms and goes away. But sometimes, HPV can cause genital warts, which are minor bumps that can appear on the outside and inside of the vagina, the cervix (the opening to the uterus), or around the anus or throat. Genital warts can be spread to another person through sexual contact. If you have genital warts, they can be treated, but they never go away completely. If you don’t get them treated, you can pass the virus on to another person. HPV can also lead to cancer. About 27,000 women in the U.S. get cervical cancer every year, and about half die. HPV causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. Women with cervical cancer sometimes have no symptoms, so regular Pap tests are the only way to protect yourself.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can infect men and women, but it’s more common in women. It’s spread easily during ***, and it can cause many long-term problems. But it’s easily treated with antibiotics. Early treatment is essential because it can protect you from other infections and infertility.

Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus. Usually, the herpes simplex virus only causes cold sores and painful blisters on the lips. But when the virus spreads to the genitals, it can cause similar symptoms. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. The overwhelming majority of people who have genital herpes have HSV-2. Genital herpes is a widespread STD. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genital herpes is the third most prevalent STD in the United States.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, also known as “the clap,” is a bacterial infection that has been around for at least 2,000 years. Most people with gonorrhea don’t have symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may notice a burning sensation when urinating, a greenish discharge from your vagina or penis, or pain in your testicles. These symptoms usually go away on their own. Some people get a painful inflammation of their epididymis, the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the vas deferens. This condition, called epididymitis, can also cause fever, chills, and pain in the lower back.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Health care providers can cure syphilis with antibiotics, but it goes through four stages of progression if it’s not treated. The first stage is a painless sore that appears on the genitals or around the mouth. The second stage is a rash, flu-like symptoms, body aches, and headaches. The third stage causes permanent damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. The last stage is a slow, painful death.

HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a severe and life-threatening virus that attacks the body’s immune system, making it much harder for the body to fight infections and certain cancers. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Once someone is infected with HIV, they have it for life. That’s why it’s so important to get tested and learn your status for your health and your partner’s. If you have HIV, getting treatment as soon as possible is essential. Treatment has come a long way, so the sooner you get it, the better. With early diagnosis and treatment, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get tested as soon as possible.

How to protect yourself from STDs?

Protecting yourself from STDs is essential, so you should always use protection like a condom (even if you’re on the pill). But sometimes, no matter how careful you are, a condom breaks. If you think you could have been exposed, get tested as soon as possible. If you’re diagnosed with an STD, talk to your partner and get treated.

How Can You Get Tested?

There are three simple ways to get tested for STDs. Visit your healthcare provider, use over-the-counter medicine, or get tested by your local clinic. The choice is yours, but all three options provide similar results. Your healthcare provider is the most reliable resource for STD testing. They’ll be able to explain your options and answer questions you may have. They can also test for other common health issues, like cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid problems.