Sexually transmitted diseases are also known as sexually transmitted infections, both are generally abbreviated as STDs or STIs.

As a Sexual Health Specialist, I have largely seen the incidence rate of sexually transmitted disease rise in the last decade.

Infact, a recent report by the World Health Organization states that globally, there are over 1 million new STD diagnoses each day.


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Many people get confused about the terminology around sexually transmitted diseases, particularly around the difference between STDs and STIs, they are pretty much the same thing. STIs were previously referred to as STDs, however scientists over the years have decided to take away the word disease and replace it with the word infection.


What Are The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases?


It is reported by the WHO that as of June 2019, the most common sexually transmitted diseases are:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Syphilis

The WHO reports that 1 in 25 people have at least one of the four listed sexually transmitted diseases as above. WHO states that there are 376 million new sexually transmitted disease cases each year.

Another prevalent sexually transmitted disease is HPV (human papillomavirus), it is reported that the majority of people who are sexually active will contract HPV at some point in their lifetime. According to the Centers Of Disease Control And Prevention, 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.

Let’s talk a look at some quick facts on the most common sexually transmitted diseases.


Chlamydia


What type of sexually transmitted disease is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease, caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis.

How do you get it?
You can get chlamydia through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

How long does it take to show up on an STD test?
Chlamydia may take 1-3 weeks to show up on a test, though it may take years for symptoms to become apparent.

What is the treatment for chlamydia?
Oral antibiotics


Gonorrhea


What type of sexually transmitted disease is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease, caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

How do you get it?
You can get gonorrhea through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

How long does it take to show up on an STD test?
Gonorrhea may take 2-5 days to show up on a test, though it may take 30 days for symptoms to become apparent.

What is the treatment for gonorrhea?
Antibiotics received orally and via injection


Trichomoniasis


What type of sexually transmitted disease is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a parasitic sexually transmitted disease, caused by the parasite trichomonas vaginalis.

How do you get it?
You can get trichomoniasis through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

How long does it take to show up on an STD test?
Trichomoniasis may take 1-4 weeks to show up on a test, though it may take 28 days plus for symptoms to become apparent.

What is the treatment for trichomoniasis?
Oral antibiotics


Syphilis


What type of sexually transmitted disease is syphilis?
Syphilis is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease, caused by the bacterium treponema pallidum.

How do you get it?
You can get syphilis through vaginal, oral and anal sex, however, it is also contracted easily through skin to skin contact if you have active chancres on the skin.

How long does it take to show up on an STD test?
Syphilis may take 90 days to show up on a test, though symptoms of syphilis may take an extended period of time to become noticeable, and are dependant on the stage and severity of your syphilis diagnosis.

What is the treatment for syphilis?
Antibiotics, most commonly penicillin, administered via injection.


HPV


What type of sexually transmitted disease is HPV?
HPV or human papillomavirus is a viral sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by the human papillomavirus.

How do you get it?
You can get HPV through vaginal or anal sex.

How long does it take to show up on an STD test?
HPV may take years to show up on a test as the may develop over a long period of time. The symptoms of HPV may take years to develop and it is dependent on the type of HPV contracted.

What is the treatment for HPV?
The treatment for HPV depends on the strain of HPV contracted. There are a number of topical medications and in other instances, warts or lesions will be treated by a physician. In instances where the HPV virus has developed into cancer, treatment will largely depend on advice as set out by your physician.


Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases largely vary of the type of sexually transmitted disease you have contracted and the length of time that you have been living with a certain STD.

It’s important to always remember that it’s possible to contract a sexually transmitted disease from someone who appears perfectly healthy and isn’t presenting with any signs or symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that men are more likely to experience symptoms (especially for chlamydia and gonorrhea) than women and women are less likely to notice their symptoms.

The most common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases in men and women include:

Men

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bumps on the genitals or anus
  • Ulcers on the genitals or anus
  • Unusual discharge or drip from the penis

Women

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bumps on the genitals or anus
  • Ulcers on the genitals or anus
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Consequences Of Untreated Sexually Transmitted Disease


There are a number of worrying consequences that may result from untreated sexually transmitted diseases.

The fact that symptoms are often scarce highlights the very real need for regular screening.

If you have been living with a sexually transmitted disease for an extended period of time, you are at a higher risk for health complications down the line.

Some of the most common consequences of an untreated sexually transmitted disease include:

Becoming infertile
Preventable and curable sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are the leading causes of a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (P.I.D), this condition causes inflammation in the genital tract, which may damage the fallopian tubes leading to conception complications and infertility, particularly in women. You also have a higher risk of suffering from tubal and ectopic pregnancies if you have a sexually transmitted disease.

Pregnancy complications
Congenital sexually transmitted disease arise when the active condition is passed from mother to child, either during pregnancy or childbirth, this is particularly common in conditions such as syphilis and herpes. Sexual health screening is recommended for those who are trying to get pregnant to rule out pregnancy complications down the line. It is very important to attend regular screening when you are trying to conceive.

Increasing your risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases
If you have an existing sexually transmitted disease, your likelihood of contracting another sexually transmitted disease increases, especially in the case of syphilis and herpes which involve open lesions or sores. These openings on the body leads to higher vulnerability and greater access points for other infections, particularly HIV.

Increasing your risk of developing other health complications
There are a number of health complications that may arise as a result of sexually transmitted diseases due to the fact that your immune system is weakened when you are carrying an infection.

Infecting your present and future partners
When we are involved in a sexual relationship, it is our responsibility to our partners to be honest about our sexual health status. It is also our responsibility to continuously get screened for sexually transmitted diseases. Keep the lines of communication open with your partner, maybe even consider getting tested together to make the process easier.


How To Test For Sexually Transmitted Disease


You can test for a sexually transmitted disease through sample testing of blood, urine and cell scraps via swabs.

You can get tested for sexually transmitted diseases by visiting your physician’s office, attending a sexual health clinic or by taking an at home sexual health test.

LetsGetChecked offer a full suite of testing options that offer everything from a basic check up to a fully insightful screening.

It is now possible to take a capillary sample at home which will offer the same quality results, as you would expect in a physician's office. A capillary sample requires just a small prick of the finger. It is a lot less painful and a lot more convenient than venous samples (blood taken from a vein in your arm with a syringe).

LetsGetChecked have carved a pathway from the delivery of the test to your door to the delivery of your test to the same laboratories that we use as doctors, meaning that now you can test yourself for STDs at home.

Capillary blood samples and venous samples are not identical types of blood, (they just refer to the way they are taken and the amount of blood taken i.e capillary samples are much smaller than venous samples). It has been found that both samples yield quality results if taken correctly.

Therefore, if for any reason you would prefer to test yourself for stds at home, as opposed to in a physician's office, you now have the ability to do so, just as accurately as you would in a physician's or doctor's office.

Now that you know how to test for sexually transmitted diseases, you’re probably asking, should you?

You should test for sexually transmitted diseases if:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

Get Tested For A Sexually Transmitted Disease


You can buy an at home STD test with LetsGetChecked and expect to have the full testing process carried out within one week.

We ensure that you will receive your results with 2-5 days of your samples reaching our accredited laboratories.


Our home STD tests include:


The Simple Test


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What does the Simple Test include?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

The Standard Test


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What does the Standard Test include?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

The Complete Test

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What does the Complete Test include?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gardnerella
  • Mycoplasma
  • Ureaplasma
  • Herpes Simplex I
  • Herpes Simplex II
  • HIV
  • Syphilis

Worried that you have a sexually transmitted disease? Contact us directly via live chat to learn more about our at home std testing options.


Read: At Home STD Testing: What You Need To Know Before You Pick A Test


Written by Dr. Dominic Rowley | Edited by Hannah Kingston