What are STDs?

STDs is the acronym for sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are passed from one person to another during sexual contact. The term STD is also known as STI (sexually transmitted infection). Some STDs can also be passed to another person through other means, such as through blood transfusions or from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

STDs are very common, especially among young people ages 15 to 24. There are about 19 million new cases of STDs in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Source: CDC).

STDs include:

  • Chancroid

  • Chlamydia

  • Genital herpes

  • Genital warts

  • Gonorrhea

  • Hepatitis


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • Pubic lice (crabs)

  • Scabies

  • Syphilis

  • Trichomoniasis

Most STDs are highly preventable. If diagnosed early, some STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be quickly and easily treated and cured before serious complications develop.

Other STDs, such as HIV/AIDS and genital herpes, are not curable, but prompt diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or delay the onset of serious complications, improve the quality of life, and minimize the spread of the disease to others.

Any person who engages in sexual activity can contract and pass on an STD. This includes heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men and women.

Untreated STDs can lead to serious complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, opportunistic infections, and complications in newborns. Using safer sex practices, seeking regular medical care, and seeking early, regular prenatal care can help reduce the risk of serious complications of STDs.


What are the symptoms of STDs?

Symptoms of STDs vary depending on the type of STD and the individual case. Some STDs have no symptoms early in the disease – some never generate symptoms. However, serious permanent damage to the reproductive tissues, infertility, and other complications can occur even when no symptoms are present.

Symptoms that affect the genitals and reproductive organs include:

Read more about stdssymptoms


What causes STDs?

STDs are caused by infections of certain organisms:

  • Bacteria cause chancroid, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, and syphilis.

  • Viruses cause hepatitis, herpes, HIV/AIDS, HPV, and genital warts.

  • Parasites cause pubic lice (crabs), scabie... Read more about stdscauses


How are STDs treated?

Some STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, are easily curable in their early stages. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can eliminate the risk of developing serious complications.

Certain STDs, such as genital herpes, HIV/AIDS and HPV, are not curable, but promptdiagnosis and treatment can help to reduce or delay the onset of serious complications, improve the quality of li... Read more about stdstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Top Features in Sexual Health

Popular Sexual Health Slide Show

15 Ways To Get Better Medicine

People who are actively involved in their medical care stay healthier, recover quicker when they're ill, and live longer, healthier lives.