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The 6 Most Common STDs in Men

You can prevent STDs. Here’s how.


Gonorrhea is an STD that just won’t go away -- it remains the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States. In 2005, 339,593 new cases of gonorrhea were reported; experts say the true number of new infections was approximately twice that.

In men, the symptoms of gonorrhea include pus-like discharge from the urethra, with frequent, burning urination. Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to epididymitis, a painful condition of the testicles that can cause infertility. In women, gonorrhea is a major cause of pelvic inflammatory disease and, like chlamydia, can lead to infertility. Having a case of gonorrhea makes you three to five times more likely to acquire HIV if you’re exposed to the HIV virus.

Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. But researchers at the CDC are tracking a worrisome rise in drug-resistant strains. As a result, the treatment options are becoming more limited than in the past -- one more good reason to avoid this bug.


About 2.2% of adult Americans are believed to carry chlamydia. Among sexually active men, the number is much higher. A 2003 study of young men entering a national job-training program found that 8.2% were infected with chlamydia. Among those aged 20 to 24 -- the most likely to be whooping it up  -- the prevalence was even higher.

Although often symptomless in men, chlamydia can cause inflammation of the testicles, prostate and urethra. The consequences for women are more serious. Untreated infections are a leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies, and sometimes infertility.

Thanks to expanded screening for this easy-to-get bacterial infection, more people who carry the bug are being diagnosed and treated with antibiotics. That should help reduce transmission of chlamydia. But many people with the infection still don’t know they have it. Although almost a million U.S. cases of chlamydia were diagnosed in 2005, experts estimate that there are actually 2.8 million new infections each year.

That means almost two out of three people infected with this bug don’t know they have it -- and go can go on spreading it.Experts are especially concerned that men who are unaware they carry chlamydia are infecting and sometimes re-infecting their female partners. A recent study found that one in eight women treated for chlamydia becomes re-infected within a year.

Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2)

Good news on this bad guy: Herpes simplex virus-2, which can cause genital herpes sores, is on the decline, according to the latest numbers. Its presence, as measured in blood tests of adults age 49 and younger, has fallen a dramatic 19% in the past 10 years.

Several antiviral drugs are used to treat herpes simplex virus. A vaccine is currently being tested in a large nationwide study by the National Institutes of Health.

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