Most Common STDs for Women and Men
Syphilis is a tricky disease with four stages. In the primary stage, the main symptom is a sore. Sometimes syphilis is called the "great imitator" because the sore can look like a cut, an ingrown hair, or a harmless bump. The secondary stage starts with a rash on your body, followed by sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus.
Symptoms usually disappear in the third, or latent, stage. This stage can last for years or the rest of your life. Only about 15% of people with untreated syphilis will develop the final stage. In the late stage, it causes organ and nerve damage. It can also cause problems in your brain.
Your doctor can give you antibiotics to treat syphilis. The earlier treatment starts, the fewer antibiotics you'll need and the more quickly they work.
Both strains of the herpes virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2, can cause genital herpes, but usually the culprit is HSV-2. The main symptom of herpes is painful blisters around the penis, vagina, or anus. But you might get blisters inside your vagina or anus where you can't see or feel them. Not everyone who has herpes gets blisters.
Herpes is easy to catch. All it takes is skin-to-skin contact, including areas that a condom doesn't cover. You're most contagious when you have blisters, but you don't need them to pass the virus along.
Because herpes is a virus, you can't cure it. But you can take medication to manage it.
More women than men get trichomoniasis, which is caused by a tiny parasite. Men and women can give it to each other through penis-vagina contact. Women can give it to each other when their genital areas touch. Only about 30% of people with trichomoniasis have symptoms including itching, burning, or sore genitals. You might also see a smelly, clear, white, yellowish, or greenish discharge.
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It's passed through body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. You can get it by having vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected person without a condom, or by sharing a needle with someone who is infected. You can't get HIV from saliva or by kissing.
Symptoms of HIV infection are vague. They can feel like the flu, with muscle aches, fatigue, or a slight fever. You could also lose weight or have diarrhea. The only sure way to tell if you've been infected is to get your saliva or blood tested.
HIV can take years to destroy your immune system. Past a certain point, your body loses its ability to fight off infections. There's no cure for AIDS, but powerful drugs can help people with HIV/AIDS live long lives.