Could You Have an STD — And Not Know It?
WebMD can help you know what to watch for
Symptoms: Many people will
have no sores or minimal symptoms. But during an outbreak, women with
genital herpes may experience small red bumps,
blisters, or open sores on areas near or on the vagina along with
vaginal discharge, fever,
muscle aches, pain during urination, and itching,
swollen glands in the genital area. Sores heal after 2-4 weeks, and most
symptoms are relieved. Symptoms can recur, however, sometimes in just weeks or
months after the last outbreak, particularly when you are under stress.
Symptoms vs. exposure time: Symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of
Transmission: Herpes is frequently passed through sexual contact, and
it is particularly contagious during an outbreak of open sores. But if your sex
partner has the condition, be aware that you can also contract herpes in the
days and hours before your partner experiences a breakout if you are intimate
during this time.
Treatment: There is no cure for genital herpes, since the virus will
always be in your body. But there are drugs that can shorten
outbreaks, make them less severe, or even prevent them from occurring.
Consequences if left untreated: Pregnant women can pass the virus on
to their children during delivery. Herpes infections present during birth are
one of the leading causes of blindness in newborns. It is important that you tell your
obstetrician if you have had a previous infection. Sometimes a C-section
birth is necessary to insure your baby is safe from infection.
HPV and genital warts
At least half of sexually active Americans will contract genital HPV at
some point in their lives. Out of the 100 or so strains of the virus, there are about 40 strains of genital HPV,
and fewer still are linked to an increased risk of cervical
cancer. Other HPV-related cancers include vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer,
Symptoms: Some women have no symptoms. Those who do may have
warts in the genital area or on the inner thighs and lesions on the cervix
or in the vagina. Some strains that cause no symptoms can also increase the
risk of cervical cancer - one reason it is important for all sexually active
women to have routine Pap test
screening for cervical cancer, even if no symptoms are present.
Symptoms vs. exposure time: When warts appear, they can form anywhere
from weeks to months to even years after contact with an infected person.
Transmission: Sexually transmitted strains of HPV are passed through
vaginal, anal, and possibly oral sex. They can also be spread by direct skin-to-skin
contact in the genital area.
Treatment: There is no treatment or cure for HPV, although a new
vaccine to prevent HPV infection is now available. The vaccine is approved for girls and women age 9 to
26 years. The vaccine prevents transmission of four strains of the
virus. These strains are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers and
90 percent of genital warts.