The term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is used to refer to a condition passed from one person to another through sexual contact. A person can contract an STD by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STD.

An STD may also be called a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD).

That doesn’t mean sex is the only way STDs are transmitted. Depending on the specific STD, infections may also be transmitted through sharing needles and breastfeeding.

Symptoms of STDs in men

It’s possible to contract an STD without developing symptoms. But some STDs cause obvious symptoms. In men, common symptoms include:

  • pain or discomfort during sex or urination
  • sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth
  • unusual discharge or bleeding from the penis
  • painful or swollen testicles

Specific symptoms can vary, depending on the STD.

Symptoms of STDs in women

In many cases, STDs don’t cause noticeable symptoms. When they do, common STD symptoms in women include:

  • pain or discomfort during sex or urination
  • sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the vagina, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth
  • unusual discharge or bleeding from the vagina
  • itchiness in or around the vagina

The specific symptoms can vary from one STD to another.

Nigerian Centre for Disease Control estimates that there are millions of people living with different sexually transmitted diseases and there are also millions with new STD infections in the country each year.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD. Some groups are more affected by STDs and their outcomes are:

Adolescents and Young Adults

Gay, Bisexual, & other Men who have Sex with Men

Pregnant Women and Infants

Racial and Ethnic Minorities 

STDs ARE preventable. There are steps you can take to keep yourself and your partner(s) healthy.

Here’s How You Can Avoid Giving or Getting an STD: 

1. Practice Abstinence

The surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex. This means not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

2. Use Condoms

Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can help you avoid STDs. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STDs. You still can get certain STDs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s skin even when using a condom.

Most people say they used a condom the first time they ever had sex, but when asked about the last 4 weeks, less than a quarter said they used a condom every time.

3. Have Fewer Partners

Agree to only have sex with one person who agrees to only have sex with you. Make sure you both get tested to know for sure that neither of you has an STD. This is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs.

4. Get Vaccinated

The most common STD can be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.

Who should get the HPV vaccine? All boys and girls ages 11 to 12, but the vaccine can start at age 9. Everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already.

5. Talk With Your Partner

Talk with your sex partner(s) about STDs and staying safe before having sex. It might be uncomfortable to start the conversation, but protecting your health is your responsibility.

6. Get Tested

Many STDs don’t have symptoms, but they can still cause health problems. Talk with your health care provider. Search for CDC recommended tests. Find a location to get tested for STDs.

The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested.

If You Test Positive…

Getting an STD is not the end!

Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. If either you or your partner is infected with an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected.

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