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3 Minutes Read

What Is An STD Or An STI?

A sexually transmitted disease or a sexually transmitted infection, STD and STI, respectively, is what the name suggests: a disease or an infection that is transmitted through sexual intercourse. Most STDs can be contracted from any or all forms of unprotected sexual intercourse. However, sex is not the only route of transmission for this group of diseases.


There are almost 20 identified STDs that are known to infect humans caused by viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. All of these diseases are transmitted from sexual intercourse, among other routes. Although all of these STDs are common, some are more prevalent than others. HPV, Herpes, Syphilis, Chlamydia, HIV, and Gonorrhea are the most common types of STDs in the U.S. and also worldwide.

All STDs share a standard route of transmission, but they have different characteristics regarding patient presentation—genital herpes, Syphilis, and HPV present as genital warts. Hepatitis B and C present as an inflammation of the liver. HIV lowers the host's immune response and manifests as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Note that it is also possible for STDs to remain undetectable and not cause any symptoms. Such cases are called dormant cases or carriers of that particular disease.

However, despite there being distinct symptoms, most of these diseases do have some symptoms in common. These common groups of symptoms are different in both men and women and can help identify the sexually transmitted nature of the disease.


General symptoms of many STDs in men include:

  • Painful sores/blisters/rash on the genitalia 
  • Similar blisters or sores on buttocks, thighs, and even around the mouth
  • Pain during urination
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Unusual discharge from the penis
  • Swollen testicles

General symptoms of STDs in women are similar to those in men. There are similar blisters or rash on the female genitalia and also on the buttocks and thighs, depending on the particular disease. Blisters can also form in or around the oral cavity. There can also be pus or foul-smelling discharge from the vagina. Sores or blisters on and around the genitalia may cause discomfort during urination and sex.


The major route of transmission for STDs is sexual intercourse. All kinds of unprotected sex – including oral, anal, and vaginal, can lead to an STD infection. Moreover, the transmission of STDs through sex is increased in particular situations, such as an already existing STD infection or a generalized immunodeficiency due to chronic disease. 

However, sexual routes are not the only way for STDs to be transmitted. These infections occur when the infected blood or bodily fluids such as semen or vaginal fluid come into contact with the fluids of another person. Infected blood can come into contact with another person's blood through multiple means. For example, tattooing, getting piercings, and blood transfusions all carry a significant risk of transmitting STDs from an infected person too many others. The reason is that the equipment used in these procedures comes directly in contact with the infected blood. Careless cleaning of this equipment can lead to the massive spread of a particular STD.

Other ways through which STDs can be transferred include:

  • Sharing drug injection needles
  • Sharing personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes
  • Breastfeeding
  • Transmission of STDs to the unborn baby from a pregnant mom


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