Many Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have no symptoms and people can go years without realising they're infected.
It is important to understand and recognise the possible STD’s that can be transmitted both in men and women, as some can lead to complications down the line.
Plus – no-one wants to have to send that awkward text to an infected ex.
The most common STDs are easily treated when spotted early on – and testing is the first course of action if you have any concerns or have had unprotected sex.
We’ve put together the five most common STDs for men and women and included the signs and symptoms you should look out for.
1. HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
The most common of them all, HPV, affects nearly every sexually active person at some point in their life.
There are over 40 types of the HPV virus that can spread sexually, either through vaginal, benzac q anal or oral sex. It can also be spread through skin to skin contact so it is easily transmissible.
The majority of people with HPV experience no symptoms and never know they have it. It can be present, causing no harm and the body naturally gets rid of it on its own.
In some cases, it can cause infections in the mouth or throat or can cause genital warts.
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HPV can cause cervical cancer in women if left untreated, so is important for women to receive their cervical screenings.
The virus can then be detected and further treatment is given, if left untreated it can then develop into cervical cancer. Young girls are now offered a vaccine to protect them against HPV.
The second most common STD is Chlamydia caused by bacteria and is treated by antibiotics.
It is passed on through unprotected sex and can even be passed on to a baby if the woman is pregnant.
The best way to prevent Chlamydia is to use a condom during sex and to not share sex toys.
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Around 25% of women and 50% of men will experience symptoms. The most common symptom is discharge from the vagina or penis, or pain and burning when urinating.
Women can also experience bleeding in-between periods, pain in the tummy and bleeding after sex. Men could experience pain and swelling in the testicles.
Another common bacterial STD is Gonorrhea, a bacteria which can infect the entrance to the cervix, the urethra, the rectum and even the throat or eyes.
Often mistaken for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea has similar symptoms such as unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, pain or burning when you urinate.
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Most men will experience symptoms of Gonorrhea, however, only around 20% of women will experience symptoms.
The STD is easily transmitted between people through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex or from sharing sex toys.
This STD is a more complex disease with further complications if left untreated.
The symptoms include:
- Small, painless sores or ulcers, typically appearing on the penis, vagina or anus. These can also appear in the mouth
- Blotchy red rash, often on the hands or soles of the feet
- Small skin growths, similar to wars. These can develop on the vulva in women and around the anus in both men and women
- White patches in the mouth
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Other symptoms that can occur include, tiredness, headaches, joint pains, a fever, swollen glands in the neck, groin or armpits.
Syphilis is treated with antibiotics and it is best to start treatment as soon as possible.
If left untreated for years Syphilis can spread to the brain or other parts of the body causing organ or nerve damage.
There are two strains of herpes, virus 1 and virus 2, also known as Human alphaherpesvirus.
HSV-1 isn’t technically an STD – it is the virus that creates cold sores on the mouth. However, if someone who has a cold sore performs oral sex on someone else, that person could be at risk of it leading to genital herpes.
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HSV-2 is an STD called genital herpes which is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Symptoms of genital herpes include:
- Small blisters that can burst to leave red, open sores around genitals, anus, thighs or bottom
- Itching, burning or tingling around your genitals
- Pain when you pee
- Unusual vaginal discharge
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Symptoms of genital herpes may not appear for weeks or even years after coming into contact with it.
There is no cure for herpes but symptoms can clear up on their own and treatment is available to prevent blisters or to treat a recurring outbreak.
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