Don’t Know Your STDs? A Guide to the Infections You Should Know

The stigma around STDs is actually worse than the STDs themselves.

You’ve probably heard all the horror stories about STDs — that they will leave your body to rot from the inside out, or that they last for your whole life, or that you can get them by various methods of simple touching. That is not the case! The stigma around STDs is actually worse than the STDs themselves. As long as you’ve done your research, and are actively trying to keep yourself healthy, as well as your partner’s healthy, you’ll be doing just fine. 

In fact, most STDs can be cured relatively easily. The actual STD testing would likely be the most nerve-wracking part, and even then, it isn’t so nerve-wracking as it is thorough. And if you’re nervous about getting tested at a clinic or with your regular doctor, then there is the option to test yourself at home, which is a discreet way to stay sexually healthy and get the results as soon as possible. These kits are also quite simple to find as well, like

What you should know when it comes to STD testing is what you should be looking for. If you don’t know which STDs are being passed, what the symptoms of each are, and how they can be cured, then you won’t know which test to take and what your possible symptoms indicate. Here are the STDs you need to know about. 


The CDC estimates that 67% of Americans under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with HSV-1 (1), which is oral herpes, while almost 48% of Americans from ages 14-49 have been diagnosed with HSV-1 (2), which is genital herpes. 

Herpes has quite a stigma attached to it. Herpes has been spread since before the ancient Greeks, though it wasn’t on record until then. Herpes is spread through skin to skin contact with an infected person, as well as oral contact. Both types of Herpes can be contracted through oral, vaginal, and anal sex with an infected person. You are especially at risk if you have sexual contact with someone who is experiencing a breakout, though it can still be passed from partner to partner regardless of a visible breakout. Some people aren’t aware of their Herpes infection until they’ve given it to one of their partners. 

Many people who have herpes don’t know it. It’s estimated that 1 out of 6 people have genital herpes, and 90% of them don’t know that they do. Because Herpes has a lifelong impact, and is incurable, once you’ve contracted the virus, you must take further steps to continue as a sexually healthy person. There is a medication that can be taken by a partner to reduce the risk of passing the disease. If an outbreak occurs, then it’s best to stay abstinent for the entirety of the outbreak. 


Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States for both women and men. It is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral contact with an infected person. Many people who test positive for chlamydia had no symptoms before getting tested, so it’s important that people who think they’ve been exposed after having unprotected sex get tested as soon as possible. The longer the disease inhabits the body, the more havoc in can wreck. 

Chlamydia, though easily treatable, holds a great risk to women’s health especially. Chlamydia can affect a woman’s fertility, as well as the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy. If a woman remains untreated for chlamydia, it can be very difficult or even impossible for her to get pregnant later in life. An ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb) can also be life-threatening for both the woman and the child. During childbirth, a woman can pass the chlamydia infection to her baby as well. This can cause other health risks for the child. 

Chlamydia is treated with a simple prescription. Once it’s taken, the once-infected person should be sure to tell their previous partners of their status, and stay away from sexual activity for a week, so the disease can leave the body and not be further spread. 


Gonorrhea is also easily treatable. Similarly, to most STDs it is spread through oral, anal, and vaginal contact. However, gonorrhea affects other parts of the body as well as the genitals. Many of those who’ve contracted gonorrhea had physical difficulties with the throat, rectum, and cervix. Gonorrhea has also grown progressively more resistant to drug treatment. 

Gonorrhea is most commonly spread in people aged 15-24. It is also a very common STD, though not as common as chlamydia. Some indications of the contraction of gonorrhea are a yellow or white discharge, bleeding between periods, and pain or burning when urinating. Some people report no symptoms at all, so it’s best to get tested regardless of visible symptoms. 

If you don’t get tested, and the gonorrhea progresses in the body, then you will be at risk for even more serious health problems, so it’s worth getting tested. As with chlamydia, the infected person should wait seven days after taking medication to cure gonorrhea before having any sexual contact with a partner. 


HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, HIV was a death sentence to those that contracted it. Now that there are drugs that have been developed to prevent the spreading of it, someone who contracts HIV can now live a long and healthy life. They just have to take their sexual health very seriously. 

There are three stages in the progression of the virus. Stage one is acute HIV infection, which will occur two to four weeks after the contraction of the virus. The person will experience flu-like symptoms. 

People who’ve had gonorrhea, syphilis, and/or herpes, are at a greater risk to contract HIV. Those who’ve already been diagnosed also have a greater risk in contracting the aforementioned STDs. 

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