Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

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There is only one guaranteed method of avoiding a sexually transmitted disease...


Since that seems to be impossible for the continuation of the species (and it's not much fun either), condom use is the next best way to protect yourself from disease.

When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are very effective in preventing a variety of STDs, including HIV infection. Multiple studies have demonstrated a strong protective effect of condom use. In America, condoms are regulated as medical devices, and as such they are subject to random testing by the Food and Drug Administration. Every latex condom manufactured in the United States is tested electronically for holes before packaging. Condom breakage rates are low in the United States, no higher than 2 per 100 condoms used, according to the American condom council.

The following are some of the more nasty STDs you should watch our for...


Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States.

It causes an estimated 4 million infections annually, mostly among teens and young adults. In women, untreated infections can progress to involve the upper reproductive tract and may result in serious complications. About 75 percent of women infected with chlamydia have few or no symptoms (which is one of the reasons for its spread!), and without testing and treatment the infection may persist for as long as 15 months. Without treatment, 20-40 percent of women with chlamydia may develop pelvic inflammatory disease. (qv.)

In America, an estimated 1 in 10 adolescent girls and 1 in 20 women of reproductive age are infected.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotics. Syphilis cases increased dramatically from 1985 to 1990 among women of all ages. An analysis of 1993 data has shown that American rates of syphilis were higher among female than among male adolescents: rates among females were more than twice as high as rates among males in the 15-19 age group. American black women have syphilis rates that are 7 times greater than the female population as a whole.

More than 3,000 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 1993. Such infections among infants are largely preventable if women receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment during prenatal care. Death of the or newborn infant occurs in up to 40 percent of pregnant women who have untreated syphilis.


Gonorrhea is a common bacteria STD that can be treated with antibiotics. While gonorrhea rates among adults have declined in the United States, rates among adolescents have risen or remained unchanged. Adolescent females ages 15-19 have the highest rates of gonorrhea. An estimated 50 percent of women with gonorrhea have no symptoms. Without early screening and treatment, 10 to 40 percent of women with gonorrhea will develop PID.(qv.)

Pelvic Inflamatory Disease

PID refers to upper reproductive tract infection in women, which often develop when STDs go untreated or are inadequately treated. Each year PID and its complications affect more than 750,000 women. PID can cause chronic pelvic pain or harm to the reproductive organs. Permanent damage to the fallopian tubes can result from a single episode of PID and is even more common after a second or third episode. Damage to the fallopian tubes is the only preventable cause of infertility. As much as 30 percent of infertility in women may be related to preventable complications of past STDs.

One potentially fatal complication of PID is Ectopic pregnancy, an abnormal condition that occurs when a fertilized egg implants in a location other than inside a women's uterus--often in a fallopian tube. It is that ectopic pregnancy has increased about five-fold over a 20-year period. Among African American women, ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Genital herpes is a disease caused by herpes simplex virus. The disease may recur periodically and has no cure. Scientists have estimated that about 30 million persons in the United State may have genital HSV infection. Most infected persons never recognize the symptoms of genital herpes; some will have symptoms shortly after infection and never again. A minority of those infected will have recurrent episodes of genital sores. Many cases of genital herpes are acquired from people who do not know they are infected or who had no symptoms at the time of the sexual contact.

Acyclovir is a drug that can help to control the symptons of HSV, but it is not a cure.

Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus is a virus that sometimes causes genital warts but in many cases infects people without causing noticeable symptoms. Concern about HPV has increased in recent years after several studies showed that HPV infection is associated with the development of cervical cancer.

Approximately 25 types of HPV can infect the genital area. These types are divided into "high risk" and "low risk" groups based on whether they are associated with cancer. Infection with a "high risk" type of HPV is one risk factor for cervical cancer, which causes 4,500 deaths among women each year.

No cure for HPV infection exists.

For more information about diseases, please check out The Diseases Main Page

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