Sexually transmitted diseases, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), usually pass from one person to another through sexual contact. Most are fairly common, and effective treatment is available, especially in the early stages.
Some STIs are benign, but others can lead to severe complications if a person does not seek treatment.
HIV has other routes of transmission. For example, this STI can spread through the use of unsterilized drug needles, as well as through sexual contact.
Anyone can contract an STI, regardless of their sexual orientation and hygiene standards. Many STIs can transmit through nonpenetrative sexual activity.
This article looks at some common STIs, when to seek help, and how to prevent them.
Chlamydia results from an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a common infection that can spread through anal, vaginal, and oral sex. A pregnant woman can also transmit it to the baby during delivery.
Chlamydia does not usually produce symptoms, but it can result in infertility and other complications if a person does not receive treatment for it. It is easy to cure with early treatment.
If symptoms do occur, they may include a change in vaginal discharge and burning pain during urination.
Chlamydia can also affect the rectum, if the infection occurs as a result of anal sex or if the infection spreads from another area. This can lead to:
In those who do develop symptoms, these will usually appear 7–21 days after exposure.
Crabs, or pubic lice, usually attach to pubic hair. Sometimes, however, they can affect the hair in the armpits, mustache, beard, eyelashes, or eyebrows. They are very small and difficult to see, but a person will notice itching in the areas they affect.
The first stage in the life cycle will be the appearance of the eggs, which lasts 6–10 days. After hatching, the lice will look like tiny crabs. They need blood to survive and will live for around 2–3 weeks. In the last day or two, the females will lay more eggs, and the cycle will continue.
Pubic lice can spread from person to person during close physical contact, including sexual contact. They can also transmit via shared towels or bed linen. However, they cannot spread via toilet seats.
To remove pubic lice in the genital area, a person can apply a 1% permethrin solution or a similar product. These are available over the counter from drugstores and pharmacies. It is essential to follow the instructions precisely.
If pubic lice are affecting the hair near the eyes, the person may need a prescription medication.