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Sex is still very unspoken in many countries, making it even more difficult for people to talk about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. Here you will find out what you need to know about STDs1 and find out What is the most common STD? Other STDs are dangerous or must be cured in time to prevent further issues. Also, you will get to know more about preventive measures for STDs or STIs.
1. What Is the Most Common STD?
Let’s begin with gaining a better understanding of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections and STDs before moving on to the topic of what is the most common STD.
1.1. What Are STD?
STD is an acronym for Sexually Transmitted Diseases that are caused using sexual contact with your partner. Bacteria cause them, or viruses exchanged between sexual partners during vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with an infected person. Unprotected sex is the reason for the increased rate of STDs in young adults.
Also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), earlier called STDs, have been re-termed as STIs because of the better and more accurate meaning that defines sexually transmitted issues. When bacteria or viruses are involved in the problems one faces, it becomes an infection for which one’s immune system prepares itself to fight back.
Moreover, infections get transmitted from one person to another and are mostly silent. People suffer silently without knowing they are infected because STDs do not usually show symptoms. So, whether, say, STD or STI, the point here is the same. The problem here discussing is sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
1.2. Spread Through
Even when we talk about what is the most common STD, the dispersion happens through these means:
- Vaginal sex
- Oral Sex
- Anal Sex
1.3. Noticeable Symptoms
Many STDs are asymptomatic, but many show some noticeable symptoms. You will find out about these natures further in the article while discussing what the most common STD is. The following symptoms are noticeable in the symptomatic STD:
- Burning sensation
- Vaginal Discharge
- Dark Urine
- Abdominal Pain
- Pelvic Pain
2. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – the Most Common STD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was found that around 43 million HPV infections were reported in the year 2018, most of the infected persons from the age group of teens and early twenties in the United States.
A sexually active person is more prone to STDs or STIs. Teenage is the period in which hormonal changes make them sexually active, and hence they are at greater risk of getting infected. Also, they lack sexual and STD knowledge. They do not understand the importance of safe sex, which leads to vulnerability. Around 26 million new STDs were reported in 2018, including young adults aged 15-24 in the United States.
It is mainly caused due to vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected sexual partner. It is challenging to track because it can develop symptoms even after many years later having sex with a person infected by the virus. Also, sometimes people carry the virus within them without getting noticed at the early stages because of its asymptomatic nature and pass it on to their partners with close skin contact during intercourse.2
2.2. Health Complications
The health complications that might occur in HPV infected person are:
- Genital warts
- Cervical Cancer
Further, it can potentially lead genital warts3 to cancer in many infected people. HPV is not a usual virus; it has the potential to go away on its own in two years, whereas it might cause mentioned health complications if not cured on its own.
- Practice Safe Sex: The best way to avoid STDs, using condoms reduces risk. Safe sex is the best option to prevent transmission.
- HPV Vaccine: Teens of the age group 11-15 are recommended to take the vaccine, but if not accepted, it is recommended to take it by the age of 26 because, after this period, the effect of the vaccine reduces among individuals. Also, it is required for old age people to consult their doctors before getting the vaccine at such an old age.
- Cervical Cancer Screening: A pap test helps point out the cell changes in the cervix that might lead to cervix cancer. It also points to trichomoniasis4, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), and cytomegalovirus. Further, it depends on the age at which the screen test is recommended to you, for instance:
- If you are in your 20s, then only a pap smear test within approx. Three years is recommended.
- If you are in the age group of 30-65 years, then the doctor might suggest any of three options, that is, HPV test only, co-testing that involves HPV and Pap test both, and Pap test only.
3. Other Than HPV – What Is the Most Common STD?
Other than HPV, many other STDs5 are common among sexually active people through bacteria or viruses. So, let us see what is the most common STD that spreads through bacterial and viral infections:
3.1. Common Bacterial Infection
Bacteria such as Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum, and more are responsible for bacterial infections. Let’s see what the most common STD transmitted through bacteria:
It can damage the reproductive system and lead young women to ectopic pregnancy or, even worse, infertility. The Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria are to blame for this condition, which primarily manifests itself in the patient’s cervix, rectum, and throat. It can also infect men.
You may notice pain during sex, peeing, foul odor, vaginal secretion, and more in women. While in men, milky or pus-like discharge from the penis, pain or bleeding in nearby parts of the anus, and swelling in the testicles is also visible.
It shows similar symptoms to chlamydia and syphilis and can infect both men and women. It affects the rectum, urethra, cervix, or throat area in the body. Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria are responsible for gonorrhea.
Sexual fluids cause infection; hence, oral sex is more prone to it. Dental dams can be used for safe sex practices that prevent direct contact between the genitals and the mouth.
3.1.3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Chlamydia or Gonorrhea6, if not appropriately treated, leads to PID that directly affects reproductive parts such as the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries. This can also lead women to ectopic pregnancy or even infertility.
Since it arises from other common STDs, it has similar symptoms, such as unusual discharge from the vagina, burning sensation during sex or peeing, and pelvic pain.
Treponema pallidum7 bacteria is responsible for syphilis, which leaves a sore where it has infected the person, usually the genital area, mouth, anus, and lips. Chancre, the small sore, is the first stage out of four stages of syphilis.
It has noticeable symptoms, namely painless soreness, skin rashes, fever, and more. Even after many years, the initial infection has the potential to cause problems like paralysis. The blood test is the easiest way to check for syphilis because its antibodies remain for years.
3.2. Common Viral Infection
Viruses such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Herpes Simplex Virus, and more are responsible for transmitting the STD from one partner to another. Let’s see what is the most common STD spread via viral infections:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a viral infection that affects the immune system, if left untreated, leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)8, a dangerous chronic syndrome. It disables the ability of your immune system to fight against diseases by reducing the production of antibodies.
HIV gets transmitted through infected fluids such as the vaginal, semen, and blood. It is uncurable though some medications may reduce the progression. The following are the stages of HIV:
- Seroconversion Sickness – a person who suffers from mild infection, sometimes mistaken as flu, but severe infection may require to seek doctor’s consultation. This is encountered soon after contracting HIV.
- Asymptomatic Stage – this is the point where the virus starts affecting the immune system slowly without getting into the notice of the host for several years.
- Symptomatic Stage – ignoring the issues and not getting treated at an early stage leads to visible problems known as symptomatic.
- Last Stage – after years of untreated HIV leads to AIDs.
3.2.2. Genital Herpes
Formation of painful genital herpes that is fluid-filled bumps and needs to avoid touching them or the fluid to prevent any further transmission of herpes in different body parts. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is responsible for genital herpes that are of two types:
- type 1 (HSV-1)
- type 2 (HSV-2)
They are incurable. HSV-2 is a more common STD in women and people who have sex with multiple partners.
It is a situation in which a person’s liver gets inflated due to some tissue damage. It can turn out to be any of two: chronic or acute STD that affects your liver functioning. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are the most common and main hepatitis viruses that cause many deaths and serious injuries. Hepatitis B and C are the main STDs, whereas others get transmitted through contaminated food or water sources.
They are incurable, though, and the Hepatitis B vaccine may prevent the spread of the infected once only a few precautions may prevent further transmission but can not cure it.
4. Preventive Measures
Now, you are aware of what is the most common STD and its health complications and more. Anyone can adopt the following preventive measures to get prevention against STDs:
- Use condoms every time during sex
- Use of Dental dams during oral sex9
- Avoid numerous sexual contact
- Get tested regularly for STDs
- Get vaccinated for STDs such as HPV
5. Final Note
Many people want to gain information about STDs and safe sex, but they cannot get the courage to talk to someone in person and hence, find it more convenient to find themselves via the internet. There is no issue in enhancing your knowledge of what is the most common std through the internet because it is meant for this purpose. But the point is that you must consult a doctor if you feel uneasy or something unusual. Before that, it is essential to let your sexual partner know the problem you are facing.
These problems are not meant to hide. Instead, get up and speak out about your issues so that the doctor can find a way out and provide you with the best solution they can before it gets too late for you. Be friendly to yourself first, secondly, your partner, and most importantly, your doctor. Stay Safe! Stay Healthy!
- Thomas, James C., and Myra J. Tucker. “The development and use of the concept of a sexually transmitted disease core.” Journal of Infectious Diseases 174.Supplement_2 (1996): S134-S143. ↩︎
- Kerkar, Shilpa C., et al. “Human papillomavirus infection in asymptomatic population.” Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 2.1 (2011): 7-11. ↩︎
- Steben, Marc, and Suzanne M. Garland. “Genital warts.” Best practice & research Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology 28.7 (2014): 1063-1073. ↩︎
- Schwebke, Jane R., and Donald Burgess. “Trichomoniasis.” Clinical microbiology reviews 17.4 (2004): 794-803. ↩︎
- Yarbrough, Melanie L., and Carey-Ann D. Burnham. “The ABCs of STIs: an update on sexually transmitted infections.” Clinical chemistry 62.6 (2016): 811-823. ↩︎
- Shrier, Lydia A. “Bacterial sexually transmitted infections: gonorrhea, chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and syphilis.” Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins (2005): 565-614. ↩︎
- Norris, Steven J., David L. Cox, and George M. Weinstock. “Biology of Treponema pallidum: correlation of functional activities with genome sequence data.” Journal of molecular microbiology and biotechnology 3.1 (2001): 37-62. ↩︎
- Whiteside, Alan. HIV & AIDS: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, 2016. ↩︎
- Gutierrez, Daniel, et al. “Dental dams in dermatology: An underutilized barrier method of protection.” International Journal of Women’s Dermatology 8.1 (2022): e008. ↩︎