Three sexually transmitted diseases – chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – have reached the highest number of infected people. This is the fifth consecutive year of documenting the increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Figures of the STDs
The latest CDC figures, published Oct. 8 in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report 2018, show that in 2018:
Over 115,000 syphilis cases were reported, including more than 1,300 infections among newborns. Of those infants, 94 died – up from 77 deaths in 2017.
Gonorrhea infections increased by 5%, topping 580,000 cases—the highest number since 1991.
A record number of chlamydia cases were reported: more than 1.7 million, representing a 3% increase from 2017.
Side effects of STDs
If STDs are left untreated, serious effects may appear, including:
Infertility (unable to have children)
Increased risk for some types of cancer
Prevention of STDs
CDC recommends some effective steps to prevent STDs.
Abstinence: avoiding having sex, including anal, vaginal or oral sex, is the most reliable way to protect yourself from STDs.
Vaccination: vaccines can help prevent hepatitis B and HPV effectively. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, if they did not get the shots when they were younger.
Reduce number of sex partners: this can decrease the risk for STDs.
Mutual monogamy: this means you agree to be sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. You need to get tested to make sure you are not infected with STDs. Having a relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs.
Use condoms: Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. However, these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis
Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It may cause serious, permanent damage to a women’s reproductive system.
Women with symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge and/or a burning sensation when urinating.
Symptoms in men can include a discharge from their penis, a burning sensation when urinating and/or pain and swelling in one or both testicles (which is less common).
Gonorrhea is a STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum and throat especially among young people aged 15-24 years.
Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms, may have a burning sensation when urinating, a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis and/or painful or swollen testicles (which is less common).
Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Symptoms in women can include painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge and/or vaginal bleeding between periods. Symptoms in women can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.
Syphilis is an STD that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. It is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary) with different signs and symptoms in each stage.
Symptoms in different stages of syphilis according to CDC
During the first (primary) stage of syphilis, you may notice sore(s). The sore is the location where syphilis entered your body. Sores are usually (but not always) firm, round, and painless.
During the secondary stage, you may have skin rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions. Mucous membrane lesions are sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus. This stage usually starts with a rash on one or more areas of your body.
The latent stage of syphilis is a period of time when there are no visible signs or symptoms of syphilis. If you do not receive treatment, you can continue to have syphilis in your body for years without any signs or symptoms.
Most people with untreated syphilis do not develop tertiary syphilis. However, when it does happen it can affect many different organ systems. These include the heart and blood vessels, and the brain and nervous system. Tertiary syphilis is very serious and would occur 10–30 years after your infection began. In tertiary syphilis, the disease damages your internal organs and can result in death.