Important STD Info & Symptoms
If you suspect that you may have an STD or are simply unsure of your current status, please get tested right away.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of the penis, urethra, anus, vagina, cervix, or rarely, the throat or eye. People get it mostly through anal or vaginal sex, although oral sex is also a risk. People with chlamydia may have no symptoms or only mild ones, and can spread chlamydia without knowing they have an infection.
If there are symptoms, they can include:
- pain or burning while urinating
- unusual discharge (milky, watery, yellowish, strong-smelling) from the penis or vagina
- swelling of the anus, testicles, or vagina
- bleeding between periods
- pain during vaginal sex
A full course of antibiotics (all the pills prescribed) will knock out chlamydia. Regular sex partners also need to get treatment, or they can pass chlamydia back to the treated partner.
Gonorrhea (sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip”) is a bacterial infection of the penis, urethra, anus, throat, cervix, or vagina. It’s similar to chlamydia in that it infects particular parts of the body and may not have symptoms. Gonorrhea spreads through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. Semen doesn’t need to be present to pass gonorrhea, so oral sex without a condom is a risk even if ejaculation happens outside the mouth. Gonorrhea doesn’t always cause symptoms – gonorrhea in the throat may feel like a sore throat or nothing at all. If symptoms do show up, they can include:
- burning during urination or ejaculation
- increased, greenish, or yellowish discharge from the penis or vagina
- bleeding between periods
- anal discharge or bloody bowel movements
- itching around the anus
Antibiotics will cure gonorrhea. In the past decade, some strains of gonorrhea have become drug resistant, particularly among gay and bi men and on the West Coast. A doctor may prescribe two antibiotics simultaneously to be sure of stopping the infection.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that causes sores and rashes, and can do serious harm if left untreated. People get syphilis during anal, vaginal, or sometimes oral sex. Rarely, it can be spread through kissing. Gay and bisexual men make up a large proportion those who contract syphilis: according to the Centers for Disease Control, 72% of reported U.S. cases in 2011 were in gay or bi men.
Syphilis progresses in stages. The chancres, or sores, that spread the disease usually develop first. They’re often painless and may be extremely small. The second stage is characterized by rashes, especially on the soles of the feet or palms. 10 to 20 years after infection, some people with syphilis suffer damage to internal organs, which can cause serious problems, and eventually lead to death. Syphilis is easily cured with antibiotics.
According to the CDC, the national rate of syphilis had declined every year from 1990 to 2000. Then, in 2001, the rate rose for the first time in a decade to 2.2 cases per 100,000 people. By 2008, it was at 4.4 per 100,000.
In 2010, the national syphilis rate decreased for the first time in decade when it dropped to 4.5 per 100,000. It held steady at this rate in 2011, but in 2012 it jumped back up to 4.6.
The top ten states for syphilis are: Georgia (9.5), California (7.8), Louisiana (7.4), Maryland (7.4), Florida (7.2), New York (6.3), Texas (6.3), Illinois (6.2), Mississippi (5.9), and Oregon (5.5).
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