It is important to understand at least five key points about all STDs in this
- STDs affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. They are
most prevalent among teenagers and young adults. Nearly two-thirds of all STDs
occur in people younger than 25 years of age.
- The incidence of STDs is rising, in part because in the last few decades,
young people have become sexually active earlier yet are marrying later. In
addition, divorce is more common. The net result is that sexually active
people today are more likely to have multiple sex partners during their lives
and are potentially at risk for developing STDs.
- Most of the time, STDs cause no symptoms, particularly in women. When and
if symptoms develop, they may be confused with those of other diseases not
transmitted through sexual contact. Even when an STD causes no symptoms,
however, a person who is infected may be able to pass the disease on to a sex
partner. That is why many doctors recommend periodic testing or screening for
people who have more than one sex partner.
- Health problems caused by STDs tend to be more severe and more frequent
for women than for men, in part because the frequency of asymptomatic
infection means that many women do not seek care until serious problems have
|Some STDs can spread into the uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes to cause
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which in turn is a major cause of both
infertility and ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. The latter can be fatal. |
|STDs in women also may be associated with cervical cancer. One STD,
human papillomavirus infection (HPV), causes genital warts and cervical and
other genital cancers. |
|STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby before, during, or
immediately after birth; some of these infections of the newborn can be
cured easily, but others may cause a baby to be permanently disabled or even
- When diagnosed and treated early, many STDs can be treated effectively.
Some infections have become resistant to the drugs used to treat them and now
require newer types of antibiotics. Experts believe that having STDs other
than AIDS increases one's risk for becoming infected with the AIDS virus.