Different Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) affects both men and women, and is passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia (say "kluh-MID-ee-uh") is an infection caused by bacteria. In many cases it is spread through sexual contact. It's treated with antibiotics. In men it can cause burning when you urinate and infection of the long, tightly coiled tube that lies behind each testicle and collects sperm (epididymis). In women it can cause infection of the cervix and a pelvic infection that can be serious. Other types of chlamydia infection are not transmitted sexually. These types can cause a serious eye infection, especially in babies, and pneumonia.
Genital herpes: Genital herpes is an infection that is spread through sexual contact. It may cause skin blisters and sores in the genital area but often causes no visible symptoms. Some people may have only a single outbreak of herpes. Other people will have repeated outbreaks. Herpes can be bothersome, but it usually doesn't cause serious problems in healthy adults.
Genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital warts are skin growths on or around the genitals or anus. They are caused by a virus that's spread by sexual contact. Genital warts may continue to grow and spread, or they may go away with or without treatment. They often come back after treatment.
Certain high-risk types of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women.
Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact. It's found most often in the genital area, but it can also infect other areas of the body, such as the rectum or throat. Most people with gonorrhea have symptoms within a few days after infection. In men it can cause a discharge from the penis. In women it can cause a pelvic infection, which can be severe. Sometimes gonorrhea causes a type of arthritis. Some people have no symptoms. Sometimes gonorrhea is called the clap, drip, or GC. Antibiotics can cure it. Both partners need to be treated to keep from passing the infection back and forth.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. Most adults who get it have it for a short time and then get better. But sometimes the virus causes a long-term infection, called chronic hepatitis B. Over time, this can lead to liver damage or liver cancer. The virus spreads through the blood of an infected person or through sexual contact with an infected person.
Syphilis: Syphilis is an infection spread through sex. The most common symptom is a painless sore on the genitals, rectal area, or mouth. Later symptoms may include rash, hair loss, and flu-like symptoms. Early symptoms may go away on their own, but the infection is still there and can spread if it isn't treated. Antibiotics can treat syphilis and help prevent serious health problems, like problems with the heart or brain.
Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis, also known as trich (say "trick"), is an infection caused by a parasite. The infection spreads through sexual contact. Women are more likely to have symptoms than men. The infection can cause a discharge from the vagina that smells bad. The infection is treated with antibiotics. If you are infected, it's important for your sex partner to take medicine too.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Having other STIs, such as genital herpes, can increase your risk of HIV. The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Within a few weeks of HIV infection, flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue can occur. Then the disease is usually asymptomatic until it progresses to AIDS.
Other infections that may be sexually transmitted include:
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A spreads when people eat food or drink water that is contaminated by stool (feces) that has the virus in it. In rare cases, the virus is spread by contact with infected blood or blood products. You can be infected with HAV only once. After that, you have lifelong immunity to the virus and can't get the disease again. Infection can be prevented by getting immunized with the hepatitis A vaccine. There is no treatment for hepatitis A other than rest, a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol.
Cytomegalovirus: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpes-type virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, swollen glands, body aches, and fatigue. Symptoms are similar to those of an Epstein-Barr viral infection, which is the primary cause of mononucleosis (mono). CMV can be spread through saliva, infected blood products, and sexual contact with an infected person. Normally, healthy people have few, if any, symptoms. But the illness can be much more severe in people who have impaired immune systems (such as those who have cancer or AIDS). Also, a baby can get CMV from the mother during pregnancy or by coming into contact with her body fluids during birth. This can result in severe brain injury and other health problems.
Molluscum contagiosum: Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin that causes small pearly or flesh-coloured bumps. The bumps may be clear and are often indented. The bumps are contagious but not harmful. In people who have an impaired immune system, such as HIV infection, the symptoms are more severe. In healthy people, treatment is not needed, because the bumps usually go away on their own in 6 to 9 months, although they may last longer. Treatment options include scraping out the centre of the bump (curettage), applying medicine directly to the bumps (topical medicine), and freezing the bumps (cryotherapy).
Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. Most people get it by sharing needles or being exposed to infected blood. Over time, it can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, or liver failure.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis is an infection of the vagina caused by bacteria. Normally, there are a lot of "good" bacteria and some "bad" bacteria in the vagina. The good types help control the growth of the bad types. With bacterial vaginosis, the balance is upset. There are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria. This can cause a discharge from the vagina that may smell fishy. The infection may go away on its own in a few days. Antibiotics can help.
Scabies: Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin. The scabies mites are spread through close contact with an infested person, such as by touching or by sleeping in the same bed. Severe itching that is usually worse at night and a rash with tiny blisters or sores in a line or curved track are the most common symptoms. These symptoms usually occur between the fingers, in the creases of the elbows or in the armpits, around the waistline, on the genitals, and around the anus.
Pubic lice: Lice are tiny insects that live on humans and feed on blood. They can't jump or fly, but they can spread easily from one person to another through close contact or shared personal items. The main types of lice that live on humans are head lice, pubic lice (crabs), and body lice. The main symptom of lice is itching. Scratching affected areas can make the skin raw, and these areas may get infected.
1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, February 13). HIV/AIDS. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=abstract&utm_content=HIV%2FAIDS&utm_campaign=Knowledge-panel.
2. Sexually transmitted infections. HealthLink BC. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/stdis.