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Top Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You Should Know About


Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

11. Hepatitis/HBV

Photo courtesy of CDC/Dr. Thomas F. Sellers/Emory University (1963)
There are several types of hepatitis. Although the different viruses are transmitted through various routes, they all cause damage to the liver. The type of hepatitis associated with sexual transmission is hepatitis B (HBV). Over time, chronic infection with hepatitis can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect you against infection. Nevertheless, approximately 1.25 million people in the United States suffer from chronic infection with HBV.

12. Chancroid

CDC/ Dr. Mike Miller
Chancroid is a genital ulcer disease caused by the bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi. Although not commonly seen in the United States, in other parts of the world chancroid infections are a major risk factor for HIV. The ulcers caused by chancroid are generally larger and more painful than those associated with syphilis, although the early signs may be mistaken for those of a syphilis infection.

13. Bacterial Vaginosis/BV

Photo Courtesy of the Public Health Image Library; CDC/M. Rein
BV is a condition where the healthy bacteria in a woman's vagina disappear and are replaced by different organisms. Symptoms include burning and itching around the vagina, white or gray discharge, and a strong fishy odor that is particularly noticeable after intercourse. Some people question whether or not BV is an STD, but it is definitely associated with having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners. You can take antibiotics to get rid of BV, but it frequently shows up again even after successful treatment. Infection can increase a woman's risk of HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, and pre-term birth (babies born too early).

14. Nongonoccocal Urethritis (NGU)

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Unlike most of the STDs mentioned in this overview, nongonoccocal urethritis is not caused by a specific bacterium or virus. Instead, nongonoccocal urethritis (NGU) is defined as any type of urethritis that is not caused by gonorrhea. The two most common causes of NGU are chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium. Symptoms of NGU include burning when urinating, and discharge from the head of the penis; however, as with many STDs, most cases of NGU are asymptomatic.

15. Molluscum Contagium

Photo © A.D.A.M.
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that most often affects young children and adults who have weakened immune systems. It is transmitted by direct skin contact, and so among adults it also can be transmitted during sexual contact.

16. MRSA

Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is not primarily thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, although new research suggests that it probably can be transmitted sexually. Although most cases of MRSA are acquired in hospital or other medical settings, it can also be transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact.

17. Lymphogranuloma venereum

John Slater/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted disease that used to be primarily thought of as affecting individuals the developing world, but it is now on the rise worldwide. After an initial outbreak in men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Netherlands in 2003, LGV has been found in isolated groups of MSM across western Europe, North America, and Australia. Caused by a type of Chlamydia trachomatis, LGV is closely associated with HIV infection and, as with many other STDs, can actually increase the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition.
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