What Are the Top 3 Most Common STDs in the U.S.?
A sexually transmitted disease (STD), also referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), is an infection that can spread from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. STDs are on the rise in the United States—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 20 million new cases are diagnosed each year. The most common STD in the U.S. is human papilloma virus (HPV), followed by chlamydia and gonorrhea. Let’s take a closer look at each condition.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Affecting nearly 80 million Americans, HPV is a viral infection with more than 100 different varieties. It can be transmitted through sexual or skin-to-skin contact. In many cases, HPV is cleared by the body’s immune system before it can cause obvious symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they may include:
- Warts or unusual growths around the genital area that may itch or cause pain
- Warts or unusual growths on the hands, fingers, face, legs, or feet
HPV also has strong ties to cervical cancer. While not every female with this STD develops cervical cancer, most cervical cancer cases are associated with HPV infection. HPV may also increase the risk of anal, penile, vulvar, and oropharyngeal cancers.
There are now vaccines available that can help prevent HPV infection and reduce vulnerability to certain cancers. To learn more, speak with your medical provider.
Chlamydia (chlamydia trachomatis) is a bacterial infection that largely impacts young women, although it can affect anyone. This STD is easily treatable but can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system and fertility if it is left unaddressed. It is also possible for a pregnant woman with chlamydia to pass the infection on to her baby during childbirth.
Chlamydia usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. As the infection progresses, symptoms tend to be mild and may involve:
- Pain while urinating or during sexual intercourse
- Unusual discharge or bleeding from the genital area
- Testicular pain or swelling in men
Also referred to as “the clap,” gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is especially common among individuals under age 25. Just as chlamydia can be passed to newborn babies during childbirth if the mother is infected, so can gonorrhea. This STD is curable with prompt detection and the right treatment.
Gonorrhea may not trigger obvious symptoms at any stage of the infection. When symptoms occur, they are often subtle and may include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain or burning sensations while urinating
- Unusual discharge from the genital area
- Itching around the genital area
- Painful bowel movements
Symptoms can also affect other areas of the body and cause a wide array of problems, ranging from joint pain and swelling to light sensitivity and eye discharge.
STD Testing at Affinity Urgent Care
The best way to prevent STDs and their complications is to implement safe sex practices and receive routine STD testing if you are sexually active—even if you don’t have any noticeable symptoms. Affinity Urgent Care provides comprehensive and easily accessible STD testing services at our fully equipped locations in La Marque, Alvin, and Galveston, Texas. To receive an STD test, reserve an appointment time online or simply walk in when it’s convenient for your schedule.