Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also known as sexually transmitted infections. They’re passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Female symptoms of an STD can include:
- vaginal itching
- unusual discharge
Many STDs display no symptoms at all. Left untreated, STDs can lead to fertility problems and an increased risk of cervical cancer. These risks make it even more important to practice safe sex.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percentTrusted Source of new chlamydia and gonorrhea cases occur in women between the ages of 15 and 24 years. The CDC estimates that 20 million new STDs will occur every year in the United States alone. Every year worldwide, there are approximately 357 millionTrusted Source new infections of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
Because many women don’t show symptoms with some STDs, they may not know they need treatment. It’s estimated that as many as one in five Americans has genital herpes, but up to 90 percent are unaware that they have it.
According to the CDCTrusted Source, untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women yearly in the United States. They can also increase the likelihood of complications such as abdominal pain or ectopic pregnancy.
Common STDs in women
Some of the most common STDs in women include:
- human papillomavirus (HPV)
- genital herpes
HPV is the most common STD in women. It’s also the main cause of cervical cancer. A vaccine is available that can help prevent against certain strains of HPV. For more information, read about the pros and cons of the HPV vaccine.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are common bacterial STDs. In fact, chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the Unites States. Most gynecologists automatically check for both infections during normal checkups.
Genital herpes is also common, with about one out of sixTrusted Source people having it.
Common symptoms of STDs
Women should be aware of possible STD symptoms so that they can seek medical advice if necessary. Some of the most common symptoms are described below.
Changes in urination: An STD can be indicated by pain or a burning sensation during urination, the need to pee more frequently, or the presence of blood in the urine.
Abnormal vaginal discharge: The look and consistency of vaginal discharge changes continually through a woman’s cycle. Thick, white discharge can be a sign of a yeast infection. When discharge is yellow or green, it might indicate gonorrhea or trichomoniasis.
Itching in the vaginal area: Itching is a non-specific symptom that may or may not be related to an STD. Sex-related causes for vaginal itching may include:
- allergic reaction to a latex condom
- yeast infection
- pubic lice or scabies
- genital warts
- the early phases of most bacterial and viral STDs
Pain during sex: This symptom is often overlooked, but abdominal or pelvic pain can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is most commonly caused by an advanced stage of infection with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Abnormal bleeding: Abnormal bleeding is another possible sign of PID or other reproductive problems from an STD.
Rashes or sores: Sores or tiny pimples around the mouth or vagina can indicate herpes, HPV, or syphilis.