Chancroid is a bacterial STI that is only spread through sexual contact. It causes painful ulcers or sores in the genital region. Women with chancroid often have no symptoms. Men will usually have a painful, erosive ulcer with ragged edges somewhere on the penis. Tissue around the sores can die and lead to more serious infection if not treated.


Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and is the leading cause of preventable infertility in the United States. If left untreated, Chlamydia may also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women. Chlamydia is both treatable and preventable. Most people with Chlamydia don’t have any symptoms, but those who do might have unusual genital discharge and/or pain and burning when urinating. Women may also have lower back or abdominal pain, nausea, pain during sex, or bleeding after sex and/or between periods.


Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs in the United States and can lead to infertility in men and women. It is both treatable and preventable, though scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to all currently utilized antibiotics. Many people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. Those who do might notice unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and/or pain or difficultly peeing. Men may have swelling in their testicles and women may bleed in between periods. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility without ever showing symptoms. It can also spread to the blood and joints.


There are three different kinds of hepatitis, some of which are spread more easily than others. Hepatitis A, B and C can all be transmitted sexually, however hepatitis B is the type most likely to be sexually transmitted. All types of hepatitis are serious and affect the liver. Hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer and are the most common reason for liver transplants. Most HAV infections will cause symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice and liver enlargement and tenderness. Many HBV infections will not cause any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include joint pain, skin eruptions, a hive-like rash, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice, and liver enlargement and tenderness. Most HCV infections do not cause symptoms, but will occasionally cause fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice or liver enlargement and tenderness.


Herpes is a common STD and a lot of people who have it don’t even know. There is no cure for herpes, but there is treatment that can lessen symptoms and decrease the likelihood of passing it on to someone else. Most of the time herpes doesn’t cause any symptoms. When there are signs, they can include blisters around the genitals or anus. The first outbreak of sores is usually the worst. A person with herpes may have additional outbreaks of sores weeks or months after the first outbreak. These additional outbreaks are less severe, heal faster and occur less often over time.


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is transmitted by blood and body fluids. Most HIV infections do not have any symptoms. A person infected with HIV can remain healthy and symptom-free for many years. If HIV leads to AIDS, serious symptoms can develop and can ultimately lead to death. Signs and symptoms may include everything from fever and rashes to lesions, soaking night sweats and blurred vision.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts

HPV is the most common STD and at least 50% of sexually active people will get it at some time in their lives. The body usually clears HPV on its own without causing any problems, but HPV can lead to certain kinds of cancer. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Most of the time there are no symptoms and the virus clears on its own, but several types can cause genital warts or lead to vaginal, anal, throat and cervical cancer. The types of HPV that cause warts do not cause cancer, but they can indicate a higher risk for having the types of HPV that are linked to cancer. The types of HPV that can cause cancer do not show any signs.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID can be caused by many different bacteria, including Chlamydia and gonorrhea. It occurs when these bacteria move up from the vagina or cervix into the uterus and other reproductive organs. Many women with PID don’t have any symptoms at all. If they do have symptoms, they may include abdominal, cervical or uterine pain or tenderness, along with fever or chills. Symptoms of PID usually occur in the first five to ten days of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Pubic “Crab” Lice

Pubic or “crab” lice are parasitic insects that survive by feeding on human blood. Pubic lice are different parasites than head or body lice and are usually found in the pubic hair, but can also be found in other course body hair like eyebrows, beard, chest or armpit hair. Pubic lice can cause itching, blue spots and sores in the infected area. It may also be possible to see grey-white lice or hair nits (the egg form of pubic lice).


Scabies are parasites that infect the skin and cause really intense itching. Scabies are transferred by skin-to-skin contact and can occur anywhere on the body. This means that while scabies can be passed through sexual contact, it is usually passed through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact. Scabies causes intense itching and a pimply rash. The itching will often be worse at night than during the day. Itching and rash most often show up on the penis, buttocks, wrist, nipples, waist, shoulder blades, arm pits, elbows and between the fingers, but it is not limited to these areas. Sometimes scabies might also result in tiny burrows in the skin caused by the female mites tunneling beneath the skin. If a person has scabies for the first time, it will usually take 2-6 weeks for symptoms to start appearing. For those who have had scabies before, symptoms can occur in as little as 24 hours. It is important to know that even when symptoms are not present, scabies can still spread.


Syphilis is spread by contact with open sores (usually during sex). If left untreated it can cause serious health problems, including brain and nervous system damage, blood infection and even death. If early action is taken, syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. Syphilis prevalence is growing in the United States, particularly among men who have sex with men. Early signs may include a small, painless, firm sore in or around the vagina, penis, mouth or anus. This can be followed by rash on the body that is particularly noticeable on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. Other, less common signs and symptoms may include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue.


Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI. Millions of people are infected each year in the United States. Signs in women include excessive, frothy, yellowish or greenish vaginal discharge. There may also be swelling of the vulva and labia along with painful urination. Symptoms in men may include painful urination with lesions on the penis, but most men with trichomoniasis will have no symptoms.