The Most Common STDs and How to Protect Yourself

The Most Common STDs and How to Protect Yourself

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are extremely common. An estimated 1 in 5 Americans has an STD. Unfortunately, you may not realize when you have an infection. That’s because some infections don’t cause symptoms right away, and some may cause  symptoms that are mistaken for other conditions.

During your annual physical exam at Gulf West Medical Associates’ office in Port Richey, Florida, we offer many different screening tests that help spot conditions before they cause complications 一 and that includes screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

Even though we can diagnose and treat STDs, prevention is still the best strategy. Below, board certified internal medicine physician Dr. Rajesh Dave shares the most common STDs and how you can protect yourself from each one.

The most common STDS

STDs 一 sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 一 are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, and/or anal contact). Some STDs can spread through physical contact (skin-to-skin contact). This includes both herpes and human papillomavirus. Knowing how each STD spreads is key to protecting yourself. 

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a group of viruses 一 over 200 types! 一 that causes genital warts, but some high-risk strains of HPV can increase your risk of developing cervical cancer. HPV is very common, and most infections resolve on their own. 


Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, and the infections can develop in your throat, cervix, rectum, and urethra. In women, this STD causes vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, and pain when urinating. In men, it causes pain when urinating, discharge from the penis, and itching. 

Women can pass chlamydia to their babies during childbirth. 

Genital herpes

Caused by the herpes simplex virus, genital herpes cause painful sores on your genitals. Herpes spreads easily because you may not realize you have an active infection. Some people experience mild or zero symptoms and pass the disease to their partners without realizing it. It’s normal to experience outbreaks with herpes, too.


Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection. In the early stages, it’s often mild but can later progress and cause:

It’s important to treat gonorrhea because it can be passed to babies during childbirth, and, if left untreated, increases the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a serious STD. AIDS is the final stage of a  human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This is passed through sexual contact as well as through sharing drug needles or being exposed to the blood of someone with HIV/AIDS.


Another STD caused by a bacteria, syphilis is marked in its early stage by a single, painless lesion. Although it’s not painful, it may also cause swollen lymph nodes and a non-itchy rash.

How to protect yourself

If you’re sexually active, it’s essential to protect yourself against STDs. The best ways to reduce your risk of developing an STD is to:

Although these steps reduce your risk of developing an STD, they don’t reduce your risk by 100%. The most reliable way to avoid an infection is to practice abstinence. In lieu of that, practice safe sex and get tested regularly. Testing is especially important before seeing a new partner, if your partner tested positive (or shows symptoms), if you have multiple partners, and if you’re pregnant. 

Schedule your appointment today

We know it’s not always easy to talk about STDs, but know that our team here at Gulf West Medical Associates is compassionate and understanding. If you have questions about STD testing, or if you suspect you have one, book an appointment with us and get the care you need. You can reach our office at 727-848-0247 or simply book online

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