Could you have an STD and not know
it? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Some sexually transmitted diseases, such
as gonorrhea, have
symptoms that are often confused with signs of a
bladder infection, while others, such as chlamydia, may
not have any symptoms at all. Here is a look at the six most common
STDs in women, including a brief summary of specific symptoms and how the
diseases are treated.
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According to the CDC, chlamydia is the most frequently reported and fastest
growing sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Still, most cases go
undiagnosed. The disease is most common in women aged 15-24.
Symptoms: Three-quarters of women with chlamydia experience no
symptoms; those who do may notice abnormal vaginal
discharge, burning when urinating, and spotting
Symptoms vs. exposure time: If symptoms do occur, they usually appear
within 1-3 weeks of exposure.
Transmission: Chlamydia can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or
oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to baby during vaginal
Treatment: Chlamydia can be easily cured with antibiotics, usually a
single dose of
azithromycin or a week of treatment with
Consequences if left untreated: The disease can spread into the
uterus or fallopian tubes and cause
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is not easily cured. PID can cause
permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and uterus, resulting in
chronic pelvic pain, infertility,
and the potential of fatal ectopic
pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside
the uterus). It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during
childbirth. Up to
40 percent of women with untreated Chlamydia infections develop PID, and up to
20 percent of those may become infertile.
Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the
United States, but like chlamydia, it is under-diagnosed.
Symptoms: Symptoms are usually mild, if present at all, and are often
mistaken for symptoms of
bladder infection. They can include pain or burning
during urination, yellowish or bloody vaginal
pain or tenderness, heavier menstrual flow, and spotting between
Symptoms vs. exposure time: On the rare occasions when symptoms do
occur, they usually appear within 10 days of infection.
Transmission: Gonorrhea is transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral
sex. It can also be passed from mother to baby during vaginal birth.
Treatment: Antibiotics can cure the infection, but they will not
repair any permanent damage done to your body by the disease.
Consequences if left untreated: Gonorrhea can lead to PID,
chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and infections that
can damage joints and heart tissue.
Gonorrhea can also increase your risk of acquiring HIV if you are exposed to