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Common STDS and How to Prevent Them

Common STDS and How to Prevent Them

Most pleasurable activities bring some amount of risk. If you play a sport, you run the risk of an injury. If you drive, you could end up in a fender bender. And if you engage in sex, you could be one of the over 50% of people in the United States who wind up with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or disease (STD).

Thankfully, just as you can take measures to lower your risk for injuries and accidents, you can make sex much safer, too.

Our team at Houston Family MD in Houston, Texas, provides STD exams and testing so you can get the relief you need. We can also guide you through preventive measures to lower your risk.

Here’s a look at some of the most common STDs, as well as ways to prevent them. 

How sexually transmitted infections spread 

Sexually transmitted diseases start as sexually transmitted infections, and while the terms are often used interchangeably, STIs and STDs are not the same. Like all infections, STIs unfold when bacteria, viruses, or parasites enter your body. If an STI starts to cause symptoms, causing damage to parts of your body, it’s become an STD.

Similar to how infections like colds spread, STIs are transferred through bodily fluids or skin-on-skin contact. So you could develop an STD after having anal sex, vaginal intercourse, or even oral sex. 

Especially common STDs


Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the US. Like other STDs, chlamydia doesn’t always cause symptoms. Symptoms that do arise may not appear until several weeks after exposure. 

Chlamydia symptoms often include painful urination and lower abdominal pain. It can also cause unusual discharge, painful intercourse, testicle pain, and bleeding between menstrual periods. 

Genital herpes

Each year in the United States, about  572,000 new cases of genital herpes are diagnosed. Caused by the same virus that fuels cold sores, the herpes simplex virus, it spreads when the virus travels through mucus into tiny cuts or scrapes. 

Symptoms may include itching or pain in your genitals, buttocks, or inner thighs and mild flu-like symptoms. Herpes can also cause open sores or blisters in the mouth or genitals. If a sexual partner has a cold sore and performs oral sex, you could develop genital herpes.


Another bacterial infection, gonorrhea, too, can infect many parts of your body, including your anus, eyes, mouth, and throat. Considered quite common, people aged 15-24 who engage in unprotected sex are particularly at risk.

Symptoms may include anal itchiness, menstrual changes, painful urination or bowel movements, and genital swelling or discharge. Although symptoms usually appear about ten days after exposure, gonorrhea can also stay relatively asymptomatic for several months.


Syphilis begins as a bacterial infection that most often affects adults ages 20-35 and men who have sex with men. When it becomes an STD, syphilis is quite serious, as it can affect not only your genitals but your heart and brain. And even asymptomatic syphilis can be spread to an infant during pregnancy.

Syphilis symptoms may begin as a small sore on your mouth or genitals. Over time, sores may form over much of your body. While syphilis is treatable, it can lead to blindness, dementia, paralysis, dementia, and even death if it goes unaddressed.

Other common STIs that may lead to serious disease include HIV, which can evolve into AIDS, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other forms of cancer. Hepatitis and trichomoniasis are also relatively common.

How to prevent STDs

A range of practices allow you to more safely engage in sex while lowering your risk for STDs, including:

Routine STD tests can also help keep you and any partners from spreading or catching an STI. If you have multiple sexual partners, getting routinely tested and sharing your results so that you can make informed decisions about sex and protective measures can go far.

If you’re showing any signs or symptoms of an STD, come into our office for testing. You’re far from alone, and there is no shame in getting the care you need.

Call Houston Family MD or book an appointment through our website today to learn more about STDs and how to prevent them. We also offer convenient walk-in medical care.

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