Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): What You Need To Know 

Most of us love getting hot & heavy between the sheets, but, as Shakespeare said, the course of true love never did run smooth. Unfortunately, this kind of enjoyable skin-to-skin contact has its pitfalls, and if you’re not practicing safe sex, there are several types of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) that can cause discomfort, pain or worse symptoms. The good news is that these sexual diseases are easily prevented by using condoms during gay or heterosexual intercourse, as well as taking sensible precautions such as washing and sterilizing sex toys between uses and between partners.  

Common types of STDs include: 

  • Chlamydia 
  • HPV / Herpes
  • Gonorrhea
  • Pubic lice (“crabs”)
  • HIV 

Sexually transmitted diseases: Know the Symptoms


Chlamydia is often symptomless so many people don’t know that they have it. If Chlamydia is not treated, it can develop into infections in the genital region and even infertility in women. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women as it can be passed onto the baby. Luckily Chlamydia is easily treated with a simple course of antibiotics prescribed by your local doctor but remember: prevention is better than cure! Use a condom if you’re having gay or heterosexual intercourse.

Chlamydia Symptoms:

  • Genital area feels uncomfortable while urinating or having sex
  • Aching pain in the region of the lower abdomen
  • Discharge (sometimes yellow or green in color) from vagina or penis

HPV / Herpes 

Herpes and HPV are not exactly the same thing, though both are similar viruses and are commonly identified by lesions on the genitals. HPV and Herpes can also lie dormant in the body with no symptoms at all. There is no cure for either virus, so remember to wear a condom when engaging in heterosexual or gay intercourse or oral sex with a stranger or untested individual.  

HPV / Herpes symptoms:  

  • HPV: genital warts  
  • Herpes: symptoms similar to flu, sores on genitals or mouth area 


The nasty little bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes this highly unpleasant STD, which targets moist parts of the body. Symptoms can present in any gender and are generally noticeable between two to fourteen days after transmission. Use a condom during gay or heterosexual intercourse or oral sex with an untested or untrusted partner to prevent transmission,  

Gonorrhea symptoms:

  • Discharge from vagina or penis (ranging from white to greenish)  
  • Constant sore throat 
  • Frequent urge to urinate, pain while urinating  
  • Heavier periods or spotting  

Pubic lice (“crabs”)

What could be worse than actual creepy-crawlies living in your pubes? Crabs, or pubic lice, are tiny little grey or red insects that live in pubic hair, laying their horrible little eggs. These teensy vampires live on human blood and are transferred by skin-to-skin contact, hiding in coarse body hair (anywhere except the head). Luckily, they’re easily treated with an insecticide shampoo that you can buy from a pharmacist.  

Public lice symptoms:  

  • Visible lice or egg sacs 
  • Itching / inflammation (this is due to an allergic reaction to the crabs’ saliva) 
  • A dark powder in underwear  
  • Tiny pin pricks of blood on skin (caused by bites) 


There is currently no cure for HIV, though it is perfectly treatable which keeps it symptomless and untransmittable, meaning that it won’t be passed on to others or develop into AIDS. HIV is passed on in some bodily fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluid, anal secretions, breast milk and blood. HIV is not present in saliva, urine or sweat. It is generally contracted during unprotected vaginal or anal sex.  

HIV symptoms:  

  • Flu-like symptoms for a week or two, usually between two and six weeks after transmission of the virus  

If you have had unprotected vaginal or anal sex it is a good idea to get tested for STDs – especially HIV, which can progress into AIDS if left untreated – so that you know your status. There is an “HIV morning after pill” which can be taken up to 72 hours after exposure (this is most effective if taken as soon as possible).  

Be responsible out there, folks. Use condoms and get tested regularly if you have unprotected sex with multiple or unknown partners.  

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