Overview

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are generally acquired by sexual contact. The organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.

Sometimes these infections can be transmitted nonsexually, such as from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles.

It's possible to contract sexually transmitted diseases from people who seem perfectly healthy, and who may not even be aware of the infection. STDs don't always cause symptoms, which is one of the reasons experts prefer the term "sexually transmitted infections" to "sexually transmitted diseases."

Feb. 02, 2016
References
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015. MMWR. 2015;64:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6403a1.htm. Accessed Dec. 1, 2015.
  2. Smith L, et al. Sexually transmitted infections. Urology Clinics of North America. 2015;42:507.
  3. Sexually transmitted infections: Overview. Womenshealth.gov. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/sexually-transmitted-infections.html. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
  4. Overview of sexually transmitted diseases. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-diseases-std/overview-of-sexually-transmitted-diseases. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
  5. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs110/en/. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
  6. South-Paul JE, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.
  7. New guidelines for cervical cancer screening: Patient education fact sheet. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients. Accessed Dec. 6, 2015.
  8. Ghanem KG, et al. Screening for sexually transmitted infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4. 2015.
  9. Tintinalli JE, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.
  10. Hunter P, et al. Screening and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Primary Care: Clinics Office Practice. 2014;41:215.
  11. Preexposure prophylaxis for the prevention of HIV infection in the United States — 2014 clinical practice guideline. Atlanta, Ga.: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/guidelines/PrEPguidelines2014.pdf?elq=0a349f52dfa74f48ae554056bc0e027e&elqCampaignId=8040. Accessed Dec. 5, 2015.