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Common STDs and How to Prevent Them

When you’re in the heat of the moment during a sexual encounter, you may not think much or at all about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But STDs are easy to catch, even from someone you love and trust. 

Although you may already use a condom to protect against STDs during sexual intercourse, it may not be enough to prevent one. STDs can get transferred through bodily fluids or mere skin-to-skin contact. As with the common cold or flu, anyone can have contact with these bacteria or viruses, regardless of age, sexual orientation, or relationship status. 

Some STDs put you at risk of infertility, cancer, tissue and organ damage, or even death. The best way to keep yourself and your partner or partners safe is through regular STD screenings. Learn other types of prevention and how to spot signs of a problem in its earliest stages.

Our expert medical team at Health Solutions provides women’s health care, including STD testing, at our offices in Tinley Park, Rockford, Flossmoor, Illinois, and Munster, Indiana. We also help you stay safe by recommending a testing schedule and treatments based on your needs. 

What are the most common STDs that you should be alert to, and how can you prevent them or identify them in early stages? The answers are below. 

Herpes simplex (HSV) 

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 2 causes genital herpes, and you can also develop genital herpes from infection with HSV 1, which is usually associated with cold sores on the mouth. Oral sex and intimate touch account for why approximately 572,000 new cases of herpes get diagnosed each year.

An HSV infection spreads through mucus into tiny cuts and scrapes you may not even know you have. Genital herpes often shows no signs, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “silent” STD. 

Its lack of symptoms also accounts for why it’s easily spread; many people who have HSV don’t even know it. Whether or not you have the classic symptoms of blisters on your genitalia, you could pass the infection to somebody else. If you test positive for HSV, that doesn’t mean you’ve been “exposed” to the virus; it means you have it and can pass it on.

An HSV infection can pass through intimate touch alone since it does not transmit through bodily fluids. Wearing a condom helps, but you may also need a dental dam or latex gloves if you engage in oral sex or intimate touch.

Be careful of transmitting HSV to other areas of your body, too. The infection could spread if you have sores or blisters and touch another body part.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV infects more than 42 million women and men in the United States. Nearly everyone who has sex either has HPV or will have an HPV infection in the future. An HPV infection can cause everything from benign genital warts to potentially deadly cervical cancer. 

As with HSV, HPV gets transmitted through intimate touch alone. Wear condoms and dental dams to lower your risk of contracting HSV.

HPV can spread to your anus through anal sex and your mouth or throat through oral sex. Although it can clear on its own, you may need treatment. Depending on your age, you could also benefit from a preventive vaccine.


All three types of hepatitis — A, B, and C — can inflame your liver. Hepatitis doesn’t always cause symptoms. However, you may experience: 

Hepatitis can also cause jaundice, which makes your skin and the whites of your eyes yellow. Use condoms regularly to prevent hepatitis, which spreads through bodily fluids.


Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the United States. If chlamydia causes symptoms, they can take up to three weeks to develop after exposure. Signs of chlamydia infection include:

Men may have penile discharge from their penis or testicle pain. Always check your partner’s genitals before intercourse, and always wear a condom.


Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that may infect your genitals and other parts of your body, including your eyes, mouth, throat, and anus. Symptoms usually emerge approximately ten days after exposure and include:

Don’t put your health or the health of others at risk by hoping that you don’t catch an STD. Test regularly by calling our expert team or booking an appointment online today.

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