Learn about the Most Common Venereal Diseases

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Venereal Diseases

Venereal diseases (sexually transmitted diseases - STDs) are transmitted by sexual activity. Persons at high risk are those who have multiple partners (concurrently or over time), have a STD or a history of a STD, use alcohol or recreational drugs, have anonymous sex, or have sex with men (whether male or female).

Some of the most common venereal diseases include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, herpes, condyloma, and HIV/AIDS.

Most Common Venereal Diseases


Gonorrhea (popularly called “clap”) is an infection involving the mucosal surface of the genitourinary tract, rectum, and pharynx. It is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The majority of women with gonorrhea have no symptoms. Those that do may have a purulent, greenish-yellow vaginal discharge, dysuria (pain when urinating), and urinary frequency. Symptoms in men include a purulent urethral discharge, painful urination, and frequency. Anorectal signs (if any) include burning, itching, bleeding, and painful defecation. Pharyngeal signs (if any) include a sore throat. Treatment consists of antibiotics. If untreated, complications can include PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), infertility, arthritis, and septicemia.


Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. In women, it can cause infections similar to those that occur with gonorrhea and in men, it is a major cause of nongonococcal urethritis. Symptoms include a thin or purulent discharge, burning, urinary frequency, and lower abdominal pain. Women are often asymptomatic. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. Complications include PID, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies.


Syphilis is a chronic infectious multisystem disease caused by Treponema pallidum (a spirochete). If untreated, it is capable of destroying tissue in almost any organ in the body. Because of this, it can produce a wide variety of symptoms. It mainly affects the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, and skeletal system. Syphilis is treated with antibiotics.


Trichomoniasis is caused by Trichomonas vaginalis (a single-celled protozoan parasite). Most men have no symptoms. Symptoms in women include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a foul odor. This venereal disease is treated with prescription drugs.

Genital Herpes

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Blister-like vesicles appear in the genital area (sometimes the vaginal walls, cervix, urethra, and anus) and rupture spontaneously to form painful lesions. Lesions will heal on their own in 2-4 weeks. After they heal, the virus will enter a dormant phase. Some people will never have a recurrence, whereas others have regular recurrences. Recurrences are usually less severe than the initial episode and seem to be triggered by emotional stress, poor health, tight clothing, and pregnancy.

Condyloma (Venereal Warts)

The causative organism of venereal warts is the human papillomavirus (HPV). Single or multiple soft, grayish-pink, cauliflower-like lesions appear in the genital area. There are a variety of treatments to remove venereal warts, including topical preparations and surgery. The occurrence of condyloma has been linked to cervical cancer.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the cause of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). HIV destroys CD4 cells and weakens the immune system. When CD4 cells fall below 200, the person is diagnosed with AIDS. There is no cure at this time; however, medications can help delay the onset of AIDS.

Sources Used

Mayo Clinic: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Risk factors - https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/DS01123/DSECTION=risk-factors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - https://www.cdc.gov/