Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) also known as Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases that are commonly transmitted between partners through some form of sexual activity, most commonly vaginal intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. They were known as venereal diseases (VD) until some time around 1990, when public health officials[?] introduced the new term in an effort to improve the clarity of their warnings[?] to teenagers.
Note that all sexual behaviors that involve contact with another person or the bodily fluids of another person should be considered to contain some risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Most attention has focussed on controlling the HIV virus which causes AIDS, but each STD presents a different situation.
As may be noted from the name, sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted from one person to another by bacteria, fungi or viruses, rather than being actually caused by specific sexual activities. It is not possible to catch any sexually transmitted disease from a sexual activity with a person who is not carrying a disease; conversely a person who has an STD got it from contact (sexual or otherwise) with someone who had it, or their bodily fluids.
Although the likelihood of transmitting various diseases by various sexual activities varies a great deal, in general, all sexual activities should be considered as being a two-way route for the transmission of STDs (i.e., "giving" or "receiving" are both risky).
Health care professionals suggest safer sex, such as the use of condoms in any sexual activity, but safer sex should by no means be considered an absolute safeguard. Another way to prevent STDs is through abstinence.
Since prostitutes tend to have large numbers of sexual partners, prostitution has often been associated with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However, sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted by many other forms of sexual activity, so it is important that all members of the community user safer sex precautions, regardless of the nature of their relationships.
It is possible to have many of the types of sexually transmitted without having any symptoms. In particular, sexually transmitted diseases in women often cause the serious condition of pelvic inflammatory disease.
(Note that some of the diseases on this list are commonly transmitted in other ways besides sexually, e.g. AIDS is also commonly transmitted through the sharing of infected needles by drug users.)
See also Vulvovaginal disorders