Terms You Should Know About Sexual Health

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Stands for “Sexually Transmitted Disease,” “Sexually Transmitted Infection,” and “Venereal Disease” respectively, meaning any disease/infection spread through unprotected sexual contact. VD is an outdated term, while STD is far more common. STI as the proper nomenclature is gaining popularity, because often something is an infection without being a disease.


The most common STD and one of the most treatable, caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Symptoms include: burning while peeing, painful intercourse, rectal pain or discharge, unusual discharge, testicular pain in men. However, often, symptoms to not manifest and many patients are not aware that they have the disease and then pass it on unknowingly.


Syphilis is a bacteria spread through sexual contact, though it can be transmitted through other ways as well. The disease as three stages: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Symptoms in the primary stage include enlarged lymph nodes and a chancre, an open sore or ulcer on genitals or place of infection. Bacteria continue to spread and more symptoms manifest in the secondary stage, such as a skin rash, warty patches in area of infection, and more general symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches, joint pain, and hair loss. The tertiary stage is characterized by which organs are affected, and could include tumors, central nervous system disorders, or cardiovascular problems.


Also known as the clap" target="_blank">the clap, or the drip, and is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infection can be spread by any sexual contact with the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus. Symptoms appear in 2 – 5 days, but sometimes in men it could take up to a month. Symptoms for men include: burning while urinating, increased need to pee, unusual discharge, red or swollen around the urethra, tender testicles, and a sore throat. Symptoms for women include: burning while urinating, increased need to pee, unusual discharge, painful sexual intercourse, lower abdominal pain, and fever.


Human Papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted virus. It does not cause symptoms and will go away without need for medicine. However, HPV can cause cervical cancer, the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths for women. Can also cause genital warts.


An HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, and slowly breaks down the immune system. HIV can be spread through sexual contact, blood, and from mother to child. Symptoms are often caused by a separate infection the body is less able to fight off because of the HIV virus. HIV is considered a chronic illness—not curable but treatable. With the help of modern medicine, people with HIV are able to live relatively normal lives. However, if left untreated, HIV will become AIDs, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the last stage of an HIV infection. Patients with AIDs are left extremely vulnerable to minor infections as well as opportunistic infections, or infections that do not develop in people with healthy immune systems.


Medical specialization studying the health of the female reproductive system.


Medical specialization focusing on female reproductive health and their children during pregnancy.


Medical specialization focusing on health of the urinary tract.


Abstinence is the practice of abstaining (refraining) from sexual intercourse. Also called celibacy.


The prevention of impregnation though various methods:

  • Oral Contraceptive/The Pill :Birth control pill. Hormones taken orally (by mouth) that prevent impregnation. There are different types of pills with different combinations of hormones: some restrict ovulation, others increase cervical mucus to block sperm from entering the uterus.
  • Plan B/Morning After Pill: Considered emergency contraception and should not be the primary form of birth control. Plan B is a pill taken with 72 hours of unprotected intercourse that restrict a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg, thereby preventing pregnancy. It is not an abortion, it is preventative.
  • IUD: Stands for “intrauterine device”. It is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic placed in a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy by keeping the sperm from making contact with an egg.
  • Condoms: Condoms are the easiest form of birth control to get a hold of. It is a latex or plastic sheath placed over the penis and worn during intercourse to keep sperm from entering the penis.
  • Spermicide :A substance that restricts sperm from moving and blocks them from entering the cervix. It is inserted the vagina before intercourse.


An issue men experience when they are unable to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse, or the inability to achieve ejaculation, or both.


A procedure the keeps semen from joining the fluid released during ejaculation. This is done by snipping and tying the vas deferens, tubes that carry the semen. The surgery is reversible.


A surgery that removes all or part of a woman’s uterus. After the procedure, the woman will no longer menstruate or have the ability to become pregnant. Hysterectomies are most commonly performed because of a disease or condition that threatens the health of the woman, not as a form of birth control as it often force the woman into an early menopause.


The process of a sperm joining an egg (fertilizing an egg), resulting in an embryo/conception.

  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) :A process" target="_blank">procedure offered to couples who are unable to conceive and may be infertile. With IVF a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg are brought together in a laboratory dish. The embryo is then transferred to the woman’s uterus for gestation. Multiple embryos are often used at once to ensure conception.


A thin membrane, often in a half-moon shape, on the opening to the vagina. It rips upon first penetration/losing virginity.


The lower end of the vagina that separates the uterus from the vagina.

PAP test

Also called PAP smear. A test that looks for changes in the cells of your cervix, in case of infection or cervical cancer.


A gland located directly underneath the bladder, between the bladder and penis. It secrets a fluid that protects sperm, released upon ejaculation. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men.

Yeast Infection/Candidiasis

Candidiasis is an infection most commonly occurring in the vagina caused by a microscopic fungi Candida. The fungi are always present on our bodies, but too many causes an infection. Antibiotics are a common cause for overgrowth of the fungi. Symptoms include vaginal burning, itching, swelling, unusual and smelly discharge.

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